In 1972, the unusual property sitting on an acre-and-a-half of land came on the market for the first time since its construction. When Dr. David Gauss, a local dentist, and his wife Pam Haase toured the home, he immediately saw the beauty and grandeur of the place while she saw plaster falling off the walls. However, once the couple committed to buying the property, Ms. Haase reports that she, too, could see the stunning beauty of the house. She loved the staircase and chuckled that she could see herself coming down and greeting her guests as if she were in a Loretta Young film.
|The rear of the Thornton home at 75 North Audubon Road in October of 1977: The Gauss family resided here from 1972 to 1979. Later, a large addition would be added to the rear of the house by a different family. (photo courtesy of Pam Haase)|
|The foyer of 75 North Audubon Road in December of 1977 (photo courtesy of Pam Haase)|
|Loretta Young descends a staircase in the 1944 film, "And Now Tomorrow" (photo courtesy of hamlette blogspot)|
There was much work to be done on the residence as the boiler did not work and the property was completely overgrown. Towards the end of her life, Mrs. Thornton struggled to get upstairs so an electric chair had been installed along the stair rail. Thankfully, the bones of the house were in good shape including the tiled roof. The young couple already had two children and with a third on the way, they would soon have their hands full.
From 1972 until 1979, the Gauss family lovingly restored the Thornton home. They plastered walls, worked on the electrical issues, and updated the kitchen. The family particularly enjoyed the octagonal solarium in the front of the house during the warmer seasons. The Gauss children had plenty of room to play both out on the lawn and in the house. The 1970s, however, were difficult times to own larger older houses. The country faced two major issues with high inflation and an energy crisis. Both of these issues made it difficult to own and operate a large property like the Thornton home. The Gauss family paid $1000 a month to heat the place even in the 1970s. By the end of the decade, they decided to move on, but they had already done the neighborhood a great service by saving a property that was in decline. Pam Haase noted in an interview that they viewed themselves not just as homeowners but as stewards of this special place.
|Gorgeous art glass in both the sidelights and door of 75 North Audubon Road in December of 1977 (photo courtesy of Pam Haase)|
|Beautiful brick fireplace at 75 North Audubon Road in December of 1977 (photo courtesy of Pam Haase)|
|Stunning doors into the dining room at 75 North Audubon Road in December of 1977 (photo courtesy of Pam Haase)|
|Built-in hutch at 75 North Audubon in December of 1977 (photo courtesy of Pam Haase)|
|The dining room at 75 North Audubon Road in December of 1977. (photo courtesy of Pam Haase)|
|The solarium at 75 North Audubon Road could be visited during all seasons as it was heated. The Thorntons put in Italian terrazzo floors in this beautiful room. (photo courtesy of Pam Haase)|
|The Gauss family preserved the original kitchen cabinets at 75 North Audubon Road (photo courtesy of Pam Haase)|
|The Gauss family added a double oven in the kitchen at 75 North Audubon Road, which Pamela Haase noted was the height of kitchen luxury in the mid-1970s. She also loved her red linoleum floor. (photo courtesy of Pam Haase)|
|Upstairs, the Thorntons had these built-in drawers and closets put in, each with a separate key. Mrs. Thornton came from the prominent Baxter family who made their fortune on... keys! (photo courtesy of Pam Haase)|
In the fall and winter of 1977, Pam Haase walked around with her camera and snapped images of many of the rooms. She was justly proud of their hard work and decided to document the moment. I have included many of those images for this post. I have also included some original art of the family and of the house done by David Kinney in 1974. Mr. Kinney lived next door. I am indebted to Pam Haase for her stories and her photos of 75 North Audubon Road.
|Artist David Kinney created this sketch of 75 North Audubon Road in 1974 for a Gauss family Christmas card. (sketch courtesy of Pam Haase)|
|Artist David Kinney sketched the entire Gauss family in 1974 for their annual Christmas card. (sketch courtesy of Pam Haase)|
|Artist David Kinney sketched the front wall at 75 North Audubon Road in 1974 for the Gauss family. (sketch courtesy of Pam Haase)|