PEORIA – Having lived on historic Moss Avenue for almost 20 years, Janaki Nair and Mark Guzzardo aren’t leaving, even though they are moving at the end of the summer.  

“We had some friends who lived about three blocks down. I always told Mark that if they ever sell their house, it’s the one house I would move to. And sure enough, a few months ago, they informed us they were moving, ” said Nair.  

The family’s next house offers some unique details along with a finished third level, which will provide their two daughters a little more space.  

“They’re 9 and 13. Now my oldest daughter will be on the third floor by herself, and they won’t have to share a bathroom, which has increasingly become a point of conflict, ” said Nair.  

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The old house mystique

The family is selling their 1897 Queen Anne-style home at 1539 W. Moss Ave. for $370, 000. It was the couple’s first home, which they bought not long after moving to Peoria within 2003.  

“When we decided to move to Peoria, we had to think of ways to make the place special, because we didn’t know Peoria, and we were apprehensive about whether or not we would like the community, ” said Guzzardo. “So, we wanted to do things that were distinctive, that we could only do here, and I think the housing was one of those things. ” 

For Guzzardo, a Kewanee native, Moss Avenue held a certain mystique, and for Nair,   who grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and Baltimore, a historic home held a lot of appeal. The pair had met while studying at the University of Chicago and, during their first year in Peoria, they lived in a huge apartment on High Street as Guzzardo started a job at Caterpillar and Nair began her career as an attorney. But it wasn’t long before they started house hunting.  

“To buy one year out of grad school was not really the plan. We thought we’d be renters for a lot longer than that, but there was so much available on the market at that time. We fell in love with this home right away, ” said Nair. “But we are not handy at all, so we said buying an old house is not a good idea, we should be responsible. We looked at dozens of other houses, but you know how it is, once you see that house you love, every other house gets compared to it. So , we bit the bullet and bought the old home. ” 

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The perfect marriage of old and new

With 2, 506 square feet of finished area, the house offers features you just can’t find in modern construction — a wraparound front porch, wood floors in every room, an elegant staircase, built-ins and a fireplace. Over the years the couple have done lots of work on the house, and today it also has some features popular within modern homes, like an upstairs laundry and a big, contemporary kitchen.  

Because the family thought they were going to be in the home for many more years, they remodeled the kitchen and a half-bath at the back of the house just two years ago. A huge eat-in island runs the length of the kitchen, which is made bright with white cabinetry, floor-to-ceiling oversized white subway tiles and stainless-steel appliances.  

“The nice thing about this house is it marries the new with the old — updated bathrooms, a gorgeous, open kitchen, and a huge island, something you don’t always find in an older house. I think that makes this house super unique and amazing, ” said the couple’s real estate agent, Rhonda Milburn.  

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Beautiful in every season

Even after nearly 20 years in an aged home, the pair still aren’t handy, but they have learned how to manage the constant maintenance all homes require, and they have never regretted buying an old house. They love the wonderful quirks that make the house special, and they love the neighborhood.  

“I love this street through every season, inch said Nair. “And it’s nice being near Bradley University. You see people jogging, and there’s always stuff going on. And with our kids getting older, I really appreciate that we can walk to One World plus there’s things around here, which is not true in a lot of places. ” 

Leslie Renken can be reached at 309-370-5087 or [email protected] com. Follow her on Facebook. com/leslie. renken.