The kitchen reminded me of my grandmother’s on her farm, very simple, with a place for a stove, a place for a refrigerator and a work table. There was only one small built-in cabinet, just large enough to hold a kitchen sink.
The house had three bathrooms, which sounds nice, but all were outdated. The bathroom on the main floor was constructed in the 1920s and, I’m sure, was the first indoor bath to be incorporated into the house. It was really just an appendage that protruded from the rear of the original 1818 center stairway. The bathroom tiles were beautiful, handmade in a wonderful shade of moss green with a Majolica feel about them. A large oval pedestal sink with a fluted column base was attached to the back wall, while the other three sides floated in the room. Upstairs were two very straightforward baths, one built in a former stairwell, the other built into the eave of the roof. The latter was so very cramped that it looked to be a 1950s afterthought.
I could see immediately that, though the kitchen and baths were very charming, all of them would have to be gutted and redone. It wasn’t just their placement; they were no longer functional for today’s living standards. The 1920s renovation may have been done for the same reasons—since the home had been built in 1818, it’s likely that nothing was wired properly and there was no indoor plumbing. I guess it’s appropriate every 100 years to think about a big remodel.
The house had been leased as an office for the 20 years before I first toured it, so the electrical components looked new. The problem was that all the wires ran in conduits attached to the face of plaster walls. Each room had one center light, electrified with the old knob-and-tube wiring, which couldn’t be good. And as I would later find out, all the new breaker boxes were wired into a hidden electrical panel with fuses, circa 1920s. The air conditioning seemed to work—that was a plus.
Yet despite all its negatives, there was just something about the house. It felt special. The tall and gracious rooms were warm, and you could feel their sense of place in time. The natural light was amazing.
It was a keeper, and I wanted my husband, Danny, to see it and for us to explore the possibilities. I knew that this fine historical house could once again become a residence, its rooms filled with love and laughter that only a family could bring.