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.
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.
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?