What they thought as newlyweds would be their starter house—a charming pastel-pink Victorian with wide inviting porches just steps away from downtown Saline—quickly morphed into their forever home.
“There’s something about saying I live in the pink house,” laughs Rebecca Schneider, who bought the house at 107 W. Henry St. with her husband, Matthew, in 2003.
When they were searching for homes in Saline, Schneider says they wanted to be close to downtown so they could walk to the farmers market, restaurants, shops, and local events. While they have the convenience they craved, they also have become part of a neighborhood community that they cherish.
“I think it’s one of the most valuable things that we have,” Schneider says. “It’s what makes our home a home is that we love these people who live around us. And we love celebrating their victories, and we mourn their losses, and we are always offering each other a helping hand.”
That helping hand could be loaning out a ladder or a chainsaw, looking out for neighbors who have disabilities or are elderly, attending graduation open houses, or starting a meal chain for someone who has had surgery.
Their children, sixteen-year-old Ava and twelve-year-old Christian, grew up using the footpaths between neighbors’ houses to slip into People’s Park, a linear city park that runs parallel to their street. “It’s just fun back there because you’re right in the middle of downtown,” Schneider says, “but you feel like you’re a million miles away.”
Soon after settling in Saline, Schneider started volunteering. On a recent pleasant fall afternoon, a German flag and a Bavarian banner fluttering on her front porch are hints to one piece of her volunteer history. For seventeen years, she has helped with Saline’s Oktoberfest, which she says this September had its best year ever. She has cochaired the popular event for the last decade.
She is the secretary of Saline Main Street, which promotes downtown, and chairs the design team that recruits sponsors to help pay for the flowers that adorn downtown light poles as well as student art and military and veteran banners. She also serves on the city’s risk-assessment committee and its officers’ compensation committee.
“I consider the downtown an extension of my front yard and that is why I do what I do for our community,” says Schneider, with Huck, the family’s golden retriever, at her feet. “I really want Saline to be as vibrant and successful as possible.”
Her commitment to Saline and her neighborhood is on brilliant display in their yard, with its beds and pots of flowers and plants that in the past have won her one of the city’s coveted annual Green Thumb awards.
This spring, the Schneiders planted 1,140 pink and white begonias in two front-yard flower beds, while pink and white impatiens in pots cascade down the front and back steps on their wide sweeping porch.
The pink and white flowers mirror the pink siding of their Victorian house, built in 1910, and its white trim. When it came time to paint the house’s exterior, Schneider says they consulted a University of Michigan expert who advised them that a dark color is more historically appropriate for a Victorian-era house.
But, after some consideration, they decided to paint it pink again.
“It has grown on us,” Schneider says.