Picturesque home provides family base
Don and Marilyn Ratzlaff raised six children in Hillsboro and now that their family has grown to 30 members, their picturesque home on South Main Street provides just the right base for children and grandchildren who come as go as needed.
“Right now we have a daughter and her two girls staying with us as her husband is in Austin, Texas,” Don Ratzlaff said on Tuesday. “They will be moving shortly, but we have plenty of room for them to stay here until the house is ready there.”
The former bed-and-breakfast home that the Ratzlaffs purchased in 2008 has a separate side entrance, four bedrooms, and a complete living area upstairs. Originally built in 1915, the almost 100-year-home is still strong and tight, though Ratzlaff did make a few changes since taking ownership.
“There used to be a large dining area in the middle of the house,” he said. “We turned that into a living area and added a wood-burning stove in the middle of the room. We heat the whole house with wood and really enjoy that type of warmth.”
Even though the home has five bay windows on the south side, Ratzlaff said they were tight and the house was very comfortable.
When almost the entire family was home for Christmas a few months ago, grandchildren filled the living room with activity. With family in mind, Ratzlaff said he finished out part of the garage as an additional recreation room for when family members were all home.
“We enjoy hosting our family,” he said. “This house makes it easy to do that.”
Prior to living on South Main, Ratzlaff owned and operated Don’s Studio on Ash Street in Hillsboro. They lived in a home on South Washington.
“I sold the studio in 2005 and we moved to Colorado Springs for several years,” he said. “We went there to open up a studio and coffee shop with our daughter.”
When parental family ties brought the Ratzlaffs back to Hillsboro in 2008, Don chose not to open up shop as a professional photographer again, but instead started work as a para-educator at Hillsboro Elementary School. Marilyn also gained employment with the school system and serves as a second grade aide.
“I still do some photography on the side, like the Tabor College presidential photos,” he said. “But working at the school really fits our lifestyle now. We can both go to work and not have to make lesson plans or stay after hours. It is just real enjoyable work.”
Of course, the Ratzlaffs also enjoy having time to spend with family members that come and go at their home in Hillsboro.