Today was a good day....David got up in the mood to take a drive. Even though we've been in our dream house for just over four years now, we still hop in the truck and go sight-seeing and look at the other farmhouses in the area. It's a way for us to just get away and spend some time together....and we both know that the era of farmhouses and crops and livestock is slowly disappearing from even this area of Florida so we want to enjoy the sights and sounds as long as possible.
I also wanted to get a few photos of the two houses we had placed offers on...somewhere there is cd with photos of the houses as well as the original photos we took of our own home, but I can't find the cd and apparently those photos were not recovered after my computer crash a few years ago....anyway, off we went to shoot the photos and enjoy the scenary.....
The 1900 house I wrote of in an earlier post is on a "circle" as in H... B....Circle; this circle meanders its way through fields - some planted with Lays potatoes and some with sod and along the way, you'll pass three farmhouses, all about the same age. Unfotunately, in a few days there will only be two farmhouses remaining as one of them is in the process of being torn down.
As these houses age, the cost to update is prohibitive and most updates are done in the cheapest way possible.....only adding to future problems in many cases. Sometimes, these houses are let go for so long that the cost of restoration is more than the cost to tear it down and build a replica....when long time owners are told this, they usually try to sell it to someone like David and I, or to investors who will flip it, or they abandon it and wait for the land to increase in value. Unfortunately, this house wasn't on the market in 2003 or it may have become ours.....by the time the owners tried to sell it, the real estate bubble had burst and investors are today much more cautious in purchasing these old houses, as are the lenders who provide the money for the renovations, especially true in a house so far gone. In the end, the land was sold and the owners were given salvage rights on the old house. And as we drove by today, the salvage process was in high gear.
We were lucky that the owner's son was actually on site and after talking with him for a few minutes, his father pulled up as well. We soon learned that the house being torn down was built by the brother of the man who built the 1900 Farmhouse we had tried to buy in 2003. The two brothers had owned all the land surrounding the 3 farmhouses and had built each one with timber milled directly from the land. My heart broke as I wandered through the old house seeing where floors had been eaten by termites and roof leaks had destroyed the ceilings of both the upper and lower stories of the house. Evidence of the salvaging that had already taken place was everywhere - where floorboards had escaped the ravages of untreated termite infestation, most had been removed already from the home....but as I walked into the old kitchen I caught my breath.....the original bead board (aka tongue and grove) was still up in that room and for the most part intact. The owner's son assured me that it was original to the house.
We immediately asked if we could salvage that bead board and that which remained in an enclosed sun porch just off the kitchen and were thrilled when we were granted permission to do so....the owners knew our previous owners and were more than happy to help us finish the restoration process of the house and to know that something of theirs would remain of value to someone else.
David and I rushed home to get tools and the trailer hitched to the truck and while I went to pick up Hunter from school David headed back to begin the salvage job.....Hunter and I returned to help him complete it. The beadboard revealed its age not only by the brittle nature of some of the pieces and the fact that it was cypress (protected today) but also by the square nails used to attach it to the walls....behind which there was absolutely no insulation of any sort....nothing between the beadboard and the outside of the house but air and siding (that explains the "$1000 per month heating bill the owner's son mentioned to us). Wait a minute, I forgot to mention one thing....in one corner of the kitchen we did find something between the bead board and the siding.....100 years of mud-dobber nests...emtpy thank goodness!
Although the photos don't do this old house justice, I can assure you that its' former beauty was evident throughout the house....from the wooden staircase to the window casings, to the bay window in the dining room and the wood floors hidden for years under carpeting. Despite our joy at being able to find authentic beadboard instead of purchasing it from Lowes for our bathroom renovation, we were saddened by the loss of this other beauty.....!
Anyway, by 6:30 we headed home with enough bead board to do our bathroom renovations (this year's big project) and perhaps even put up some of it in the mudroom.....
The house will be torn down in the next week or so; no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get the farmer to give me any kind of a time frame other than, "well you can come back if its still standing...."....but that's the way most folks here in the country are...its a different sort of life down here...and I love it.
David will head back over on thursday (his next day off) to see if the house is still standing and if so, he'll try to salvage the window casings and crown molding and ....well, anything that can help us in the renovation of this old farmhouse......and keep the memory of another one alive!