August 14, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When Engra wed Ronald Banse, the couple shared a dream for their matrimonial abode. They wanted more space in an older home.

He lived in the Field Club area, while she resided in Dundee. Neither of their former homes would suffice.

They searched for about a year before discovering a mansion built in 1905 in the now-resurgent Blackstone district.

Banses4It’s a grand place, but if you ask the homeowners, it is simply home.

“We were awed by the sense of space in this room,” says Ronald as he surveys the main room. “It was the ceilings and the quality. You just don’t find this any place.”

Engra, on top of her attraction to the mansion’s space and heritage, has an academic appreciation for the structure. She studied architecture in college. “They call it a Georgian Revival home because of the exterior, but equally important is the interior,” she says.

The home offers many original features, such as mahogany throughout the formal dining room. The mahogany stops at the edge of the dining room, where the wood becomes a less-expensive maple.

“The woods are used according to status,” Engra says. The door jamb is mahogany on the side where the family and guests would have seen it, but becomes maple on the half that would be seen by servants.”

The original-looking kitchen was actually completely renovated by Engra to look authentic to the time period. The couple first ripped out the cabinets, which uncovered several windows in the room.

Banses1“It was like a whole different room at that point,” Engra says. She then stripped the woodwork and began considering other ways to make the room look even more accurate to its original time period.

A pantry became the refrigerator, which was covered with wood and made to resemble an icebox.

As the original home would not have featured many appliances, the butler’s pantry has become extra storage. The north side of the pantry is original, but the south side has been expanded. The couple found 100-year-old glass to maintain the older home’s appearance. Since they like to entertain, they have made room in the butler’s pantry for a stacking freezer and fridge hidden in the cabinetry.

The home uses radiated heat, and one heater in the butler’s pantry, specifically, is used to help with entertaining. A radiator that resembles a tea tray is perfect for keeping food warm until it is time to serve.

This is a home built with the intention that domestic workers would maintain it. There are two staircases: one main staircase for the family, and a second staircase for hired help.

Although the home uses radiant heat, the place contains two fireplaces. Original green tiles surround one hearth in the main room. Original blue tiles surround the other in the library on the top floor. Unlike many homes with multiple hearths, the two fireplaces use the same flue instead of having separate chimneys.

Throughout the spacious house, original oil paintings by Engra hang on the walls. There is plenty of room for the couple and their unique possessions.

“What home can accommodate a 7-foot-tall asparagus?” Engra says of one of her paintings. “It just makes me smile.”   OmahaHome

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