Coppinger House: Bringing history back to life

By COLBY DENTON
Posted 7/7/19

Restoring old homes is always a rewarding experience, a fact  David Bishop and Angel Sherlin Bishop know all too well. They are currently in the process of restoring the old Coppinger House in …

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Coppinger House: Bringing history back to life

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Restoring old homes is always a rewarding experience, a fact  David Bishop and Angel Sherlin Bishop know all too well. They are currently in the process of restoring the old Coppinger House in Cleveland to its former glory.

Built in 1970 by the late Lee Walls,  who owned the Cleveland Daily Banner, the mid-century modern Coppinger House was owned by the Ofstadahal family for a brief time after Walls. It is named for the Coppinger family who owned the house from 1980 onward.

The Bishops purchased the house in April, and have been continuously working to restore.

While renovating the home, David found a box full of love letters sent between Walls and his wife. He then contacted Sarah Malinak, Walls’ daughter, to see if she’d like to have the letters. Malinak was excited to return to her former home, and brought several photos for the Bishops to look at during her visit.

Previous owners covered the house’s original exterior with vinyl siding, a decision David has problems with.

“We found out through Sarah and some of our other sources  the architect who designed the house had studied under Frank Lloyd Wright,” David said.

This original siding is known as Eichler siding, a design that can only be reproduced by a single company in California today, according to David. Eichler himself built around 1,200 homes in southern California.

David said 90% of the home uses Eichler siding, and hopes to complete the home’s remaining 10% in Eichler as well.

The decision to purchase the home was an interesting one for David, who had been employed by the former owners as a young man.

“The first time David ever saw a microwave and a freeze frame TV was here,” Angel said.

He initially wondered if owning the home would be too strange, but these feelings of apprehension faded when he re-entered the home after so many years away.

The house features high, tongue-in-groove ceilings with open beams and a mountain stone fireplace, as well as an in-wall vacuum cleaner and master bed on a pedestal. The doors are made of thick, heavy wood, and a fenced-in pool adorns the backyard.

The Bishops have restored numerous properties, and even own their own Airbnb property. They’d been searching for a house to move into and make their own, but hadn’t found the perfect property until the Coppinger house came up for sale.

David is an avid car lover, while Angel’s passion lies in house restoration. Although David was interested in purchasing a completed home straight away, Angel wasn’t fully sold, and wanted to help restore the property to its original glory.

“That’s another reason we were excited for Sarah to come visit us, because we wanted to tell her how we’d be restoring her childhood home and taking care of it,” David said.

Aside from a designer from Chattanooga, the construction crew consists David and Angel. Thankfully, David’s experience working construction and Angel’s knowledge of home restoration pair well for the couple’s aspirations.

Wanting to keep the house as authentic as possible, many of the updated vinyl windows previously installed will be removed in favor of the floor-to-ceiling windows that were used when the house was originally constructed.

One design choice the house retains is the use of butterflies in decor, which were a favorite of  Mrs. Walls.

David said the difference between restoring a house and remodeling a house is time consumption, as the couple must conduct research as they uncover things throughout the restoration to maintain authenticity.

“At a certain point, you’ve got to decide if you want to go with the original design, which is mostly what we’re doing, or go with the modern choice, like updated toilets,” David said.

Obviously, unforeseen issues constantly arise. The couple is working diligently to address anything that comes their way.

For anyone interested in restoring a house of your own, Angel suggests getting at least three opinions/quotes on pricing. Also, be sure to ask friends who’ve undertaken similar jobs about who they used.

“Our main goal is to get the inside done and prepped to move in, then work on the outside,” he added.

The Coppinger House is located near Blythe Ferry. 

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