If only the exposed and decaying walls could talk.
Sometimes I just stop and stare at all the detail, the uniqueness and classic quality. I can’t help but feel a sense of loss, even shame and heartbreak when seeing such craftsmanship left to the elements.
I think of its old residents that once enjoyed iced tea on the rotting porch or watched hordes of children run about in the now overgrown fields. I’m sure the broken upstairs window was once left open on warm evenings; hand-sewn curtains slow dancing with the faint summer breeze.
Over the centuries, think of the families that have lived, loved and lost behind its heavy solid wood entrance. Think of all the wars these houses have known, the conflicts and revolutions or the soldiers that once called these teetering works of art home.
Gazing upon these decaying classics, it’s reminiscent of Miss Havisham’s Satis House from the Charles Dickens classic, Great Expectations. A once grand house that was left to waste by Miss Havisham out of rage and disappointment of being abandoned by her fiancé on her wedding day.
Antique homes are like pampered children with special needs. They can be temperamental, requiring extra attention. A separate set of rules applies to antique homes. I know this because I live and own a 200-year-old maintenance magnet.
Yet, I appreciate and love every crack in the wall and each exposed nail head on the wide plank floor. There are carved initials on the wall of the attic stairs. These little reminders and treasures of character are not found in the more modern homes.
There’s no vinyl siding to hose off, only chipped clapboards requiring arm-numbing sanding and paint. Creaky wooden floors expand and contract with the changing seasons. Cellars are musty and reek of moisture. Hallways are drafty and original windows painted shut. The electrical work is questionable. You learn early on not to run the space heater and blow dryer at the same time. If you have a sensitive plumber that understands the old pipes and leaky nature, you often value them more than the family dog.
Old houses require constant upkeep and attention. It’s like taking care of an elderly loved one; take extra time and don’t expect miracles. Some require a special diet but it’s important to always keep them comfortable and warm.
An old house is a labor of love, requiring much time and expense. Unfortunately, in some cases, salvage is beyond repair. With rotted out floors and compromised foundations, the journey and effort is more extensive than most people are willing to commit. With this being said, I can understand why some of these houses are ignored, left in the dark with no one to putty the cracks or repair a water damaged pillar.
If you see a Satis-Style-House, stop and take a few moments and appreciate the once prideful ruin. Try to imagine it in its once grandeur personality, with all its classic lines of workmanship and beauty.
“It was spacious and I dare say had once been handsome, but every discernible thing in it was covered with dust and mold, and dropping to pieces.” (A description of Satis House from the Charles Dickens classic, Great Expectations.)