As we made the right turn into the driveway of the old farmhouse, David actually stopped the car and breathed "this is it, Lori, this is it".....! I said nothing for a moment ...."She's waiting for us" I finally said. David touched the gas pedal and drove on up the driveway, stopping beside a little foot bridge that crossed one of the two irrigation ditches that lined the driveway..............as I got out of the truck I was hardening my heart....no way was I getting emotionally attached to this house, not as long as there might be the slightest chance that we could get the Cracker House.....
By Thanksgiving of 2003, I had decided that I didn't want to be driving around looking at old farmhouses and placing offers that were not accepted...in other words, I was discouraged. Having tried to place offers on two historic farmhouses, I was tired of having my heart break just a little each time we were unsuccessful. David and I had even been discussing possibly waiting until June of 2004 and changing our search to one for land only and buiding our own "old" farmhouse...... well I was broaching the subject and he was being a good husband and listening to me.
Thanksgiving morning 2003, I took a break from preparing for the arrival of my rather large extended family to check my email. When I saw the one from the Real Estate Agent who had shown us the Cracker House, I tried not to hope that she was writing to tell us that the accepted offer had fallen through and that we could try for that old house one more time. Allison was writing to tell us that the owners of a partially restored farmhouse had come into her office the night before and asked her to market it for them.....she had requested permission to show it to us prior to placing it on the MLS as she felt certain it was "the" house for us......but she added the following "there is no real acreage with this charming old house, but you owe it to yourselves to give it a look".
I kept the information to myself for most of the day....remember, I was discouraged by this point and didn't want another heartbreak so soon after the other one....and I really had yet to let go of the hope that somehow we'd be the owners of that Cracker House with two acres. Then suddenly, sitting down with the family at dinner, the conversation came around to our search....and there I was, telling everyone about that morning's email. Looking across the dinner table at David, I saw his eyes light up and I knew we'd soon be driving down to see that old house....but I was determined not to fall in love with this one....just to get my heart broken a little bit more.
David had to work that weekend and I put that house out of mind, not even returning an email to the agent. But on Monday morning (Dec 1), David wanted to drive down to see the place and I reluctantly agreed; we drove around looking at other properties before finally heading into our agent's office to tell her that we wanted to look at the "charming old house".....as we waited for her to get the keys, her phone rang.....we heard her giving directions to the same house we were there to see. She explained to us that since we hadn't contacted her over the weekend, she had proceeded to market the house to other agents and that one was "getting lost" trying to find it.....That agent's inability to find the house was to prove to be a lucky break for us in the end.....
As we followed our agent down the country roads we realized that the area she was leading us into was very familiar. Over the three years we spent driving around looking at old farmhouses, we'd passed several that made us take a second look and say "if only"......not only because they were in great shape (from the exterior's anyway) but also due to their close proximity to 95.....this was important for David's drive to work.....!
Some of these photos were taken by firstname.lastname@example.org
other's were taken by me or members of my family. The difference is obvious!
The "Charming Old Farmhouse" - some of these photos were taken with my little camera both before we bought the house and through the years since - some of them were taken this past January by a photographer friend of ours using a wide lens.....it almost feels wrong to include my photos in a slideshow with his, but I wanted to give you an idea of just what it was we saw as we drove up the road to see the inside of this place for the first time...the interior shots were taken a few days later when we brought Hunter down to see what was shortly to become his new home. If you'd like to see the photos full size click on the box and then hit "slideshow" when you arrive at the album.
David parked the truck and got out much more quickly then I did. As I crossed the little footbridge to join the already chatting David and Allison, I looked at the overgrown flower gardens that ran all along the ditch and as usual I began to think about how I'd get in there and sort out those overgrown plants, trim this up a bit, and that rose bush.....then I shut down the thoughts by reminding myself of the old Cracker House and the gardens there. As I walked up, the back door opened and out came the owner of the farmhouse and we spent a few minutes discussing the landscaping and the history of the house, learning in the process that he was a grand nephew of the original builders who had come over from England cr 1905. And of course, as a genealogist, I was intriqued...this was the first house we'd seen where anyone knew the complete history. We also learned that old barn that had so excited David as we entered the driveway no longer belonged to the house (when the fields had been sold, the barn was sold with them); David's disappointment was evident and I added the first con to purchasing the house to my mental list....the second con I added was the lack of acreage...so much of the original 40 acres had been sold to the farmer across the street that not even one acre came with this house.....but, then the owner said that the farmer just might sell us an acre or two...........
The whole walk-through of the house went just like that....upon entering the back of the house, we saw unfinished flooring (a pro - we'd get to choose our own) but a too modern kitchen for the age of the house (a con)....then a lovely dining room with the beautiful staircase rising upwards to the second floor (a pro)...an enclosed side porch (a con?...maybe), a long and narrow living room and a beautiful front porch (couldn't find anything wrong with that)...upstairs, it looked like it was only a 3 bedroom house (con - we needed four), a beautiful little landing (pro) etc.....Upstairs all the floors were still original to the house, some of them refinished and some of them not, but my mental list of reasons we couldn't buy this one was still going strong...after all we needed four bedrooms and two baths and this house only had...... As we walked into what I thought was the third and final bedroom, I saw a door at the far wall and as we entered into that door, there was a fourth bedroom....cross the lack of bedrooms off the con list!
This lovely partially restored home was filled with antiques and heirlooms in shadow boxes, it smelled like an old house (love that smell) but not one that was neglected...it smelled lived in and loved. We moved downstairs and out onto the front porch where we stood and admired the view for a minute or two....only one neighbor on the whole road....about 300 acres of potato fields and cypress trees and oak trees with spanish moss flowing in the breeze; twelve pecan trees lined the exterior boundary lines of the property...I had to admit that the setting was idealic....
I latched onto the only real objection I could make to this old house....the lack of land. I excused myself from the little group as they began to discuss pricing and continingencies and walked around the side of the house into the back yard....I wrestled with the idea that I would not have the land to get a horse or two, we wouldn't even have enough land for pigs or chickens. Soon, Allison walked around to join me, leaving the men to discuss the restorations that had been done to the old house and those that remained undone......she asked my thoughts and I laid them out so she could play devil's advocate and remind me of all the reasons I should want this house...the biggest one being that most of the other farmhouses in the area were so deteriorated that we'd be litterally camping out with three children until they were made ready to live in; another big factor being that we'd be able to get a straight line mortgage with this house where other farmhouses would likely require construction loans etc. And she mentioned again that there was a possibility of buying some of the surrounding land from the farmer. She also reminded me that another agent was at that moment, driving around trying to find this house prior to letting her out of town clients know of the availability of this house...time was short, we'd have to make a decision today..!
Allison and I walked back to join the men on the front porch and I suggested that David and I go and have lunch somewhere to discuss all the pros and cons and we'd get back to Allison within two hours to let her know our decision....we got in the car and drove into town for lunch discussing it all through the long drive......Allison had done a good job of helping me get past the disappointments of the past year and David finalized the process not only by his words, but by his excitement over this house.
By the time we pulled into our driveway, we'd decided......we'd be putting in an offer and if we got the house, we'd then approach the old farmer across the street to attempt to buy an acre or two from him......we called Allison at 3 p.m. and made our verbal offer. By 6:30, our offer was accepted and we were finally in escrow....our dream was actually coming true....! Goodbye Subdivision Living and all that that intails.....David and I are dropping out!