Once upon a time......in 2005 Bill and I found ourselves in a very unique position nestled between a rock and a hard place. In an attempt to save money, we were living in a house owned by his grandmother (and had been by her father, grandfather, great grandfather and great great grandfather before her).....funny thing is, she lived there too. Grandma told Bill that she wanted him to have her treasured home when she was gone. She kept her house so nice and we were honored that she would trust us with caring for it. Somehow....its all a blurr now....we thought it would be a good idea to move in with her while she still lived there. This arrangement, while looking great on paper, turned out to be a little more difficult than I had planned.
Bill was starting up his business and shortly after, I gave birth to our son. We had just about no money, Bill was working crazy hours, and we were living in two bedrooms upstairs...with a baby. I think the hardest part for me was that Grandma's house was right on a very busy road in a mixed use area. I hadn't pictured raising my family in a housed sandwiched in by used car dealerships (rocks) and old motels (hard places). But here we were and I was trying my darndest to make the best of it.
Our rescue arrived one day in the form of my sister, Peg. She didnt know it (heck neither did I) but I was going to take her to see this little brick house for sale in the village down the road just because it was cute.
And I would never have the guts to go alone.
And just because it had been on the market for over a year.
And just because it looked lonely.
And just because why not even though we're not shopping for a house.
I'd asked around about the house and had heard bad things...like the ceilings on the 2nd floor were only 6 feet high. Anyone who knew of the house referred to it as Mary Morgan's house. Aparently, Mary Morgan was the little old widow who lived in the house for many years. I'm still not sure if she was poor or just really cheap (or both) but she was the last citizen of our village to have electricity run to her house. She also tore down every out building on the property and lived in one room in the back of the house heated with a coal furnace until the day she died.
When I heard these stories, I should have run the other way. Of course, it only made me want to see the house more. I have a penchant for all things old and sentimental so I instantly felt a connection to this place. It had a history.
Peg and I pulled into the driveway of this little house and were deciding whether to run up and take a quick peek into the windows when the neighbor walked up and told us to go right in.
There she is, sis!
"The house is unlocked because the owner really wants to sell it." she said. "Go right in. Really, its okay."
So in we went.....My sister and I.....I who had no intention of moving out of grandma's house and hadn't spent one second planning to check this little square house out.
The Master bedroom with its "exposed cupola" complete with boarded up windows and bat access.
There are so many parts to a house from the roof to the cellar but this is what I remember seeing the first time through. Wide pine floors, tall windows everywhere, brick walls that were at least 2 feet thick, two fireplaces and a beautiful back yard for our kids.
big bright windows in every room!
The owner really wanted to get rid of the house. He had started to remodel but was selling it "as is". There were wires sticking out of the walls, Plywood floors in the kitchen and bathrooms, no ceiling in the dining room or kitchen and exposed drywall throughout.
Kitchen Cabinets crafted by the Amish....a definite plus!
The optimist can look at this and say, "Would you just LOOK at the potential!"
The optimist's husband, the plumber looks at this and says, "Why the $#@& is the bathroom plumbing on the outside of the dining room walls?
I knew I couldn't tell my practically minded, contractor husband that I had just seen the house of our dreams. He would step 3 feet into the house and look past the floors and fireplaces and just see all the work. Well I took a chance and "nonchallantly" mentioned that Peg and I had gone to check out "that little square brick house in town just for giggles." Somehow he was interested in hearing about it which was the open door that I hadn't even dared hope for.
We were just saying, "Our first home should have a mailbox with a poor excuse for an American flag painted on the front of it." Perfect!
Two weeks later we were sitting in the realtor's office signing papers to put an offer in on the house. There were so many obstacles in our way. We didnt have the money for a mortgage payment, The owner had already accepted an offer from someone else who was just waiting on the financing from the bank, the unfinished electric and siding prevented the house from passing inspection. I really couldnt believe what we'd gotten ourselves into.....
The remnants of the little room Mary Morgan "inhabited" while she let the rest of the house go to pot.
....but the house was selling for the prettiest little song I ever heard. Somewhere in all of this, We paid off our car and, poof, we had enough for a montly payment. The owner permitted us to finish the electric and siding on the back of the house. It truly just all fell into place. Sadly, reader, this wasnt even the hard part.
One reason the house was so cheap was the treacherous staircase. No mother in her right mind would let her child use these...GAH!
Yes and the vines strangling the electric service accompanied by the bashed in window were a big selling point. I look at these pictures from 7 years ago and declare my 2006 self certifiable.
The only closet in the entire house was at the top of the stairs...how does one achieve that wall color? Is it even a color? I like to call the old rug padding slouched on the floor, "The Twins"
We still had to tell grandma that we werent carry on the family tradition of living in her house anymore. That part is a blurr too except that Bill came home for lunch and I made us egg salad sandwiches. Grandma should've known something was up because I never made egg salad.
She took it like a champ. I think she was shocked and even disappointed but she loved us and knew what it was to have dreams (I think that she was also kind of glad to get her kitchen back to herself).
We moved in two days before Christmas, 2006. I bought a little potted tree at the grocery store and declared that was all the present I needed. We had a house of our own! Oh how sweet that sounded!
So, here we are at 85 Virginia St, pinching pennies, rewiring, drywalling, painting, planting and making memories along the way. Just the other day, out of the blue, the pumpkin, sitting in our half-finished kitchen, looked at me and sighed, " I love our house, mommy."
In the future, I hope to write more about what we've finished, what we're working on and what we plan to do. This blog is, after all, named after our house :)
Thanks for reading