The 100 year old house looks out of place. It sits on a huge corner lot with a magnificent growth of oak trees. That all by itself has sold me. The modern houses around the old world craftsman built house are simplistic in design built quickly using cost cutting poor workmanship methods.
A still used train track lies approximately 300 feet from the back of the 2 story home. The exterior of the house has been maintained meticulously giving the appearance someone still cares. I have been told that the granddaughter of the original owner still owns the home, that's why the house still retains it's personality.
Stacey my wife, I am Eric Best having had successful careers and wise investments along with prudent living have retired early and acting on our dream. We are searching for a one of a kind older home still retaining it's original charm. We tease one another by saying we will know it when we see it. It was that easy for me as I walk around the corner and view the size and character of the corner lot. The train tracks did not hurt the property quite the opposite. My grandfather worked for the railroads 40 years filled my head with stories, I absolutely love the "rickety, rick" sound they make and the horn bellowing at a distance.
Stacey however was not sold as easy, she did agree with me the outside was as just as she had dreamed. We see properties that were once picturesque but the outside environment simply did not match. This particular home and it's immediate surroundings literally takes you back 100 years. Original iron fence around the house and a spectacular growth of oak trees that cannot be reproduced. I envision a photograph at this moment in time with a train going by in the background the same as yesteryear.
The real estate agent hands us a key and says "take as much time as you need". We are full of anticipation as we enter the house. Majestic living room with high ceilings, wood floors and beautiful old world style trim. The centerpiece is a magnificent fireplace creating Christmas images in my mind. Off the living room is an equally impressive dining room leading into the kitchen with original fixtures. The kitchen is equally impressive as the other two rooms in over all condition. There are two large rooms appearing completely out of place. Such sharp contrast you immediately ask why? They share the same wood floors and old world trim but have modern drywall, lights and wall switches. The back room has a door leading to the basement. The upstairs is beautiful and more impressive. Most time being spent downstairs thus the upstairs has less wear and tear. The house appears solid and made to last. It will still be standing after the newer houses being built today, if someone maintains it the way it has been.
In order to meet the standards of today, new wiring would be the first requirement also a whole new plumbing system. The original heating system is still in the basement. This house has never known air conditioning. The expense of up grading these systems would cost more than what the homes close to it are selling for. We discuss getting a structural analysis and estimates before proceeding. We also agree you could not build a house like this today.
Before receiving our estimates we get a call from the lady that owns the house. She would like to meet us. Dorothy lives at the finest assisted living in the area. Dorothy is 5 foot tall, walks with the assistance of a 4 toed cane. Dorothy is extremely friendly outgoing and as my grandpa would say as smart as a tack. She tells how there once was cornfields surrounding the house; suburban sprawl kept coming and now all you see is houses. Her grandfather lived in the house until 1950. Her and her mother lived there and her son. He practiced his Veterinarian trade until he died a few years ago. That is why those back rooms are different.
She finally says "the reason I wanted to see you in person is I don't want that house torn down for development. I know it need updating to be lived in. I fully understand the expense needed to do so. I would sell it reasonable to the ones who would restore it. If you are interested please get quotes and come back and see me.
The whole situation is perplexing to us so we visit the realtor. He explains Dorothy owns the reality office. Her son is dead she loves that house and she intends to see that it doesn't get demolished. She is in control of her affairs and has enough money to do as she wishes. Stacey and I both agree we love that old house. We go back to visit Dorothy she says "good to see you again Stacey and Eric Best I never forget a name".
"We would like to hear more stories about the house, if you don't mind". Stacey ask, "good heavens no I don't mind. My bowling league does not start until 8 this evening "Dorothy smiles, we laugh. She tells of holidays in the house, playing in the oak trees once she she placed a penny on the railroad track after hearing a boy say how the train will flatten the penny out she wanted one of them pennies. She places a penny on the track and sure enough, the penny was bigger and flat she laughs and thinks that is something. She still has that penny and put it in a special place filled with memories a diary of sorts. She had a crush on the boy next door, they marry and raise one son. Outliving everyone and so many pets she could not remember them all. She wrote stories about them and her family's life. Her whole life her parents and grandparents are chronicled in that diary, newspaper clippings, pictures and such. That diary became rather large and is still in the house. I have misplaced it somewhere before I come to live here. I placed everything that I cherished most since a little girl in that trunk. If you purchase the house please leave it in the house. I wish it to remain there. That is my time capsule. I can leave this world in peace if that happens. I'm terribly sorry I have become overly sentimental, you two came here to hear good things about the house and I fill your head full of drivel please forgive me. Stacey kisses Dorothy on the cheek and I kiss her hand and tenderly say "I hope you bowl a 300 game tonight". What a afternoon!
Stacey and I visit Dorothy every Sunday we absolutely love to hear her reminisce. Stacey starts recording our visits she loves Dorothy's stories so much. It warms our hearts. During our marriage our careers were foremost, occasionally we ask each other have we done the right thing by not having children. Like Dorothy we are all that is left in our families. Funny how you can work thirty years of your life accomplish your goals achieve monetary success and at age 50 question, did we do the right thing?
It has taken many weeks to get bids for updating the house. We visit Dorothy weekly she ask "how much to get the house up to standards, "OH MY" was her reply after looking at the estimates. She says "I have been in touch with my lawyer and wish to sell you the house for $1.00, all you have to do is live in the house and love it, hopefully as I do. One other thing, I hope I'm still around when you move in, I wish to see it one last time". We respect her wishes. Dorothy has contagiously embedded the love of her home into Stacey and me. Absolute strangers wishing to find a one of a kind home have successfully gone beyond and have received a diary told to us and recorded in person. It goes beyond money, we can afford to purchase the house. Dorothy knows that she wants us to have a home. She has furnished us with enough memories to make it so.
One year later we walk Dorothy through her home. We change as little as possible in modernizing. Running new electric wiring without knocking walls down. We redo the plumbing and heating system. We leave the old radiators that use to provide heat to keep the charm intact and leave the old boiler in the basement just for nostalgia. In looks it's new and livable and has the feel and charm of when it was new. Dorothy laughs and smiles while touring her home. She admits to being as happy as she has been in her life. She hugs us, tears fill her eyes, you have made my last wish in life true.
HOPE YOU ENJOYED G. E. G.