The blue Victorian home at 703 6th Ave NW was built in 1896 by Cornell music Professor William B. Van Valkenberg, and is the first home built in the Ash Park addition. Van Valkenberg eventually moved out so that he could study abroad, and his family moved east to live with relatives.
Notable architectural features include a hexagonal, pointed tower that was added in 1904 and faces southeast. The porches are characteristic of neighboring historic homes. Outside, the owners keep plantings similar to what they would have been originally. Historic plants may have included daylilies, lilac, mock orange, honeysuckle, bridal veil, roses, hydrangea, boxwood, and small hedges. Homeowners at the turn-of-the-century would have focused on plants that provided attractive foliage and were also easy to maintain.
The house originally included an upstairs apartment that was used for additional residents, but this practice was discontinued in the early-to-mid-20th century. The home also had a mud room that was later taken off and replaced with another, larger room. There is a small but convenient kitchen that holds an antique stove, and the interior wood floors are still covered with area rugs, as was customary at the time it was built.
The home was derelict for a time before Cornell Theater Professor Joe Svec renovated it in the 1960s. When it was in poor condition, the home was referred to as haunted. Professor Svec, upon apparently witnessing spontaneous openings and closings of windows, and music with no human source, tried holding seances in the home with his students, but apparently the spirits had departed. The home’s current homeowners do not report any ghostly goings-on, only a few bats now and again.