This Old House A Highland Circle home has been a labor of love for generations of the McGrath family, and now they are preparing to pass it on. written by Melanie Crownover
he bones supporting the Tudor-style home at 626 Highland Circle are almost as strong as the bonds formed while Harold and Sharon McGrath were raising their family there. Their eight grown children — Lynn McGrath, Beth Harrison, Jennifer McGrath, Stephen McGrath, Margaret McGrath, Suzy McGrath, Michael McGrath and Ginger Reason — began to realize just how well built their childhood home was when they started remodeling the house last year to sell. The group planned to sell the house “as is” after their mother died in 2014, but the tornado that spring helped change their minds. “We realized while Stephen and his family were staying here after they lost their house just how much attention it needed, so we were surprised when the contractor said it probably took 35 men a year to build because it’s so structurally sound,” Beth said, adding that the home’s
strength became even more evident as the recent remodel began. “They were going through concrete in the ceiling downstairs to put in the new lighting. Even though many of us have old houses we’ve redone, the carpentry work inside these walls was like nothing we’ve seen.” Built in 1929, the 5,000-square-foot house sits atop a hill in Tupelo’s first planned subdivision. It was one of two model homes that began the neighborhood. The McGraths moved to Tupelo from Tennessee in 1968 for Harold’s job at DayBrite, a commercial lighting manufacturer. At the time, there were four children. But as the family expanded, so did the house. “I remember Mom and Dad taking us to other homes around Tupelo to find a bigger space in the ’70s, but they were finally like, ‘We’ve got another whole house upstairs in that attic,’” Beth said. “They hired contractors
photographed by Joe Worthem
to do the technical work. The family worked together to make sure the rest was done.” The parents added on rooms in the spacious upstairs, adding four dormers to accommodate the transition to a five-bedroom, three-bath space. They also rewired the house and removed the radiators in favor of central heating and cooling. The odd wall angles and storage nooks created by the attic renovation still lend a quirky lightness to the upstairs living space. The most recent renovation, which started in July 2017, focused on modernizing the home and bringing it to code. Contractors upgraded the wiring, plumbing and air-conditioning unit to align with current standards. The siblings worked together through text messages and email to keep everyone informed as construction progressed and to confer on the changes to come. With the guidance of contractor Clay Bowen, the help of neighbor
The McGrath family has owned this Highland Circle home since the 1960s. Recently, the eight siblings who grew up there completed a transformative renovation to modernize and make more efficient use of its 5,000 square feet. The home is now ready for a new family to make memories.
26 INVITATION | May 2018