MEDINA, Ohio — South Court Street could have become just another tired stretch of outdated houses, ripe for redevelopment.

But a group of residents had a different vision.

Seven years ago they formed the South Court Historic Neighborhood Association, a group dedicated to preserving the street’s small-town charm and safeguarding their property values. Recently they showed off their progress during a home tour.

The street extends south from Medina’s landmark square and is lined with a mix of homes ranging from grand Victorians to simpler bungalows. Historical markers and street-side flower planters have been added through funds from the annual tour.

The neighbors’ original plan was to turn the street into a historic district, but that required a vote of the public and more effort than seemed reasonable, said Dave Edmonds, the group’s president. So they opted instead to create a neighborhood association and to take more of a grass-roots approach to historical preservation.

“Actually, ‘neighborhood’ is a more important word (than ‘historic’),” Edmonds said. The effort brought together people with a common interest, and “we now know our neighbors,” he said.

Edmonds and his wife, Marie Mirro Edmonds were the association members who opened their home for the tour.

The couple bought their double-bracketed Italianate house nearly 30 years ago as a place to raise their family. The building’s condition was poor, it had no insulation, and its plumbing needed to be replaced; but it also had oak floors, tall windows and loads of character.

“We were just sort of fascinated by it,” Edmonds said. They lived in a five-bedroom production home at the time, “and it was just boring. This is not boring.”

Edmonds likes to say he has touched almost every square inch of the house during an extensive renovation that has included having 13 coats of paint sandblasted off the exterior, removing a pantry off one entry, remodeling the kitchen and installing crown molding, baseboards and window trim — cherry in the living room and oak elsewhere. Despite its elegance, the house had only plain pine baseboards that were flush with the walls and picture rails, thin strips of molding from which pictures were hung.

The house was built around 1874 by Harvey H. Sage, a farmer who sold it in 1875 to an attorney and clerk of courts named Joseph Andrew. It survived an arson attempt in 1905, when the back porch was set afire and an oil can was found nearby.

Supposedly the house served as a way station for industrialist John D. Rockefeller, who rested his horses there during trips between Cleveland and Chippewa Lake. Edmonds found evidence to corroborate that story when he stripped wallpaper in the breakfast room, revealing a pencil sketch on a wall of a man in a top hat and the signature, “John D. Rockefeller.”

“I thought, ‘Oh, my God, I’m rich!’” he said. Unfortunately, his research showed the signature didn’t match the billionaire’s, but he still coated the drawing with polyurethane to preserve it beneath the paint that now covers it.

Just down the street from the Edmondses’ house is a blue Victorian with cheery red and yellow trim that Ellen and Josh Nolan share with children Bobby, 4, and Nora, 6.

The house represents a balance between history and modernity, between the ornate style of its heritage and Ellen Nolan’s preference for simpler decor.

It’s also a house where an active family lives, complete with toys and a big TV.

Ellen Nolan wants people to know that living in an older home can be compatible with real life.

“We constantly try to find a balance between having the history of the home and making it fit for us,” she said.

So what was once a downstairs bedroom now serves as a cozy TV room, and the attic has been converted to a play area. Elaborate period furniture decorates the living and dining rooms, but it’s balanced by wallpaper treatments that are a bit lighter and simpler than the Victorians would have used. Large-scale family photos are displayed in the stairwell, framed by old windows that were salvaged from the Nolans’ house and their neighbors’.

The house was built around 1890 for Orlin and Emily Oatman, members of a family that constituted some of the Medina square’s original business owners. Their daughter was married in the house, Ellen Nolan said, and the couple celebrated their 50th anniversary there.

The house serves as an ideal backdrop for a collection of 19th-century furniture handed down from the Nolans’ family members. A pair of Eastlake-style chairs that belonged to Ellen Nolan’s great-grandparents flank the living room fireplace, and their table and chairs fill the dining room. The sofa came from Josh Nolan’s grandmother, whose teacups are displayed on shelves. Just below the teacup collection is a console table that belonged to Ellen Nolan’s grandmother and was a recent gift from her aunt.

Ellen Nolan prizes the quirks of the house, such as the cornice over one dining-room doorway that was spliced together long ago by some thrifty craftsman who evidently didn’t have enough wood to make the cornice from a single piece of lumber.

“I love that,” she said. “Perfectly imperfect.”