Monday, December 03, 2007

Old Buildings and Thoughts

Every since I was a little girl I have loved being around old things. I can remember being about 5 or 6 when I was looking through my grandmother's barn. There were so many old treasures that I LONGED for as a child. I remember putting my hand on old furniture thinking of all the beauty that could be there. I remember holding up jars and begging my mother to let me take them home. My father did take the jars for me along with an old butter churn. He kept them for me until I had my own home to place them in. Words are not part of my vocabulary to express how I felt as a child looking at all of the old antiques and wishing I could make them beautiful once again.

During my entire childhood and well into my teenage years, I declared that I would someday purchase an old home and renovate it. Never mind the fact that I personally couldn't drive a nail in straight, I was a child and details like that just weren't important. Over the years, my husband and I did renovate an old home. We made good money on the little farm when we had to sell it. In many ways, it is still one of my favorite homes that we have ever lived in even though the ceilings were low and the floors were anything but level.

This brings me to Saturday...a friend called and asked if I would go with her to look at an old country store that is for sale right around the corner. Michael and I went and met her and her husband with their real estate agent. The store was nice, and those same feelings that I had as a child bubbled up in me a bit. However, now I KNOW the work that it takes to pull off a renovation so I kept it in check. Then came the other place... Across the street up the hill sets an old TB Sanatorium. It was built in 1900 and that was the purpose of the building. After the hospital closed, it was turned into a girls' dormitory and eventually purchased by a family that made it their home. The mother of that family died recently. She was in her 90s, and she was still living in the home. This summer the farm around it was auctioned off, and the home was put up for sale.

I walk past this home everyday that I exercise. I glance up high on the hill and wonder what it would have been like in its prime. It is a long shotgun type structure with a front porch that is really larger than it seems next to the giant of a house. I have always wanted to see the inside, and my friend had already inquired about it with the real estate agent. We ascended the big hill and opened the large back door. Quite honestly I wasn't ready for the feelings that rushed into my stomach the minute I walked through the door. I felt like that same little girl standing in my grandmother's barn so desperately wanting to make this place beautiful once again. It took my breath away, and I found myself giddy with excitement. I kept calling my husband to look at one thing after another. The doors are absolutely beautiful with the wood and the handles in top condition. I just stood and looked at the doors for the longest time. I took pictures of some of the furniture left in the home. I would love my husband to reproduce some of them for our home. I left the house with imaginations running wild, but I returned home to my comfort filled home and quickly forgot about renovating anything. Apparently my husband had not forgotten because he shared his thoughts with our three older children. Our oldest two sons are on a mission now to get us to purchase this building and turn it into a home. I think it comes from the fact that all of our 4 boys have always shared a room together!!!

I will have to keep you posted, but for now I am content with what I have. I now know all that goes into fixing an old building and it isn't the romantic notion that it was when I was 6 years old.

grace and peace,


VoiceInTheWilderness said...

My husband and I shared a vision for our family home... we both adored old farmhouses. We made a list of what we were looking for. It included things like "unfinished attic", "hardwood floors", and "large front porch". When we first drove by our dream home, we chuckled because we just knew we couldn't afford it. Boy, were we surprised to find that it was in our price range.

The day we closed on that house, the realtor handed us a piece of rope with two long metal skeleton keys tied on. We were SOOOO impressed. The first night we slept there, a large piece of wood trim fell off the bedroom doorway. Nothing was level, nothing was square. We started to call it "The Money Pit." With every repair we attempted to make, we discovered three more things that needed to be done before the first task could be completed. Ceiling tiles fell, birds and snakes made their way inside with alarming frequency, a wall sank 4 inches in a short period of time, and we spent 6 months of one year living in only the living room and foyer because we couldn't afford to heat the house with 2 propane heaters and 11 foot ceilings.

We sold the house 3 years later. Now when we drive past those charming older homes, we just heave a big sigh of relief. We still find them beautiful, but we know they are not for us.

All that, and I was still completely sucked into your description of the house you are looking at. What an interesting history! Maybe you all can pull off a renovation... you've got some strong-looking young men in your picture. I'm sure they would be a huge help with all the work.

TnFullQuiver said...

Voice in the Wilderness,
Thank you so much for sharing your story with me, and reminding me of the reality of it all. My husband was very grateful to you for your timely input!!! I know we could pull off the renovation, but I don't think I want to invest that much of my life into it. I just wish I were more normal with likes that involved modern everyday homes! I guess that won't ever be the case with me, but it is fun dreaming...without actually doing all the work!
grace and peace,

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