The Migel House, built in 1910 at 1425 Columbus Ave. and fresh off a $1 million upgrade, is under contract to be sold to an out-of-town buyer.

Though a “sold” sign recently went up outside, the Kelly Realtors listing agent and owners Robert and Kitty Tunmire were hesitant to discuss the transaction pending a formal closing.

“Kitty and I bought it in June 2012, but really were not sure what we were going to do with it,” said Tunmire, an executive at Waco-based Neighborly, the franchising company formerly called the Dwyer Group. “We completed the work, got it all done, and then were sitting on the back deck of our home on Gholson Road and decided we really didn’t want to live in town. We decided to operate it as a bed and breakfast, but in June of last year, the woman who was managing it for us got married and moved to Arkansas.

“We didn’t want to run it ourselves, so we chose to put it on the market and see what happens. We had a potential buyer in the fall, but that ended up not going through. It looks like we have someone acquiring it now, and we’re scheduled to close on the fifth of April. I know their name but have not met them, and I don’t know what their plans are.”

Assuming the deal goes through, Tunmire said he and Kitty are pleased with their involvement “in saving one of the most beautiful historic mansions in Waco.” He said the husband-and-wife team strove to maintain as much of the home’s original charm and feel as possible, while also performing “a ton of work” to upgrade the plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling systems.

“We’ve had family reunions there. Our granddaughters have had slumber parties there. We celebrated Christmas there, have had fundraisers there,” Tunmire said. “It was a fun project, and if we had to do it all over again, I’m sure we would. But it’s time to move on. Shoot, there is nothing left to do from a renovation standpoint, I don’t think. We’ve addressed the carriage house, the main house. Our goal was to build a gazebo on the property next door, create a really nice park area, build a fence, which we partially completed. About all it needs is regular maintenance.”

He said he could envision the house becoming a bed-and-breakfast destination yet again. He said the previous manager did not live on-site and marketing was minimal, but repeat customers were plentiful.

“Kitty and I never managed it like a real business, like it should be managed,” Tunmire said. “Someone with that attitude could do very well.”

The Tunmires bought the 10,641-square-foot home and embarked on their remodeling adventure despite warnings from Tom Lupfer, a local veteran of home restoration whose projects have included the castle on Austin Avenue, an impressive but time-worn edifice with a dingy stone facade, water damage and layout and design inefficiencies crying for attention.

“I told him not to buy it,” Lupfer once told the Tribune-Herald. “I said: ‘These things are not investments. They’re money pits. If you think you’re going to buy it and flip it and make money, that’s a different TV show.”

From 1987 to 2011, the Migel House served as the women’s dormitory for the Freeman Center drug rehabilitation program. The Freeman Center’s successor, Cenikor, sold the Tunmires the Migel House and the even larger Shear-Callan House next door, dropping the total price to a meager $155,000.

The Tunmires determined the Shear-Callan House was one house too many in that neighborhood, and not economically feasible to restore, so it was razed and the salvaged materials sold or reused. The bricks were to be used for a formal garden and the gazebo they had planned as a wedding setting.

Besides addressing the basic systems, the Tunmires restored the original windows, doors and inlaid oak floors, created a new kitchen and removed a sleeping porch upstairs, replacing it with a large balcony. They hired artisans to touch up hand-painted canvas wallpaper, repair broken plaster, restore the stained glass and mill new decorative brackets for the eaves. New brass fittings had to be custom-tooled to fit leaky vintage bathtubs.

A small bowling alley was restored and fitted with specialized pins and balls.

“There were few off-the-shelf solutions,” Lupfer previously told the Tribune-Herald.

Other touches included removing roof tiles weighing 32 tons the Migels installed to create a roof garden. It was straining and distorting the wooden structure beneath it, Lupfer said. A centerpiece of the remodeled home is a reconfigured master bathroom upstairs that features a vintage bathtub framed by wall tile with a white marble statue of lovers, salvaged from the grounds of the Shear-Callan house, Lupfer told the Tribune-Herald.

With those expenses in the rearview mirror, the house hit the market with a $1.2 million asking price.

Whether they got that, or something close, remains to be seen.

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