Saturday, July 27, 2013

Chapter the first: In which we buy an old house

I suppose that it takes a certain type of person to be able to look at a crumbling wreck of a house and see beauty and potential. Old houses aren't for everybody, that's for certain, and there is something to be said for safe wiring and working plumbing. Still, when Gill and I first looked at the house we were smitten; the foot high trim boards in the parlor, the multiple fireplaces, old pine floors, wavy glass windows..... it had a charm about it that drew us in and helped us overlook its obvious deficiencies. People stop in all the time to tell us how glad they are that somebody bought it and how they had considered buying it, but... and they sort of trail off, apparently they all had more sense that we did when we agreed to buy this house with the intention of preserving it. We might have ignored its siren song and sailed away unscathed, but instead we raced headlong into it, grinning like a pair of idiots, knowing that it would swallow us in the process and not really caring.

The painted paneling with beaded edge
In the 2 weeks we've lived here we have uncovered real wood paneling, still with its milk painted green color mostly intact. The fourth fireplace that I *knew* had to be there and turned out to be in the oldest part of the house dating to circa 1820. The remainders of the crane are still there and honestly, I about died when we uncovered it. Some really bad and scary wiring that we never would have known about if we hadn't torn down ceilings. A pair of the original shutters, a butter mold, a crazy quilt and 2 wool (or maybe cotton?) carders. And a penciled date written on the plaster in an upstairs bedroom with the date "December 21, 1883", that's the newest section of the house.

Gill has replumbed and rewired enough to make us safe and we are making slow but steady progress day by day. I feel a sense of maternal pride in this home and I love that we live here in this place.

The Kitchen fireplace with crane


  1. I'm so excited to follow your journey! This is quite the project but I have no doubt you will pour blood, sweat, and tears into an unbelievable result!

  2. I love it and I'm so happy for you all!!! Emailed you and can't wait to see you.


  3. The potential is certainly there. Now all it needs is TLC and LOTS of hard work! Can't wait to see how the project progresses. Now let me ask a stupid question (that I could google but would rather ask) - what's a crane?


      There you go! ;-)

    2. It's nice to see that you and the family finally have a place to call your own. I'm sure that it will work out for you and with passing time you'll have it "whipped into shape". Good luck and I'll be checking in for updates. :)

      BTW, in the "painted paneling" picture, who are those people in the pictures on the wall?

    3. Thanks Bill, I appreciate that!

      About those portraits, I don't know who they are. Gill bought them for me for Mother's Day. They are from an estate in Barnstable, MA and though I didn't know it then, they date from the early 1800s, the same era in which this first became somebody's home.

  4. Very exiting,restoring a building and making it a home once more.Will be watching and enjoying your progress.
    Thanks to Tiff for putting me in your direction.x

  5. I found my to your blog via Folded Gingham. I am so interested in following your journey! We bought and had my family homestead restored a couple of years ago (we are not DIY'ers!). It was in a terribly run-down state after having left the family and then rented out for many years.
    I am fascinated by the history of old homes and am especially impressed with the fact that you and your husband are taking on this project yourselves.... I will follow with anticipation and awe!!

    1. Thanks Penny, I'm fascinated by history too and old homes especially!


I love reading your thoughts and appreciate them all. Thank you!