Photo by Dustin McKibben.

Nate Jackson saw pictures of a 1975 Sherbondy home in Fort Wayne, Indiana. “Don’t shoot this idea down immediately, but what if we bought this house?” Nate asked his wife Alysha as he showed her pictures of the three-level home nestled amongst the trees in Fort Wayne.

“To his surprise, I agreed,” Alysha shared. “Sunday morning we were able to get a hold of a local Fort Wayne real estate agent. She gave us a Zoom tour of the home since we were in Orlando, and we put in our offer. By Monday morning it was accepted, so within the span of a weekend we went from not looking to purchase a home, to having an offer accepted for a house that was multiple states away.”

Alysha and Nate packed up their two young children and to Indiana they went! With both of their families living in the area, the couple had long wished to be able to spend more time there. “With this home, we can split our time between here and Florida, and AirBnb whichever home is not in use.” She adds, “One of our goals this year was to add another stream of income, and purchasing a second home allows us to do that while also allowing us to spend more time near family.”

The second story of the home features large windows, a dramatic fireplace and custom wood trim along one side of the living room’s wood beam ceiling. Photo by Dustin McKibben.

A Local Legacy

The home was built and designed by beloved local architect James Sherbondy to be the personal residence for himself and his family. Sherbondy had designed several Fort Wayne structures, notably the Concordia Lutheran High School. When it came to designing a home for his own family, Sherbondy certainly didn’t skimp on his unique take on mid century architecture. The tri-level home is 2,496 square feet and sits on a wooded .66 acre lot. With asymmetrical windows and a dramatic roofline, the 1975 Sherbondy home is a vivid expression of mid century designs that sought to wrap form, functionality and artistry together in one beautiful package.  The home boasts four bedrooms, three of which are on the bottom floor. The main floor contains a spacious living room, dramatic fireplace, the kitchen and a half bathroom. The top level, also known as the loft, contains a smaller living space, the master bedroom and master bath.

Alysha Jackson sought to keep the kitchen as original as possible while making a few necessary updates. “I was able to figure out a way to keep all the original kitchen cabinets by shifting things around to accommodate a more efficient layout. We’ll be updating them with new time-period appropriate cabinet pulls, updating the countertop and adding a backsplash.” Photo by Dustin McKibben.

When You Know, You Know

For Alysha, the first walk through provided a sense of peaceful confirmation for her and Nate. “Usually when both my husband and I have a gut feeling about something and go for it, it usually works out. However, we had just made a massively impulsive decision.” But once they stepped inside the home, “We just got so excited because it’s everything we imagined and more. Absolutely zero buyer’s remorse.”

The central staircase that goes to all three levels of the Fort Wayne home. Photo by Dustin McKibben.

Custom Built

This home had been the residence of Sherbondy himself until the home had been put on the market just a few months ago. While the home had been immaculately preserved (it’s been widely described on the internet as a “1970’s time capsule”), Alysha knew that some updates were going to be absolutely necessary for her family. The removal of the multi-colored shag carpeting to be the most obvious one (she’s planning on removing it and putting in hardwood floors.)

There was also the home’s trait of being custom built to suit the needs of one unique family. “My very tall husband has noticed how low the light fixtures and staircase supports are. I think he hit his head about 5 times a day that first week. The bathroom vanities and door peephole are also quite low (even to me at 5’6″). While they are low to us, I can understand because if you are custom building a home, then why not make it a comfortable height for you and your family?”

“The big question everyone has is about the fireplace. I’m very happy to confirm that it’s not going to be changed. It’s stunning,”  homeowner Alysha Jackson shares. Photo by Dustin McKibben.

Updates for the Younger Generation

Alysha and Nate are also planning updates to make the home better suited for children. A dramatic open staircase will remain the same but will have brass bars cleverly added between the wooden ones to make it safer.

Alysha added, “One of the biggest quirks is the plethora of sliding doors that lead to nowhere. The large sweeping windows you see in photos are mostly sliding doors. Even if there was a deck on the second level, there are three sets of sliding doors, and then the sliding doors upstairs have always led to nowhere. Thankfully, they lock and are not a safety concern. However, we’re looking forward to adding a deck in the summer.”

Hidden Treasure

A home with unique quirks also houses extraordinary treasures. A notable feature of the 1975 Sherbondy home are the custom carved wooden designs that can be found on the front door, living room wall trim and the front of a built-in credenza. After some investigation, Alysha was able to confirm that the credenza was made by renowned industrial designers Evelyn and Jerome Ackerman.

Custom wood carvings by Jerome and Evelyn Ackerman are just one of this home’s original artistic features. Photo by Alysha Jackson.
This built-in credenza was carved by Evelyn Ackerman as part of the series “Evie’s Birds.” Photo by Alysha Jackson.

Home is Where the Heart Is

The Jacksons at home. Their front door is one of a kind with a custom carved design.  Photo by Dustin McKibben.

With such a distinctive home as this, Alysha and Nate wanted to do something special to pay homage to the era of design and the home’s unchanged interiors. “We knew we would be updating some things, and since it’s such a unique home, we really wanted to document our time living in it while it is in its original state.”

So they decided to have a series of family photos taken inside the homewith a twist. All four members of the Jackson family are dressed head to toe in 1970s garb. This modern family has been transported back in time and are experiencing the home as your average mid century family. It’s a beautiful visualization of how a special property can make just as big a mark on its new owners as they do on it.

Alysha sums up her hopes for her new home perfectly with, “My goal is to stay true to the era, pay homage to the Sherbondy family, and make it a wonderful home for modern families at the same time. Lofty goals, but I think it can be done.”

We have no doubt that she’ll succeed.

You can see more photos and follow along with the 1975 Sherbondy home renovation journey via the family’s instagram (TheJacksonFi) page here.

See more of photographer Dustin McKibben’s work here.

Want more? Explore another renovation story set in Seattle’s Queen Anne Hill or take a tour of a sprawling split-level in Greenville, South Carolina.

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