The Old House circa 1930
The old house was right on the lake and everyone knew it. So when people started to notice that the house was gone, I guess it was inevitable that they would offer their opinions and thoughts about it. We can hear them saying, “it’s gone!” and “I loved that house” and “did it burn?” from their boats.
We have seen one such comment that said, in essence, what a shame to have destroyed an historic, circa 1880, house. We totally agree. And nobody has felt the pain of taking this house down more than we have because nobody loved the house as much as we did. Others may have liked the way it looked on the water’s edge or they may have thought they’d enjoy an afternoon on the porch but nobody really knew that house like we did. And you can’t really love something, or someone, for that matter, without knowing it intimately.
When we started to think about moving to Maine several years ago, we had some people come out and give us estimates to jack up the house and put a foundation under it. And because we sit on the lake and beside a (what I call) creek but the powers that be call a drainage course or something similar we had some special things we had to do to protect the lake. Just jacking up the house was very expensive. Even without adding a foundation. But we thought about it. And even spoke to our contractor about renovating, insulating, replacing windows and doors, upgrading the electric and plumbing … Nothing was to code. Everything had to be upgraded to code once we started working on it. The cost was going to be prohibitive.
Family on the Porch circa 1959
So we started to consider replacing the house. It took us several years to come to a place where we were close to comfortable with knocking down the old, much loved, full-of-memories house. Last summer we got bold enough to start asking what it would take and what the process would be. We decided that the only fiduciarily responsible thing was tear down the old house and build a new one in its place.
All the back story isn’t for anyone’s edification and it’s not an excuse or an explanation. It’s merely part of our story. I’ve been following a blog about a farm in New York State and the writer is dealing with some of the same things that I feel we may be opening ourselves to. Criticism by those who think they know what is the right thing or better thing to do. I’m not sure how anyone who hasn’t lived in our house, paid our bills, experienced all the twists and turns that we have lived on our path to this exact place in our lives can even perceive that they behave a right to an opinion about our property. Because nobody knows about the tears that we have shed leaving this place at the end of the summer or yearning to be here in the winter, or witnessing the “jaws of death” taking the first bite out of the “little yellow bedroom”.
Nobody is sorrier to see the house gone than we are. We loved it. Our kids, especially Ned’s kids, loved it. We knew the roller coaster floor (over the rocks in the kitchen and bedroom). We knew where to find a lost dog ball that rolled toward the lake when dropped. We knew the singed rafters and the carpenter ants in the attic. And we loved every bit of each quirky crazy square inch.
Grandma Thomas making rugs in the living room
We are building our new home on sacred ground. Where Ned grew up. Where his mother and father spent weekends (unchaperoned … GASP!) before they were married. Where aunts and uncles shouted and where grandma braided the wool rugs with wool from local mills. Where Ned last saw his father alive. Where we came on our day off from being camp counselors in the summer of 1976 when we were first dating and again in 2007 after nearly 30 years apart.
Ned’s Dad Cooking Fish (for breakfast) in the Kitchen
We are grateful to have this beautiful place to call home. We honor the past and the old house and will build our new house with love and respect and family and some of the floors, beams, doors and windows from the old house that Ned lovingly salvaged.
We are gong to be married here in a year or so. We are happy.