Situated just four miles east of the outerbelt and nestled between the suburban sprawl and farm fields of Gahanna, stands a centuries-old house that was the cornerstone of a now forgotten 18th century German settlement. The Souders, a small family of farmers, immigrated to the area in 1825, and acquired a 100-acre plot of land which extended north along Mann Road, east on Taylor Station Road and well beyond what is now the Blacklick/Gahanna border.
By 1850, the family had expanded their kin, as well as crops, and populated the plot into a full-fledged farming community, that became known as Soudertown. The family owned
That expansion leads right up into present day, and the present owners.
As time passed and Franklin country lines were drawn, the Souders sold off some of their once bustling farm, but retained the deed to the house, as well as most of what was originally considered Soudertown. Today, the house is home to Matt Souder, his wife Erin, a sassy Schnauzer named Perry, and all the makings of a modern day fairy tale.
Matt’s residency unwittingly joins a long line of Souder men before him to have lived in the home – carrying on an unofficial Souder tradition. The house is believed to have been built by his great-great-great-grandfather, Anslem Souder, and every male born a Souder has lived in the house since.
“Between growing up in the house and visiting my grandmother’s house next door, I never really considered that this would be my home one day,” Matt said.
After college and a brief stint in Vail, Matt and Erin returned to Ohio in 2006. At that time, the house had served 20-plus years as a rental property, and its condition was ramshackle at best. Since then, the couple spend every weekend peeling back layers of linoleum, chipping off coats of paint and unveiling centuries of history in order to restore the house to its former glory.
Although the exact age of the house has been a question among the family for decades, a hidden, Victorian-era safe installed in the hallway may unlock the secret. The safe’s inside door is hand-scribed with the year “1873” in a metallic paint, matching its flower-adorned drawers and stylized shelves. What may have once held land deeds, documents and antique jewelry, now secures the couple’s private stash of cupcake-flavored vodka, wine, and of all things, its original combination.
It is this juxtaposition of old-fashioned and contemporary that inspired Erin to start capturing all their home improvements on her blog, House of Earnest. From DIY projects to home décor tips, she shares practically everything about the house with her followers.
“The house is a canvas for creativity,” she said. A self-proclaimed “DIY diva,” Erin has always taken advantage of an opportunity to fix up (or rather glam up) things that do not necessarily need fixing.
“In college, I replaced my dorm room’s dome light with a chandelier,” recalled Erin, who quit her job as product development for accessories at Abercrombie & Fitch in late 2013 to focus on House of Earnest and launch her collection of home goods, Grandiflora.
Since then, the couple’s motivation for fixing the house has amplified. “When I used to do something to the house – paint a wall or update a handle on a door – I would always post it online on Earnest,” Erin said. “But now the blog is getting so much attention, it has motivated us to make more improvements to the house we really never would have thought about before…so the two really fuel each other.”
The house is accented by pieces from her Grandiflora collection – all of which are original, yet affordable, designs produced in some of the finest factories, both local and far. Ranging from covered chairs to cowhide-draped stools to confetti-inspired glassware, her collection of shimmering, stylish, yet understated accents sprinkle on an effortless elegance, charming ambiance and DIY natured spirit in every room.
The couple most recently converted their spare bedroom into Grandiflora’s Headquarters. Sheets of Italian leather, projects in progress and a pinboard showcasing next season’s inspiration, may reveal what’s in store for the next 100 years, if not the next generation of Souders.