Unexpectedly drawn back by the lifestyle of the town they left behind, Ashley and Ryan Wishman are at home on Sumter Avenue.
Eating your words usually provides one with a meal that is hard to swallow. The dining room of the Sumter Avenue home of Ashley and Ryan Wishman is the perfect setting for Ashley to dine on hers – and she couldn’t be happier. When they married almost a decade ago, neither had any intention of returning to their hometown of Summerville. “I grew up here, and Ryan moved here when he was fifteen. I had said a long time ago that I would never come back here to live.” Then Olivia came along, and four years later, Hunter joined his big sister in their West Ashley home, and Ashley’s mother moved in to help out with the children. Jackson and Lily, their not-so-little, four-legged babies, rounded out the growing family. In addition to needing more space, the couple realized that they wanted to raise their children in a more family-oriented place. “I started eating my words,” Ashley says with a laugh. “You know how it is. You have children, and everything changes.”
That’s not to say that there weren’t a few caveats when they began looking at homes in the area. After living West Ashley for a few years, they realized that they wanted to live somewhere more family-centered. It had to be an older home in Downtown Summerville, preferably historic. It had to be a short golf cart ride away from restaurants and the park, and it went without saying that it should be close enough that an ice cream cone wouldn’t melt on the way home from Guerin’s. A few of the houses they looked at showed promise, but they knew they were home from the minute they walked into the house on Sumter. “We went straight to Oscar’s after looking at it,” Ryan remembers. “We immediately started to figure out how we could make it happen.”
The decision was made, and they have not looked back for a moment. The pair had recently renovated a beach house at Edisto. Ryan, a hard-core “This Old House” devotee, couldn’t wait to put his skills to use on the historic home. He immediately went to work. “It was a jungle,” says Ryan. “Our neighbors had to be a little worried about who was moving in, particularly given the big purple dumpster sitting on the street for two months and the Bobcat, chainsaw, and tractor going in the back yard. But the neighborhood kids loved it!”
It has been said, “We are all living history, and it’s hard to say now what will be important in the future.” The profound sentiment makes the words that follow even more profound. “One thing is certain, though: if we throw it away, it’s gone.” It is a philosophy that the Wishmans are embracing as they continue to work on their home. The home was lovingly cared for by its previous owners, but as with most older homes, there was much to be done. Both Ashley and Ryan want every repair or addition to be done right. Ryan has taken on many projects that contractors weren’t willing to touch. Though it makes every project take a little longer, maintaining the house’s character and honoring its history is a priority.
Ashley worked with luxury interior designer Megan Molten to establish her family’s identity within the mid-19th century architecture. Her touches have created a soothing, comfortable ambiance that is modern but beautifully enhances the house’s traditional characteristics. Quirky little spaces incorporated to meet a growing family’s needs fit as though they were always meant to be. “There are a lot of doors that go to tiny closets or hidden rooms that must be from all the additions that have been added over the years,” Ashley reveals. Although they have many original documents that track the property’s past, both wish they knew more about the people who lived in the house and the stories it could tell.
The Wishman family will one day author its own chapter in the story of a gracious Summerville home. It will be a tale that resounds with the happy laughter of Olivia and Hunter and the contented sighs of belly-rubbed dogs. It will tell of bare feet on age polished floors, of birthdays and anniversaries and the ups and downs of everyday life. It will reveal how it drew two people back home, knowing they were the perfect fit. And it will celebrate the days of a family happy and grateful to be living history on Sumter Avenue. AM
By Susan Frampton