- Associated Press - Monday, April 28, 2014

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - The door on the Haan Museum swung open at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, and Bob and Ellie Haan welcomed their guests who paid to tour the 110-year-old house.

“This house was the state of Connecticut’s building at the 1904 St. Louis World Fair,” Bob tells the nine who have ventured out for this once-a-month tour. “After the fair, it was disassembled by William Potter and moved to Lafayette, Ind.”

Parts of the building at the fair were salvaged from a colonial house that was being razed in 1903.

Ellie adds, “A lot of the parts of the house are actually taken from a 1760 house in Connecticut, the Hubbard Slater House. If you look at the front, a lot of this is hand-carved before the Declaration of Independence.”

Inside the Haan Museum, which doubles as the family home on State Street just east of Ninth Street, grandchildren roam and romp, much as the Haans‘ boys did.

The stately home with limestone pillars is filled with collections of oil paintings from artists who worked in Indiana, as well as rare and valuable antiques from the 19th and 20th centuries. There are vases nearly 7-feet tall and furniture that dates back to before Indiana was a state.

“We didn’t start collecting antiques because of the house,” Bob told the Journal & Courier (http://on.jconline.com/1h6IEHT ). “We got the house because we collect antiques.”

Eventually, Ellie said, they’d like to start an endowment and then turn the house and its contents over to be a museum. For now, though, it doubles as their house. It makes one wonder what it’s like to live in a museum.

“Actually, the kids have pretty much free rein of the house, the grandkids,” Ellie said. “Ultimately, it’s just stuff. It’s not nearly as important as people.”

The Haans purchased the house from the Potter family in 1984, and while the exterior had been renovated, the interior had not, Bob said at the start of the tour. The electrical was so outdated that Ellie wondered if the place might burn down before they could begin renovations. The roof leaked, and the third floor was falling in, she said.

By 1992, they had a plan and started the first of ongoing projects that continue today.

“We always have so many projects, we don’t take much time to sit down and relax or look around and see what’s here,” she said. “During a tour, you have people who are excited about what they’re seeing, and it just makes you realize that it is pretty special.

“The time we enjoy it the most is during tours because we get to sit back and look. Sharing it, really, is what makes it the most fun.”

The center hall’s ceiling opens in an oval shape revealing the second floor. A chandelier on the second floor ceiling hangs down through the oval and lights up both floors.

“The thing that makes this house so livable is the open well,” Bob said.

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