Looking at the frosty art work left on the windows of this old house (plagiarism admitted) this February morning is a singular pleasure. It makes me appreciate the experience of occupying a living piece of history. Yeah, I know. The fuel truck stops here a lot more than it does at my neighbors “new” homes. I’m also apt to be seen wielding scraper, sandpaper, and paint much more often than they are with their plastic siding. Nothing’s level. A marble dropped in one corner quickly winds its way across the room over the wavy uneven floor. The windows rattle in a good blow, but their hand blown defects lend a magical distortion to the views outside. Every time one breaks, I’m sad that the replacement pane is so perfect. Being a Yankee, I know it makes good economic sense to replace the siding and windows with new more efficient ones. I just can’t do it. I would really miss the magic frost painting on the leaky windows and the other joys of living in something that has such a past.
My house is around 200 years old (exact dating is difficult, but the beams were sawn with a pit saw!), and like me is an antique. Its an old saying that you don’t own an old house, you are just caretakers. Old houses are out of favor today. Young folks (and a lot of retired smart old folks) won’t put up with the maintenance necessary to keep them up. When the front door doesn’t open, it’s not just adjustment that is needed. The sills have rotted and the whole house needs to be jacked up to replace them!
So, why do I stay? Ask those who inhabit old houses and you’ll get a whole range of answers. There are things that come with age: Patina, character, durability, a sense of time and history. Who were the people who lived here? What has this house seen? In the time since my house was built electricity was harnessed, the civil war and many more were fought; we now fly through the air to get places, we’ve been to the moon, and many more incredible things have happened.
I’m in the real estate business. I understand that people want houses that don’t tie them down to a lot of work and are efficient. That’s fine. That’s why there’s chocolate and vanilla. I have a wonderful new home listed at 1750 Lake Street in Bristol MLS #4221251 whose entire energy bill for the YEAR is what I spend to heat my house for a month! It’s a wonderful home and I’ll sell it to some folks who will appreciate its efficiency and craftsmanship.
Maybe soon I’ll come to my senses and trade up to a new home that will require less of my time and effort to maintain. But for now I’ll look out my leaky windows on a February morning to see what Jack Frost has created with his icy brush and relish being an antique and living in one.
Kim Cedarstrom is a licensed residential and commercial Realtor(R) and consultant and president of Great Northern Real Estate and Business Advisors, an affiliate of Roche Realty Group offering a lakefront/residential real estate practice as well as commercial property and business sales services. Kim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org , on his web site www.greatnorthernreba.com or directly at 603-520-6609