A Rare Find

My mother loved old homes, and probably passed that down to me. Throw in a little history, maybe some drama about a place, and I’m hooked. Because of those two items, I read a lot of Victoria Holt in my teenage years. I also enjoyed John Jakes, and Eugenia Price for the same reasons. And yes, when I was younger, I read a wide assortment of genres. Usually spending my lunch hour reading in the library rather than eating, if I had the option.

Because of my mother, we were privileged to live in some real beauties over the years. That also meant a lot of restoration projects, and cleaning! I don’t think we ever just lived in a house. And about the time it was fairly decent, and had a good kitchen, we moved. This happened a few times in my memory. That is probably the reasoning behind so many of my own kitchen projects!

So imagine my surprise when a friend from high school, (actually in my sister’s class I believe) shared this link with me a couple days ago.

https://www.facebook.com/ForTheLoveOfOldHouses/posts/3424158457850183

My parents purchased this house the summer of 1978, the year I celebrated my 14th birthday. We had been living in Burlington, Vermont since that January and my parents saw this house on the way through Crown Point, New York. So about August, we began making weekend trips to the house to clean, paint, and get ready for us to move into. Those were long days, but I was so excited! For one thing, I had hated living in Burlington. It was one of the rare times we had moved to a new house in a new neighborhood, and the schools were not great. I won’t even mention how miserable it was to move to Burlington in January! You can let your imagination run wild and it will be on course.

In a previous post of mine, titled All Hallow’s Eve in 2017, I included this:  A gorgeous home built by the town banker in the late 1880’s from what we were told. His name was A.J. Wyman, and he began a banking business in April, 1881 in Crown Point. My parent’s talked with people all over town getting as much information about the house as possible. They were told that the oak staircase in the front of the house was hand-carved and took a year to make, and other interesting facts and trivia. Some they questioned, because you never know how the stories change over the years. Another item that was shared was that nuns had lived in the house for a while. The Catholic Church in Crown Point was just a little ways from the house. A realtor friend of my parents at the time said the house had porcelain sinks, tubs, etc. originally, and they had disappeared from the house during a time of it being rented.

The summer we arrived, the house had been a duplex. The section that had been for the Wyman family when built, the north side, had been done in oak. The south side was done in cherry, and housed the servants. There were pocket doors between the two sections for servants and family to be able to cross discreetly. So these two sections had been closed off to make two homes. My parents used it for one home, opening it back up.

Because of this, there were two kitchens, and three bathrooms at the time we moved in. For some reason, my mother elected to use the south kitchen, which is what you see in the above real estate pictures. I say for some reason, because the other kitchen was rather nice, actual cabinets and counters. But it was modern, and my mother wasn’t into modern too much back then. She even put a wood cookstove in the kitchen we used. It was located on the same wall where you see the stainless range now. My grandfather built a brick wall for the cookstove, and that’s where I learned to lay brick. When we lived there, the kitchen had no cabinets. Just an old porcelain sink. There was a gorgeous butler’s pantry just off this room, all done in cherry. We kept all our kitchen supplies in there. The other kitchen has now been made into a bedroom, the only one on the first floor.

I was amazed, and so very pleased to see that all the woodwork is still intact, and not painted! It was gorgeous, and it still is. I spent many hours with lemon oil polishing it. My father hung the wallpaper that you see in the front foyer, parlor and what was our formal dining room. That included the wallpaper you see going up the stairs and in the upstairs hall. I remember him placing a long board across that rotunda, and hanging that very heavy wallpaper. It’s wonderful to see that it survived all these years! I had noticed that the red-flocked paper in the northwest room we used as a formal dining room is not finished on the west wall. I seem to recall my father running out of wallpaper, and that was not completed. I will have to ask him about that!

My sister and I had the two bedrooms on the north side of the house with the bay windows. Mine was on the west and her room was on the east. One brother had the room next to mine, that is now a bathroom. The room that was a huge bathroom when we lived there is now a bedroom. Another brother had the bedroom across from the bathroom. It is now where you see the baby bed and whicker furniture. A doorway that was installed, and not original to the house leads to a bedroom in the servant’s section of the house that my parents used. In the pictures above, you see a really pretty bathroom with burgundy colors and an old toilet. This was where the cistern for the house was located, and it was gigantic! That was all that was in that room. The bathroom my father used was the bedroom you now see at the end of the hall. The bedroom across from there has a daybed in it if I remember correctly. When we lived there, the walls in the servant’s quarters were pretty bad. It’s nice to see that they have been updated…but for my taste I would have gone with something not so dark, and that complemented that cherry woodwork a little better.

The large room at the back of the house had been the woodshed. It was pretty rough when we lived there. We used it for a family room, and I had a sleep-over with many friends in that room! The Christmas we were there, we had a huge Christmas tree, and my father anchored it to the supports in the ceiling. The room is nice now, and very cozy-looking. Not to mention the added bathroom that was once my mother’s laundry room. You entered it through where the washer and dryer combo is in the kitchen now.

