A passing driver had seen flames erupting from the roof of the barn, where a new tenant was sleeping.
Helga and Bernhard Roegele had owned the barn and the 200 year old house since 1975, and spent summers in the apartment above the barn as a get-away from their home in New York City. Bernhard had completed a full restoration of the barn, all of which was destroyed.
Five years before the fire, the retired couple had moved into the big, old house and the apartment in the barn sat empty until they decided to rent it in 2010. The tenant had only been living in the apartment a week when the fireplace caught fire, and the damage was major; irreparable.
Just over two years later, the entire upstairs has been renovated, with most of the exterior paneled with salvaged wood from the original barn.
Hans, the Roegele’s son, is 34 years old and an architect. Remembering all of the work his father had put into the original apartment, he said, “The cost to rebuild was not covered by insurance.”
Shortly after Hans began the work, his mother noticed that his neck seemed swollen on one side, and he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Rather than abandon the project, Hans continued, doing the lion’s share of the work. “We hired Richard Fenarolli, a contractor, to oversee the concrete work, framing, electrical, hvac, plumbing, roof, and electrical through Stan Perrone,” he said.
Everything else was done by Hans.
Hans ripped everything out of the old house and reused much of it. Two-thirds of the siding came from the original barn wood. “I just turned it over to the side that wasn’t painted,” he said.
They re-used the floorboards, sink, patio doors and some of the windows. The shed door was made from the charred floor-boards. An enormous yellow granite stone in the motor court had been from the cornerstone of the foundation.
“I was down to about 25 percent lung capacity when I was moving the stones. That was before I knew how bad it was going to get,” he said.
“Rebuilding the house distracted him from the chemo,” Helga said.
At around the same time, Hans received a big commission for a 9,000 square foot house. “I did the early design sketches while I was in the hospital, and they loved them,” he said. “The last thing you want to do is sit and ponder your situation. That doesn’t do any good.”
This spring, Hans is feeling strong and well, though he is still taking treatments. The new barn is complete, and the apartment upstairs has been rented out to a newly married couple.
Jaimee, 21, and Ian Keogler, 23, dated for seven years throughout high school and college at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Oh. They graduated college and were married in June.
Before they left for their honeymoon, they were looking for an apartment. Their parents, all of whom attend St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, also knew the Roegeles.
Jaimee and Ian were told by their families that this apartment was available, but it could not wait for them to return from their honeymoon. They had to take it or not, sight unseen. Lucky for them, they decided to take it.