They were renovating a 90-year-old house in Hamilton. Then they found something amazing in the kitchen.

Editor's Note: This story first published on April 14. Kimberly Bley is in the news again this week because a two-story Hamilton building believed to have been built in the 1890s she owns was demolished to make way for a garden that she hopes someday will be an art space and a place where area art students come to learn.This is her unique story about her own home.

The Hamilton house that Kimberly Bley recently bought isn’t a money pit, but it does have a 25-foot-deep hole where she wants the kitchen sink to be that will cost her thousands of dollars to change.

Bley calls the three-story home at 25 S. C St. that she bought for $72,000 in September “a diamond in the rough.”

She wanted to upgrade the kitchen, so she and boyfriend Randy Slater were removing floor boards several weeks ago.


“Where the kitchen sink was going to go, that’s where we pulled back the floor, and we felt the breeze, and looked down, and there it was,” she said.

Turns out, the large, 25-foot-deep hole was a well that is estimated to have been built in the early 1800s. Her house was built above the well in about 1930, perhaps so the well could serve as an indoor water source.

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Bley, 32, is a registered nurse working in critical care at Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital. Someday, she hopes to have a large garden on the property where she can offer workshops on things like urban gardening and hydroponics. She dreamed of letting visitors see the well that she hoped would provide the water for the garden.

She had the water tested, and it was pollution-free.

“The well was kind of a neat feature if we were able to use it, but the city said no, they wanted it filled in,” Bley said.

Actually, said city Building Director Ken Rivera, the city had no choice. Despite the clean water, the state was concerned about possible water contamination, because, “the state is aware of instances where a kid ends up drinking water from a hose and getting sick,” he said.

“The state was definitely making it abundantly clear to the health department here that it had to be sealed in a certain way,” Rivera said. “It’s basically a state regulation that they’re expecting the local jurisdiction — in this case, our health department — to enforce for them.”

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“It’s going to cost around $6,000 to fill it, so that means it’s going to be shaved off of other projects, and that’s going to be the kitchen,” Bley said. “But that’s OK, you just do what you can, and move on. But the kitchen’s gutted right now, so it’s difficult.”

That’s especially unfortunate because she uses the kitchen for a side business she has, making lotions. But Bley said he’s still having fun in the home.

“It was a little more enjoyable before the well situation, but I’m getting there,” she said. “Just a hiccup.”

Bley called it “a bit of a disappointment” to have to fill in the well. But as she awaited the building permit needed to fill in the well, she was looking forward to using the kitchen again.

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Aside from the $6,000 cost, and the kitchen she temporarily was unable to use, when she thinks back on the home’s unexpected water feature, she’ll remember “the excitement of when we first found it, and thought it was going to become something really neat” that Hamilton people would get to see.

“I guess we dreamed kind of high, at first,” she said.

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