Above, Bill Gibson paints in a closet under the stairs in a home he bought and is remodeling. (The Commercial Review/Rachelle Haughn)
Above, Bill Gibson paints in a closet under the stairs in a home he bought and is remodeling. (The Commercial Review/Rachelle Haughn)
Bill Gibson is a rescuer of old things.
Instead of saving historic artifacts, antique cars or paintings, he goes for something much larger. Bill restores old houses.
“I hate to see them go kaput,” he said.
In his lifetime, Gibson has restored about nine old houses. He currently lives in one, and his granddaughter lives in another. His latest project will likely be for the same granddaughter, who has run out of room for her growing family.
“I think it’d make somebody a really nice house,” he said while walking through the rooms he has nearly completed.
Gibson bought his current project at a bargain price because it had been foreclosed. The outside of the house at 615 W. Arch St., Portland, still needs some work, but he’s making great progress on the inside.
 “I just needed something to work on,“ said Gibson, who prefers to stay busy.
Gibson retired from Fisher Body, Marion, 20 years ago and has found plenty of things to do since — including remodeling houses, gardening and woodworking.
“I got so many hobbies, I can’t keep track of them,” he said.
He grew up remodeling houses with his parents. Today, his son Rocky, helps him.
When Gibson first purchased the West Arch Street house, his wife, Toni, wasn’t too thrilled.
“My wife gave me heck for buying it. But, I’ve got a granddaughter who wants it,” he said.“Of course, when (my wife) looks at an old house, she doesn’t any vision” of its potential, he added.
Shortly after he purchased the house in January, he realized he had his work cut out for him. But he wasn’t deterred.
One of his biggest obstacles was the unusual paint scheme. One room was black, one was mustard yellow, one was dark blue and another was red. Some of the kitchen walls were textured. The dining room area had seven layers of wallpaper, with paint on top of each sheet of wallpaper.
Gibson tore down all of the wallpaper and painted over all of the walls in a cream color.
He also removed all of the carpeting throughout the house, along with the wooden tile in the kitchen. He put beige tile in the kitchen and the two bathrooms.
In the downstairs bathroom, he had to install a new toilet. The previous occupants of the house apparently took the previous toilet when they moved out. He also put in a new bathtub, sink and medicine cabinet.
But in the upstairs bathroom, he had to remove a shower. The shower was crammed in behind the bathroom door.
In the upstairs bedrooms, there were boards where skylights had been. He had to fill in those holes.
Many of the windows in the house were broken, so Gibson replaced some of them. He still has six to replace.
He also had to replace all of the electrical wiring.
But, there’s still more work to do.
Gibson has some painting left to do and plans to replace the kitchen cabinets and he must also install wall surface and clean up a utility room containing a furnace, water heater and other similar items.
While working on this house, he also has his next project lined up. He recently replaced the porch roof on a house he bought at 220 W. McNeal St. He plans to do more work on it when he finishes the West Arch Street house.