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Some of my friends on the staircase. And I hope they don’t mind me sharing! 😉

The row of pine trees beside the house on the east side were planted by my parents. My mother would be thrilled to know they grew to be so big! I was surprised to see how very much the house is blanketed by trees. It seemed rather open to me back in the ’70’s. My brother had a horse and a pony that had stalls in the barn, and a corral behind the barn. We kept rabbits there as well. A very large garden area was to the west of the barn. My father grew lots of potatoes that second summer we lived there. He stored them in that cavernous basement beneath the house. It was a terrible thing to hear my mother ask for wood for the stove or potatoes. That meant a trip to that dungeon, and that is exactly what it looked like! I can still remember the damp coal and heating oil smells from all the years before us.

Memories! Mine seem even more sentimental now. My mother is in a nursing home. A small room with very little of the items that she at one time enjoyed having surround her. She does have memories of the Crown Point home, and other homes she enjoyed fixing up and decorating. She often mentions all the work they took to maintain! Slowly, her material items are being given out to family members, and I hope they come to love them as she did.

I suppose this post is more for me than anyone else. A record of my thoughts when I was looking through the pictures that Allison shared with me. I have good memories of my school years in Crown Point. My favorite teachers were there, and I still have many friends that I stay in touch with through social media. Someday…it would be nice to return…preferably with my siblings, and remember the good times.

Not just the bad.

Below is the house our first Christmas. Isn’t it beautiful?

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Main Street – Crown Point, New York, taken Thanksgiving Day 1978

On the Homefront

I think autumn has finally arrived in our part of the world. Here in Kansas it always seems to peek around the edges, giving little snippets of cool weather and fluttery days, mixed with hot and humid. Then suddenly, it’s cold, and the leaves disappear from the trees.

Very different from the autumns I remember as a teenager in upstate New York. The colorful show began in August, evenings with cool suggestions of winter to come. Gorgeous colors seeming to turn overnight. By October, you knew those wintery days were just a breath away, and the holiday season was upon you. It always seemed to be a colorful parade, leading up to a finale of crystal snowflakes.

Here in Kansas, there is no stroll through the off-seasons of autumn and spring. More like a plunge.

So, the kitchen projects I needed to finish took a backseat to the outside projects that kept popping up. I probably shouldn’t word it like that. One would imagine just springing onto the scene, rather than items on a list I always have running through my mind.

Our oldest grandson came for a week or so to help with those outside goals. Poor guy…he will probably never return. This grandma’s house isn’t a safe haven of cuddles and cookies. It’s more of a boot camp for life-training. But there was some baking thrown in for good measure.

He worked like a trooper, helping me dig holes for fencing, and pushing wheelbarrow load after load of dirt to fill holes around the yard. He mixed cement, and got out supplies that are a burden for me after a long day of digging. And he hung in there. Projects that were on my long list were accomplished, and then some. And now this grandmother feels better about the cold winds around the corner.

We assured him that the holidays were upon us, and days of playing games for hours were promised to come. Days when we all can sip hot chocolate and eat yummy baked goods. I hope those remembered other times will be an enticement.

In the meantime, I can look at my very happy roses climbing on the white fence, walk on the stone path Joshua helped me with, and look forward to some steaks on the firepit he helped me move to a larger area.

My beautiful pink roses on the arbor and fence.

At the end of those days with our oldest grandchild, our son and son-in-law helped replace the windows in our bedroom. This was the third set of windows they have done in the past couple of months. It was a huge project…more than we expected…just like all the others. But they are beautiful, and they fit in with all the other windows now. I’m hoping for at least one more warm day to get them painted outside.

View of new windows, and kitchen door installed in kitchen renovation.
View of windows from the inside.

This year has accomplished way more than I had hoped for when it began. The kitchen was to be the main project, and it probably was. But so much more has been done. All with the help of family. Some would read this post and think that all I care about is getting stuff done around the house. Some of those readers may even be my family! 😉 But what sticks out even more in my mind is the time that I have spent with all the family that has been here to help…and that I am blessed to have children, sons-in-law, and grandchildren that are willing to be here for us. And not just when it comes to projects. I know that if we ever need anything, our family would be there in any way that they could to lend a hand. That means so much in this world today of each person looking out for themselves.

The past few months have given me many memories of frustrating times of things not going right, boards in the face, dropped hammers on toes, wiring cut, and rethinking of a plan. But so many more memories of stepping back and thinking, “Wow! We accomplished that!” And I believe all of us can say that. Thank you to everyone for just hanging in there!

Before picture of the east wall with our cat having a snack.

