Joe, Kendra, Max, Charlie, & Bobby

We’re the Gagnons. And we have a dream that’s just off Center.


Center Street, that is.

In 2008, we left our downtown Kansas City loft and bought a 100-year-old Craftsman home in a small town in Northwest Missouri. We did a ton of work, much of it ourselves. We were planning a kitchen renovation. We thought it would be our forever home…

Until this little gem came up on the market.


Our kids lovingly refer to it as “the haunted mansion.” (Thanks a lot, Carla!).

It’s an 1883 brick Italianate, abandoned nearly 10 years, just a few blocks from our current home. Joe has always been the old house lover, and he’s admired this home since our family moved to town. One morning, after dropping the kids off at daycare, Kendra (a self-described “reluctant renovator”) saw a for sale sign in the yard and messaged Joe. Something like, “Look! Your house is for sale. Maybe we should just forget the kitchen renovation and buy this. LOLOLOLOL.”

Joe was in the house that afternoon with a local realtor.

So the old house lover and reluctant renovator found themselves falling down the rabbit hole in an effort to figure out if this old house could be saved. After a year of meeting with dozens of folks, including realtors and contractors and engineers and bankers, we decided to put our house on the market. If it sold within 6 months, we said, we’d move forward with the Off Center Revival. If it didn’t sell, we’d stay in the Craftsman and finally do that kitchen renovation we’d been planning.

The Craftsman was under contract in 30 days, so here we are. Still falling down the rabbit hole, but at least now we know where we’ll land. Right smack in the middle of a 3300 square-foot, raccoon-infested diamond-in-the-rough.

It’s a huge project – a gut renovation – that will involve restoring, rehabbing, and/or replacing nearly every part of the home. We know it won’t go as planned. We know it’s a little crazy. We know the whole idea is more than a little off-center.

But it’s ours.

This blog is our effort to document this adventure – the good, the bad, and the ugly. A space to share our progress and reveal what we learn along the way. Whether you’re an old-house lover yourself, in the throes of your own renovation, or just curious about how things are going; we hope you’ll enjoy watching our 143-year-old house become our home.