Welcome HOME BnB: House of Modification Examples
Happy New Year! Welcome to the first full episode of Season 2.
Today I’m sharing a special interview with Diane Miller of the Welcome HOME bed and breakfast in Newburg, Wisconsin (30 minutes north of Milwaukee). I was lucky enough to visit Diane and record this interview in person!
In August of 1955, at 3 ½ years old, Diane Miller was one of many who contracted polio during an epidemic that swept Milwaukee, WI. From this point on her life included leg braces and crutches, to enable her to walk. These assistive devices were a minor inconvenience, but not intolerable. Unexpectedly in the mid-1980’s a lightweight manual wheelchair was introduced into Diane’s life. Post-Polio Syndrome was causing her to experience fatigue, an unsteady gait that at times resulted in falling coupled with new aches and pains. However, it was not long before Diane found the environment around her was impossible.
In an effort to address this problem, in the fall of 1989 the Leo and Sara Miller family founded Welcome, House Of Modification Examples, Inc a 501(c) (3) nonprofit corporation. The sole purpose of this program was to create an avenue for sharing with others the importance of wheelchair accessible home design. Money was raised to purchase an 18 acre parcel of land; complete with mature woodland, meadow and a rolling hillside. This was an ideal future building site. Over the next 3 years, wheelchair accessible trails were excavated in the woods, picnic areas were created and a cedar boardwalk was completed. Construction of the main house began in 1996. Hundreds of volunteers devoted thousands of hours over the next two years to build this distinctive single family home.
On May 1, 1998 the 36-inch wide (wheelchair friendly) doors to Welcome HOME opened to the public!
The Welcome HOME B&B is an “L” shaped house set on a hillside that is a flourishing native plant prairie with year round beauty - from bronze colored grasses in the winter to a rainbow of summer blooms. This 3,650 square foot ranch style wheelchair accessible demonstration home was newly constructed from the ground up. Careful thought went into the home’s design to ensure that they met their goal when inviting everyone to “come as you are.”
Tours of the entire home are now provided – by appointment - free of charge.
I am grateful for my time with Diane. She is warm, welcoming, and so kind. Being able to interview her sitting together at the dining table in the Welcome HOME B&B was such a treat. As I mentioned at the end of the podcast, I think her home (located on 18 beautiful acres) would make a wonderful retreat center for groups looking for an inclusive space. She has a huge basement, with a platform lift, that would be perfect for a yoga retreat, teaching space, art gallery… You can reach Diane and see more photos of the home on her website. Also, here are a couple of pictures I took during my stay at the Welcome HOME B&B!
OTR/L, MA, CAPS
About your host: Nichole Kain is a universal design and aging-in-place consultant, her work is based in solid research and guided by a deep appreciation for the power of place and importance of personal choice.
Nichole is the founder of Home and Place Project. With a background in occupational therapy, environmental gerontology, and training as a certified aging in place specialist, she helps homeowners, researchers, and business owners go beyond ADA to create beautiful and inclusive environments.
To connect, collaborate, or just learn more about Nichole and her work, please visit: www.homeandplaceproject.com