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Wanted: Appreciative owner for historic home

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

He wants to find someone who has the same passion for history -- and beauty -- as he does.

So Larry Rupp, finally ready to retire at age 70, is having an open house to show to the public his historic home at 601 Oak in Hays.

The open house is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the native limestone house known in Ellis County annals as the "Schlyer-Eastlack home." The property also includes a 900-square foot separate office on the west edge of the lot.

Rupp completely restored the house, one of the oldest in Hays, during a 33-year period.

He first came across the home when he started restoring it for owners Pete and Bonnie Storm in the mid-1970s. The home was built by Hays pioneer John Schlyer in 1864 and later was bought by Storm's parents, Martin and Mary Eastlack.

After the death of her mother in 1974, Storm inherited the home, which by then was in disrepair, and along with her husband hired Rupp to bring it back to life.

At times through the years, Rupp lived either on the main floor or the upstairs apartment until he moved to Ellis to help his aging parents. He bought the property from the Storms in 1980.

Rupp eventually rented the Schlyer home to hand-picked tenants, and he put all the rent money -- he estimates as much as $100,000 through the years -- back into the house.

Rupp, who still lives in Ellis, capped off his longtime restoration project with a wrap-around porch a few years ago.

"This has been my passion for a lot of years," said Rupp, who will turn 71 on Tuesday and hopes to find a buyer with the same zeal for preserving history.

"It is my hope to find someone who will appreciate the decor of the house as it is," he added, "and someone who will cherish the house and all the abundant history as much as I have."

The purchase of the home will be turn-key. All the antique furnishings will remain in the house, including most that Rupp collected for years even before he was contacted by the Storms to restore it.

The home also includes numerous photos and paintings from the turn of the century, along with historical photos of the builder and his third wife. Those all will remain with the house as well.

Rupp chose wallpaper and a burgundy carpet to simulate that of the time period when the house was built, and the house is heated with a high efficiency boiler.

One of Rupp's favorite rooms is the parlor, which features a unique coffee table in the middle of the room.

Four support posts that stretch from the floor to the ceiling form a frame around a large glass-top table that is encased by a large gear off an old steam tractor.