EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

March 15, 2013

Japanese-meets-castle home is fine fit for young couple

As first-time homebuyers Cate and Paul Plekon shopped for houses in 2009, their thoughts kept returning to a certain two-bedroom.

"We kept comparing everything we saw to (it)," said Cate, 28.

"It was one of those things you always hear people say: 'You know it when you see it.' We experienced that," said Paul, 30, a health-care subrogation employee.

Perhaps the midcentury former duplex stuck with them because of its Japanese-meets-castle-like qualities.

"It is unique," said Cate, a yoga instructor.

The east-facing home shares a front yard with Cypress Creek, which runs through the surrounding neighborhoods and northeast along the couple's property.

The Plekons call the waterway "the moat."

Rather than see the concrete-lined drainage ditch as a blemish, the original builder of the property, John Robert Durschlag, who built the house in the '60s, turned it into a beauty mark.

He created a little bridge linking the property to the street, among other distinctive features.

The previous owner, Eric Wilson, who sold the Plekons the house in 2009, took its unusual qualities to the next level.

Wilson built a horizontal slatted fence along the front of the property, across the bridge and along the "moat."

To a point.

At some time in the property's 40-plus-year history, a fence made of large concrete composite squares set in wooden frames was erected to continue the property's Japanese influences and separate it from its neighbors.

"We don't know who built that fence," Paul said.

Wilson also built a wooden gate as an entrance to the property where the bridge meets the sidewalk and parking area, giving the home even more privacy and an even more fairy-tale-like quality.

Wooden walkways, decks and oak trees surround the house, with the trees as much a part of the design as the moat.

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