I want to talk about my feelings for a house. The house we lived in for almost 36 years. Where we raised our kids. Where our granddaughters learned to climb stairs. The house that stores many, many memories. The house we thought we would never leave.
When we were house hunting in 1986, the market was like today: many buyers were competing for the same properties. We offered full price: $127,000. Our interest rate was 14%! And though we had already owned a smaller house, in this house, for years, I felt like I was playing house. It was a large New England frame style, built in 1873 and, delightfully, its period features had been maintained. I marveled over the tin ceiling in the kitchen. The pocket doors between the dining and living rooms. The pine floors were worn and scratched, yet beautiful to my young eyes. I loved the staircase, the bull’s eye molding, the original rope and pulley windows, the noisy and unpredictable radiators.
We made some improvements and re-decorated every room – heavy on wallpaper, antique (which is to say, used) furniture and period trinkets from junk stores. We turned the bat-centric attic into living space, which lived many lives as a guest suite, a sleepover haven and a gym.
And speaking of guests, because our house was somewhat centrally located and large, our home became the de facto extended family gathering spot. We hosted nearly all the family Thanksgiving, renting extra tables and chairs to accommodate the numbers. All the siblings, all the cousins, the partners, the babies. Darling Lo’s first birthday was held in this house. And with a crowd of 40+, we felt this was its biggest gathering ever. Until our daughter informed us that she had certainly held larger soirées when we were away.
So, why this ode to a house? Because it is no longer our home. Over time, its age and our ages began to grow incompatible. What I once viewed as period “charm” began to feel like impending maintenance challenges. But, moreover, we came to realize that what really mattered to us was to be near our children and grandchildren, who did us a big favor by moving with 5 minutes of each other thus removing any indecision of who to live near.
There was joy in giving things away (we sold nary an item) to family and to strangers. And actual tears of joy in finding a perfect family to take on a dollhouse I had long neglected. We set many items by the side of our street to be grabbed within hours. We offered items to the new buyers and were charmed that they picked truly belonged in the house.
While in our final days, amidst the mayhem, our house was honored by visit from a woman who grew up in it. Though she hadn’t been inside since she was eleven, she maintained a multitude of memories. As she visited each room, she had stories to tell about what the house meant to her. This was the closure I needed: assurance that we were not losing the house we loved, or destroying a legacy for our children. We will maintain all we loved about our 36 years but are passing our torch to another family who will build on the foundation of memories.
So, many thanks to This Old House at 48 Broadway. You have truly stood the test of time. I know you will be a fine host for your current and future guests. I do hope you get to maintain your 1873 charm, though maybe with new windows.