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Old house, new use
Hauck has been renovating the historic home which was previously Dalton Photography at 1218 17th Ave. Hauck bought the building Aug. 29. Exterior renovations include new windows, removal of trees that were too close to the house and a freshly painted porch. (Times photo: Marissa Weiher)
MONROE - At the corner of 17th Avenue and 13th Street stands a house familiar to the Monroe community.

Most recently, it was owned by local photographer Dennis Dalton, who purchased the property in 1986. Before Dalton, the home was split into apartments to be used as a boarding house.

Originally, it served as a quasi-mayoral mansion: The home was built by Monroe's second mayor George Spangler in 1863 after he purchased the land from a Monroe resident who received the plot from the U.S. government.

Current owner Cathy Hauck said she found trivia about the home "neat," including the fact that she shares the name Catherine with Spangler's wife and mother. Hauck learned about former owners from research her family had conducted since she purchased the brick home on Aug. 29.

A lot has changed since then. Three ash trees infected by the emerald ash borer were brought down from the terrace facing Turner Hall. Cedars blocking the door to the residence were taken down, as was ivy torn from the brick facade.

Pine trees that were too close to the home were cut down, converted to statues facing the yard. An outhouse original to the building was purchased and hauled away while overgrowth was torn up and replaced with shrubbery and flowers.

Work inside was also an overwhelming task.

"I don't do anything small, apparently," Hauck said with a laugh.

Hauck runs The Infinity Studio, a space for yoga classes, meditation and Reiki, the laying of hands on a person to act as a channel for improved life force energy. Originally from the Chicago area, Hauck moved to Monroe in 2005 and has been practicing yoga for 11 years. She began a studio in the city after fulfilling two certifications, a total of 500 training hours, to become a teacher. She has been overseeing yoga classes for nine years. Her goal was to fill a niche that had gone mostly unnoticed before she moved to the city.

"I definitely thought there was a need," Hauck said. "It's all about health and wellness, everything I do."

Classes are generally comprised of six to 10 people. There are nine per week to accommodate students at different times throughout the day.

The first studio was opened along the downtown Square, in the space where Monroe Medical Equipment now resides. For just over a year, she has been instructing students in a space just off the Square along 17th Avenue. Looking for more space and a little more natural light led her to the Spangler house. Even though it was not what she had wanted initially, a quick visit changed her mind, and now she lives above the studio.

"I literally walked in this door," Hauck said, gesturing toward the studio entrance. "I was like, 'oh darn it, it is going to work.' I brought my mom and a friend with me and they thought I was insane. It's kind of a curse I have that vision; I can see what the end looks like."

Though Hauck noted some people are resistant to change, others have been more receptive to the differences they see in a fixture of the community. At one point, a woman driving by had shouted out to Hauck, complimenting her updates. She said some people have shared stories about taking their senior photos in the studio.

Some pieces of the home have remained. The exposed brick along a back hallway and within the room where students store supplies is a testament to its sturdy build, Hauck noted. The studio itself, which fits roughly 16 students comfortably, maintains the original floor. And though the windows looking into the backyard and facing 17th Avenue have been replaced, the pocket doors leading into the space remain.

"I kept trying to say, I'm saving the house," Hauck said. "Yoga or Reiki, unlike traditional exercise, it gives you that time to kind of just reset. I think everyone appreciates the rejuvenated space. It's just a really great place to come for a little respite from your day or your life."