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Four generations have left their marks on this old Alto home
Marcia Scroggs walks past the original barn behind her Alto home. The house was built in the 1800s by her husband's family.

When it was first built, the home had all the modern-day conveniences - a smoke house, a sturdy barn and a well right off the kitchen.

And for about the next 50 years, not much changed; the family farm stayed in working order and kids grew up. But by the time Joe Scroggs' mom and dad moved into the family farmhouse, it lacked electricity and running water.

Some updating was needed. Desperately.

"The old house didn't have running water, they didn't have a bathroom until they remodeled it," said Joe, who has lived in the house with his wife, Marcia, for about 20 years. The couple moved in following Joe's mother's death.

"The house was spooky, for a kid," said Joe, who was in the fifth grade when his family moved into the house. "My brother and I had a bedroom upstairs, and we had the outside toilet, which wasn't much fun in the wintertime."

Extensive renovations made in the 1950s brought the house into the 20th century, but Joe's wife, Marcia, says it's also a lesson in preservation, too.

In the photo taken of the home in the early 1900s, a porch wraps around most of the house. During the 1950s renovations, along with adding electricity and plumbing, the family tore off the porches and reconfigured a few of the rooms inside.

After moving into the house in 1992, the Scroggs added a new front porch, but while the home still stands on its original 100-plus-year-old foundation, it would simply be too much to bring the home back to the way it was originally built.

"There was no way to make it happen," said Marcia of the renovations needed. As it was, she and Joe added central heat and air conditioning.

"We lived in it I guess for six or eight months, for one summer sitting in our chairs with nothing but a fan on and pretty uncomfortable," she said. We decided to redo it, and take what was there and add to it."

But while the exterior has changed from its original state, the home's history continues in the details.

Joe's mother's farmhouse-style sink still serves its purpose in the kitchen. Heart pine floors are throughout much of the home, which are original to the house. And the pump house, smokehouse and barn have been lovingly restored.

And in bedrooms, sitting rooms or in the smokehouse, mementos of past generations continue to live on. Joe's mother's quilting frame and his father's wooden lunch box are stored in the smokehouse. A bench on the back porch was hand crafted by a family member, too, and there's an area behind one of Marcia's gardens where something other than flowers grow.

On a sloping hill, chips of pottery, plates and glassware seem to sprout from the ground.

"Back in the olden days they didn't have anybody to take their garbage," said Marcia as she picked up a piece of blue and white china. "Every day I find something new. I've found six or eight whole bottles. I think it's just fascinating"

One of the prized family heirlooms lines the driveway, the walkway through the front yard and many side yards, too: Rock walls built by Joe's grandmother.

"My grandmother brought all those rocks up from the woods and the creeks in an old horse-drawn sled," Joe said. "It's absolutely unbelievable the rock work, what she did."

Marcia agreed, noting she's tried to rebuild some that have fallen, but between work and keeping up with the rest of the house, she simply doesn't have enough time.

But, she added, it's important for owners of old homes to cherish what they have.

"If they can preserve it, I think they (should) preserve it as much as possible," she said. "But in today's times people can't do without air and heat."