Mark Nolan's 164-year-old Burton farmhouse is built like the rings of a sequoia trunk. The original home stands at the center with two additions from the 1930s and 1950s surrounding it. There's also a stand-alone party house that was added in the 1960s and a barn-garage addition out back built in the 1980s.
"Over the years, every family has put their touch on the home," Nolan says.
When he bought it in 2001, Nolan was looking for old-home charm in a setting that invoked his childhood growing up on a farm in Calcutta, Ohio.
"Two rooms sold me on this house," Nolan says. "The man room and the half basketball court on the upper floor of the barn."
Nolan loves how the wood-paneled "man room" combines comfy worn-leather furniture (where he often naps after his shift) with a taxidermy duck over a wood-burning stove. It's a throwback to the 1950s when it was added to the house.
"To walk into that room with original tongue-and-groove, knotty pine paneling, it's just something you don't see anymore," Nolan says. "It has such a cozy feel."
The barn is where Nolan indulges in his equally manly pastimes: shooting hoops in the loft-turned-half-basketball-court and restoring vintage cars in the five-bay garage.
"The barn is a focal point of the property for me," he says. "Whatever your hobby is, you can do it in a barn."
From the pace of TV news, this Channel 3 morning anchor seeks refuge in his 4-acre property. "The further you get [from downtown], you decompress," he says. "It's an instant escape."
Car projects currently take precedence over house projects, but Nolan has gradually renovated with a focus on blending contemporary and true-to-period design schemes. A recent kitchen overhaul combined a stamped-copper backsplash and moss-colored glazed cabinetry with stainless steel appliances, a wine fridge and granite countertops. His first-floor bathroom is now '40s retro with hexagonal black and white tiles.
"The kids who grew up here came over for a party when I had everything done and they couldn't get enough of it," he says. "They were so excited that I kept the kitchen somewhat period. Except for the flat screen."
Those "kids" are members of the Rowland family, which previously owned Nolan's home, and are now in their 60s and 70s. They still have houses around the property, which was once a racehorse breeding facility called Rowland Acres. But far from being protective of their homestead, they've welcomed Nolan into the family.
The hoopla of Rowland parties is Burton lore, says Nolan. "I was told when I moved in here, 'You have to continue the party.' "
He has taken that edict seriously and uses the Rowland-built party house, adjacent to the pool, as the epicenter. This small, square outbuilding "screams entertainment," he says. It's filled with a stocked bar, brick fireplace, mismatched casual furniture and Keith Urban on the stereo.
On summer weekends, this is where you can usually find Nolan, swimming with friends and their kids — Channel 3's Hollie Strano had her 6-year-old's birthday party there earlier this summer — or grilling out with buddies.
"It's instant just-add-beer-or-steaks, and you're in good shape," he says.
Nolan also keeps it simple in the kitchen. His signature creation? "Grilled peanut butter and jelly," he says. "It melts together like a little piece of toasty heaven."