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Meet The Man Returning Historic Richmond, Indiana, Homes To Their Glory

Earlham College
Eric Nicholson and his organization are on a mission to fix up Richmond homes that were once owned by millionaires at the turn of the century.

A restoration effort is underway in a city that, at the turn of the century, claims it had more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the U.S. It's led by a recent college graduate who's a scientist, musician and outdoorsman.

It's not that 2017 Earlham College graduate Eric Nicholson doesn't have anything else to do besides fixing up homes. The biochemistry major spent time in Thailand doing drug development. He's since published a paper on new ways to fight bacteria with antibiotics in the journal Nature.

Nicholson is also a musician, playing guitar, trumpet and French horn. He's also a singer who was accepted into an Italian opera program. In his free time, he leads outdoor excursions in Utah.

Nicholson is also interested in restoration and is the executive director of Richmond Neighborhood Restoration.

He remembers driving into Richmond for the first time and thinking the houses were beautiful. He quickly learned that Richmond has almost all of its original housing.

"Since I've been here, we've been working on three houses," he says. "So, we're about to finish one on Main Street and then the one we're going to be starting on, I think will be one of the more spectacular ones." 

You can follow his progress on the group's Facebook page.

Credit Earlham College
Earlham College
Nicholson stands outside one of the homes his organization is restoring.

The organization has done five homes over five years, using a lot of volunteer labor. "We're really taking these homes from this broken tooth in the smile of Richmond."

One home the organization is working on now was built by a farmer in the 1870s and was probably one of the first homes there. Another home was owned by a female hat maker.

Here's a tour the Ann and Jerry Judge house, built in the 1870s and named for the family who donated it to the project. 

Nicholson does a lot of research. "You walk past houses every day and they all have a history but you never know who lived there or what they did."

Some of the homes the Richmond Neighborhood Restoration is working on are along a stretch known as "millionaires row."

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.