Millennial interabled couple begins 70-year-old farmhouse accessibility renovation
REMBERT, S.C. (WIS) - Watch out, Chip and Joanna Gaines. A Columbia couple is building an impressive home, but it’s not impressive because of the décor.
Down a quiet country road in Rembert is a 70-year-old farmhouse that is literally, physically, and aesthetically stuck in time.
Inside it are two new homeowners, a couple who met and fell in love during their undergraduate days at the University of South Carolina. Sophie Keyes and Michal Hoge are newly engaged and ready to make it their own. But before they can lug in the couch and the bed frame, they have to gut the house and recreate it from the ground up to accommodate a wheelchair.
So, why choose a dot on a map off Highway 261 in the Horatio/Hagood area of Rembert? It’s where Hoge’s earliest memories took form… it’s where he grew up.
“I had free reign to run and ride and jump and play and hide and hunt and fish all over God’s creation out here. It was very influential to what made me…me,” said Hoge. Hoge’s family still lives just feet away. The couple is envisioning backyard parties, get-togethers around the dinner table, and family holiday gatherings. “He is his full self here. And I knew that if we came back that he would really be able to thrive,” said Keyes.
Thriving has been an adaptive quality for Hoge. WIS first met Hoge and Keyes years ago as they fought to bring awareness to a need for ADA compliance upgrades at Williams Brice Stadium. A video of Hoge went viral after he was carried into his gifted seat on the 50-yard line. Hoge was paralyzed after a swimming accident in 2015.
“Your life isn’t over when this thing happens and it can lead you to things you never expected,” Keyes said.
Keyes and Hoge both said they don’t know if they ever would’ve met and connected had it not been for Hoge’s accident. They got together about a year after it happened. They linked up in the right place, at the right time.
Now they’re taking on a new adventure together, buying Hoge’s Great Grandma’s best friend’s home and re-imagining its future.
”There have been aspects of this place…of Horatio that haven’t felt like home to Michal because of accessibility,” said Keyes. “I wanted to be able to help the situation and make sure that he could have his accessible home. That he could still do all the things he grew up loving to do.”
Oh and did we mention they’re engaged?
“Demo day” was August 23rd, 2021. Their wedding is sometime next month, and they’ll have it at this active construction site.
They plan to take this relic of one era into a vision of the future. Soon, it’ll be ready for anyone who steps—or wheels—their way in.
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