First house in Carmel being brought to life again
By Dawn Pearson
Way back in 1824, the year after Hamilton Country was organized, a farmer named William McShane became the first landowner in the original Clay Township. And he built a cabin for his family to live in just south of what is now 106th Street on Westfield Boulevard.
The cabin eventually gave way to a grand house which became a distinctive Carmel landmark.
In recent years the house stood alone, in shambles, longing for a new “McShane” family to move in and rebuild. The city didn’t know what to do with it, the bank was trying just to sell it to break even and some people wanted to tear it down for the land.
Yet one family from Fishers saw the love and history in “that old house” and is restoring it to its glory days.
Paul and Emily Ehrgott are completing the makeover of the historic McShane house and are almost ready to move in. It will eventually house the couple and their three children, Jack, 10, Charlie, 8, and Kate 4, breathing new life into Carmel’s historical past.
Paul Ehrgott is a project manager for Wilhelm Construction Company and Emily Ehrgott has an art education degree but is currently a stay-at-home mom and “construction worker.”
The Ehrgotts said they bought the house because they fell in love with it.
“We loved the house and we bought it because we are a little crazy,” Emily Ehrgott said. “No, really, we have always wanted a house with loads of character and a big yard. This house happened to fit our needs. Plus we definitely wanted to save it from further deterioration. It’s a gorgeous house and was still in pretty good shape for being nearly 130 years old.”
But the house had a small journey to go through before the Ehrgotts actually got to begin the renovation.
“Indiana Landmarks originally bought the house in October 2012 at auction for $125,000. We, in turn, bought the house from the Indiana Landmarks for roughly the same amount, and are under historical covenants with them, so the improvements have had to stay with the historical guidelines for the exterior of the house,” Emily Ehrgott said.
They are not finished with the improvements so they don’t know how much they will put into the home. But they have no plans to sell or flip it.
“It is our forever home,” Emily Ehrgott said.
There are three buildings on the property, the house, the summer kitchen and the detached three-car garage.
The original cabin has been gone for years, and as for as historical artifacts, the house had been cleaned out by vandals long ago.
“The house was pretty much cleaned out when we bought it. There was nothing left on the inside,” Emily Ehrgott said. “But the history was still there.”
She said some of the house’s best attributes still shine through.
“Now don’t get me wrong, there are two beautiful built-in cabinets in the main house. There was also a gorgeous brass chandelier left in the dining room,” she said. “Also, the summer kitchen has two lower level rooms that exist. One room has a small wooden ladder and is an L-shaped room about 7’ by 5’. It is a pretty large room for being underground. I do believe this is where the “underground railroad” theory has come from. The second hole is a round hole more like a cistern.”
When asked what their favorite part of the old house was, Emily Ehrgott said “Everything! I love that so many people have stopped by to encourage us and let us know that the house looks great. It seems as I sit on the front porch watching the traffic go by I see a lot of heads turning to see the progress. A few people even honk their horns. It’s been exciting for us to hear the words of encouragement from the Carmel community.”