Inside the house, Kris Munsch stands.
The look on his face is like that of a child on Christmas morning seeing the new, sparkly toy with all the things connected to it making it appear that much better.
Except in this case, Munsch is visualizing the house — this present he bought himself to work on — as what he wants it to look like when it’s finished. In his mind, he already knows.
The house, old and, at the moment, filled with a few construction items, things that will be thrown away and antique-type items he might use to enhance the look, are scattered across the floor.
Munsch lets out a laugh.
“Yeah. It’s pretty cool,” he said talking about some of his plans for the home. “I’m pretty excited about it, if you can’t tell.”
The house is one of the oldest in Hays. Built by Hill P. Wilson in 1875, it first served as a manse — a home to the Presbyterian priest. The limestone structure along East Sixth Street has the iconic look of many of Hays’ oldest buildings, a lot of those built by Hlll — the Philip Hardware store on Main (1874), and Presbyterian church (1879) now connected to the Ellis County Historical Society, to name a few.
The home, abandoned from tenants for what Munsch estimates has been nearly 30 years, needs a lot of work.
It has had work done to it, but time isn’t so nice to places like this.
Renovating and making it into a livable structure is what Munsch does. This project, though, is a little different than all of the older homes he has worked on through the years.
The look Munsch gives as he talks about the house, though, shows the love he has for working on such projects.
“You look at the chisel marks in that,” Munsch said, explaining some of the older work done on the outside structure. “Think about that. Dude, that’s cool. That was back in the day when some dude was probably out here in overalls, hand-chiseling with a wagon, a buggy, bringing his tools to work. Man, I tell you, this is why I bought it. There’s just no way I could have let the story end here.”
Munsch, who has owned the house for a year, started work in late July. As he began his plans for the house, he turned to sculptor Pete Felten for some history on the place. Felten owned the house for some time.
In 1985, Felten reconstructed the pillars in the front of the house, holding up the overhang above the front door.
He used limestone to construct the pillars.
“Most people don’t know it’s there because there’s large trees in front of it,” Felten said. “It’s sitting way back there. That’s a nice house. It’s got a big second story on it.”
Along with his home and property inspection service, and the building and renovations he does, Munsch also is an instructor of construction at Fort Hays State University. So, once school starts, he’s excited to have his students see the house. If they chose, Munsch is happy to pay to have them help him work on the house.
More than anything with the students, though, is he just wants to see the look in their eyes when they see the home for themselves.
“Some of them see what I’m doing, and some of them have no clue what I’m doing,” Munsch said when working with students on his projects. “You can tell with them which one is going to be a hammer swinger and which one is going to be a designer. There is nothing wrong with either one. We need both. Some are more like me, they’re visionaries.”
Munsch estimates it will take approximately a year to complete the work on the house.
And with that, he’s just planning to enjoy the ride.