‘Big Spooky’ wins Honor Fountain City beautification award

Shannon CareyFountain City

When some folks buy a fixer-upper, they’ll tell you a tale of passion for historic restoration.

While Sam and Rachel Mashburn certainly feel passionate about their restored Gibbs Drive 1916 bungalow, their reason for buying it is pretty straightforward.

They needed a master on the main.

But now their restoration work has been recognized with the Honor Fountain City Day Residential Beautification Award, given each year to a home of distinction by Fountain City Town Hall.

Sam is an IT specialist, and Rachel teaches English at Central High School. They looked for a house for a year and a half before they closed on their Fountain City home on Halloween day 2015. That, plus the house’s deceptive size, got it the name “Big Spooky.”

Sam’s hobby is home improvement, so the pair set to work, along with a team of helpers, making Big Spooky a thing of beauty. Rachel said pictures don’t to the work justice.

“It’s hard to tell from just looking at pictures how much work went into it,” said Rachel.

“Big Spooky” before restoration

The HVAC had to be completely redone. Paneling had to be torn out. The drop ceiling was removed. Bathrooms were reworked. Floors were sanded and refinished.

Rachel even removed wallpaper coated with glitter, a throwback to the time before electric lighting. It reflected limited light throughout the room.

Sam said the house was an investment and a vote of confidence in the Gibbs Drive neighborhood.

“We picked the house because we knew the neighborhood had potential,” he said. “We were the first, but there’s been several other homes renovated because of this project. We believe in neighborhoods.”

Sarah Seneker, the Mashburns’ daughter, lives upstairs in Big Spooky with her daughter, June. She loves the house’s size and the friendliness of the Gibbs Drive neighborhood.

“It’s kind of like a little Mayberry over there,” she said.

The Mashburns’ work on Big Spooky isn’t done, though. They’re about to start work on an outdoor kitchen, and they’ll eventually add a two-car garage with a loft upstairs.

As for being recognized for all their hard work, the Mashburns just say they’re humbled.

“I never expected it,” said Rachel. “It’s just something we did not ever expect that we would get. But when people acknowledge the hard work you’ve been doing, it really makes a difference. It inspires you to do more.”

The Mashburns thanked everyone who helped along the way, including their parents John and Lillian Mashburn, cousin Chris Overholt, architect J.D. Mashburn (no relation), TN Bank, son-in-law Chris Seneker, Jamie Perkey and many more.

The Mashburns will receive the award at Honor Fountain City Day, Monday, May 29, in Fountain City Park.

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