As a side note, I had another blogger at https://bluewillowcottage.com/2018/10/12/make-a-coffee-station-at-home/ ask about my coffee station. It ended up being a question about my previous kitchen remodel in the home we sold in 2020. My how time flies! So here is a picture of our coffee area now. I don’t have it as cute as some, but it is extremely handy. All coffee supplies are located in those cupboards and drawers. The counter provides enough room to hold many cups waiting for coffee. (Grandchildren have some cocoa, lots of cream and a bit of coffee). For me, it works perfectly!

The east wall now.

Making Progress…

With cooler temperatures just around the corner here in the mid-west, I won’t be able to put off our kitchen project finishing-touches much longer. There is something to be said about opening a door and letting the autumn breezes drift through. Especially when you are painting and staining. I will be able to do just that very soon!

The major projects involved are about done. Two extremely gracious and merciful son-in-laws will be over this weekend to install a window in the attic. I rely heavily on this kind of help, and I’m very appreciative of it! Me climbing very high on a ladder has never happened much, and most certainly not now at 56 years young. Hopefully we will have a chance to celebrate the window installation with a hot dog roast over the fire pit. Also a cooler weather kind of thing to do!

I have promised updates on the kitchen. After all the trim is back up, I will share again. For now, just a few little peeks at what has been happening. And may I say again…I absolutely love the kitchen!

The two pictures above are the north wall of the kitchen. The cupboards are all the same color, so something with the bright sunlight coming in the new kitchen door was making the butter-yellow take on a different hue. Note the cookie jar on the left counter. My mother enjoyed her grandmother’s cookies in this little gem.

My view out the new kitchen door, where there was once a window. This is looking northwest.

My view out the same door looking southwest. Our grandson worked very hard digging out this little pond area for me! We have seven goldfish, that aren’t so little anymore. They survived the frigid winter this past February, and they even had some babies. This year the plants had two yellow flowers. It’s been a pleasure to see this view out my kitchen!

I hope you are enjoying the beginning of September in your part of the world. For me, it’s always signaled the start of autumn. A time of cooler weather, more baking, and the delicious aroma of spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and apples.

Have a great day!

The header picture for this post is by: Image by Peter H from Pixabay

Oh Boy!

Sometime, I need to research that phrase. I use it a lot, and I should know what it means. Today it means we are in for some real fun around our house. I may have a few family members that disagree.

I really regret that I never became an architect, or an interior designer, or a landscape designer. I hugely enjoy doing any of those activities. If I had pursued any one of those careers, our financial load may have been lighter as well. But, I’m too old to go there now!

My husband would say that I still engage in those activities much too often. But, he’s still here 36+ years later.

Next week begins our kitchen remodel. We are currently living in our son-in-law and daughter’s home, so they agreed to be part of the fun as well. And they are greatly appreciated for it! (No, they do not live with us…so that may be why they agreed. They can run if they need to!)

My goal is to include pictures of the before today, and then some maybe along the way and after. I love seeing pictures like that! I also love watching DIY projects online as well as home makeover shows for that very reason.

Gray part of flooring is in the kitchen, brown, the dining room.

The floors in the house are in good condition overall. When we originally took up the linoleum in the kitchen, we were going to put down plywood and another laminate flooring we had from our last kitchen remodel. But the floors were still intact! So, we are renting a floor sander and we will be staining.

East wall of kitchen with paneling already taken down. Our cat, Feonie having a snack.

This is the east wall of the kitchen. You can see the gray-painted area where the bathroom door used to be. During the bathroom remodel about five years ago, this was closed off. There were two doors into the bathroom?! Strange…

Northwest wall of kitchen.

The refrigerator will be moved to the east wall. Our son-in-law’s suggestion. I actually take their input every now and then. 😉 Two pantries will be put here.

Southwest wall.

The passthrough will be enlarged to the ceiling. We tall people have a problem with it being so low. The dining room side will have a bar-height eating area for three. The sink will be moved to the right side of the passthrough. I have hopes for a door where the window is now, with a small patio area to sit by the goldfish pond.

Rabbit trail…those goldfish survived our sub-zero temperatures in February and they are still swimming strong! In some pretty mucky water as well. It’s been too cold to do a thorough pond cleaning as planned in March.

So there you have it. We are all hoping and praying that next week goes as planned. Tuesday is the gutting, Wednesday the floor sanding and maybe painting. Thursday and Friday the put together part is planned. But you all know how that goes. We could still be putting together in July! You just never know what you might run into.

Today I need to get painting the base cabinets which are going to be a warm butter yellow…just barely. I have a couple wall cabinets painted so far and I love the color. I’m thinking of making myself an office desk in the same color. It inspires me, somehow.

I will try to post again as we progress…but please understand that may not happen.

As another side note…our grandson has been staying with us prior to the kitchen project. He helped with seven post holes so far. And not digging in dirt. An old graveled driveway. We have thirteen more to go…six for the grapevines and the rest for the fence. But I’m hoping those areas are more dirt than rocks. More pictures to follow from those fun activities!

Have a great day in your part of the world!