It’s February, a time to celebrate love and romance. Which means there are bound to be plenty of weddings. And plenty of moms crying at those weddings.

 

          But when neighborhood resident Ross Cunningham marries fiancé Liz Mitchell, his mom Mina Cunningham is just as likely to cry at the reception as she is at the ceremony.

 

She’ll probably be thinking of the day she and Bill “Bulldog” Cunningham married 49 years ago. Their reception was held at the same spot as Ross and Mitchell’s, which is also Mina’s childhood home.

 

The house in Junius Heights has stayed in the family for all those years, but it wasn’t passed down the way you might expect. Ross bought it two years ago from his brother, who purchased it from their grandmother 12 years before.

 

          “I was moving back from Austin ,” Cunningham says, “and I didn’t want to live in an apartment. I had always thought of this house as a family heirloom and had done construction before, remodeling homes in college. So I thought it’d be a fun project to renovate it.”

 

Though Cunningham gutted the 1920 house to update the wiring, plumbing and other features, he worked to keep it much like the house he remembered as a kid.

 

“I grew up in Lakewood , and we went there all the time when I was a kid,” he says. “I have great memories from that house, playing on the huge front porch, on the swing and climbing trees.”

 

Cunningham spent 14 months renovating the home. A lawyer by day, he did most of the work on weekends. And most of it alone, until he and Mitchell began dating. That’s when he brought his first helper on the job.

 

“She got to be an electrician’s assistant, plumbing assistant, a little bit of everything,” he says.

 

But it seems Mitchell’s construction abilities where hardly what attracted him to her.

 

“She didn’t know which end of the hammer to hold on to when she started,” he laughs. “Now she’s a very critical Bob Vila.”

 

After the wedding festivities, Cunningham and Mitchell will make the house their new home. What do his parents think of their plans? “They’re really touched by it,” he says. “My mom gets really emotional. She keeps saying, ‘If only your grandparents could see this place now.’ Then she’ll cry again.”

 


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