Returning to the 1867 Victorian home of her grandparents for the first time in 94 years was a dream come true for 99-year-old Elizabeth Bryant Miles of Princeton, N.J., who hadn’t been in the iconic brick and stone house since 1919.

Returning to the 1867 Victorian home of her grandparents for the first time in 94 years was a dream come true for 99-year-old Elizabeth Bryant Miles of Princeton, N.J., who hadn’t been in the iconic brick and stone house since 1919.

Her birthday wish to visit the Independence home of  Dr. John Bryant Jr. and his wife, Harriet, came to fruition on May 5 – two days before her 100th birthday.

Elizabeth made the whirlwind trip not only to see the three-story, 22-room house at 519 S. Main St., but also to return some family keepsakes to the Bryant home, where she and her mother lived for most of a year while her father was a World War I doughboy.

In addition to keepsakes, she also brought lots of memories of a then 6-year-old to share with Gary and Nancy Barr who purchased the 19th century home in 1989 and began renovating it to its former splendor. Interior work is still in progress on the historic home, listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“We were elated a 100-year-old woman would even be able to travel back here, let alone have the memories of the time she was here,” says Gary. “But her mind was as sharp as a tack.”

Accompanied by her son and daughter-in-law, Dick and Susan Miles, Elizabeth went from room to room on the first two floors sharing her childhood memories, unwilling to slow down until she had explored the entire house. Nancy says Elizabeth opted not to climb the stairs to the third floor. She had seen enough.

While on the first floor, Elizabeth recalled she use to look south out of a particular dining room window in the evening and watch the lamplighter ride up on his bicycle and turn on the gas street light on Pacific Avenue, which fronted the corner home on the south.

Curious if the street light was still there, Elizabeth asks Nancy to take her to a window so she could see for herself. To prepare her for what she was about to see, Nancy tells Elizabeth: “Well, there are two windows. If you look out this one, you can see the light better.  But, she reminds her, “it’s not gas (anymore).”

Admiring the restored skylight overlooking the stairwell on the third floor triggered a remembrance about a good deed that turned sour.

One of Elizabeth’s greatest memories, Nancy says, was the time she and a friend  decided to clean what they considered to be a dirty skylight.

“They went upstairs with a bucket and a mop, poured the water out on the skylight glass and started mopping,” Nancy says, looking in horror as water cascaded down the grand staircase.

And, yes, “They got in big trouble.”

Though Elizabeth’s grandfather was a physician and practiced until 1890, in the eyes of 6-year-old Elizabeth, he acted as a dentist on one occasion. Looking into a second-floor bedroom, Elizabeth remembered that it was in this very room that her grandfather once practiced his dentistry skills on her cousin.

Taking one end of a string and tying it to a closet knob, Elizabeth recounted how he then attached the other end to her cousin’s loose tooth, slammed the closet door and out it came.

“And I sat there and watched it,” she says.

On another occasion, Nancy says Elizabeth observed her grandfather as he put her infant brother into a tub of water, then pulled him out as he attempted to lower the baby’s 105-degree temperature. With the wet patient in his arms, he opened a window – and with frigid air coming through – he held the baby in front of the window to break the fever.

And it worked. “That’s how a professional doctor did it (then),” Elizabeth says.

Elizabeth, though, didn’t spend all of her four-plus hours in Independence touring the old Bryant home. Before leaving around 3:30 p.m. to catch a flight home, Elizabeth enjoyed both a birthday luncheon and birthday party in the large dining room with friends and family members.

When asked to blow out the candle on her birthday cake and to make a wish, Nancy says  Elizabeth replied:  “It was hard to think of anything to wish for, because I have already got my wish: I got to come and see this house again.”

Elizabeth didn’t return to Independence empty-handed. She showed the Barrs a crib quilt that an Independence needle guild made for her circa 1913.

Embroidered on each of the eight-inch nursery rhyme squares was the initials of the quilter. Among them were the initials of Bess Wallace (later Truman) and Harriet Bryant, Elizabeth’s grandmother.

The patch quilt, however, is not a gift to the Barrs. Because of its historical significance, Elizabeth is giving the quilt to the Truman Presidential Library and Museum for safekeeping.

“Rather than to give it to us, it is more important that it be given to the Truman Library where it can be displayed properly,” Nancy says.

Adds Nancy: “She also gave us some monogrammed napkins that the Bryants had. She said there were originally 30 of them, but 10 have gone elsewhere. So there is now 20.”

A thank-you note to the Barrs, dated May 6, 2013, reveals Elizabeth’s heart.

It reads: “Thank you for the birthday cake, corsage, the crown, our lunch and the house tour. It was all very different from my childhood. The area is now filled with houses, and, of course, the rooms are much smaller than those of my 5-year-old memories. It was a treat to see it all, thanks to you. Thanks for making it a great 100th.”