photo of the day

window_apples

I’ve always had a fascination with old houses. I’ve lived in my fair share of them. Over the course of my life I’ve had periods of re-occurring dreams of finding myself inside old houses. In my dreams, the houses are large and while empty of human inhabitants, they are filled with furniture and possessions. It is as if their occupants have simply stepped away for the afternoon. The houses I visit in my dreams have many rooms and many secrets to be discovered. When I’m in them, I’m never afraid. When I wake up, I’m disappointed I didn’t get more time to explore.

When I was young, I spent a few summers as a counselor-in-training at a local institution for handicapped children. The building it occupied was located at the farthest point of town and sat directly on Jamaica Bay.

The house was originally known as the Heinsheimer Mansion. In it’s day, it was magnificent. You can read more about the property in this NY Times article from back in 1996. Unfortunately, the mansion was knocked to the ground in 1987 when the land was turned into a park. It was a magnificent building filled with lots of undiscovered stories. When I was there, I wanted to be able to explore it, but as summer staff, we had limited access. By then it was it pretty bad shape. I’ve had dreams of wandering through it in it’s better days.

Years later, when I decided that I wasn’t ready for college just yet and needed to “find myself,” I lived for awhile in a large, yellow Victorian house on a street of large Victorian houses in Buffalo, NY. I googled the house yesterday and from the outside, it looks just the same. (Isn’t the internet amazing? When I realized I remembered the address, I used their satellite and street view function and there I was, standing in front of the house I had lived in back in 1975. It’s still yellow, by the way.)

The house was a beautiful. When I lived there it still had it’s original oak paneling throughout and huge oak pocket doors in the parlor and dining room. It also retained much of it’s original brass hardware and chandeliers. It was a three story home and while the second floor boasted  large bedrooms, two with their own porches and one smaller one that must have been a nursery, the third floor had 2 small bedrooms that were very plain and unadorned. Ah, the servants quarters! To get to the third floor you had to take a  back staircase from the kitchen; the large one in the front with the oak bannister only went up to the second floor.

One of my favorite features of the house was a tube that stretched from the kitchen to the third floor. It was used to call the servants to come downstairs. The tube was old and clogged with years of dirt. Someone had upgraded the system to a buzzer at one point in time, but it still fascinated me that it was there.

Once, when hubby and I were looking to buy our first house, I went to see an older home in our neighborhood. The elderly owner had recently passed away and the house was being sold by her estate. I met my realtor there and we walked in to find that the place had not been emptied of it’s previous occupant’s belongings. There were grocery lists pinned to a bulletin board in the kitchen and things left on counters in such a way that made it look eerily like someone had just stepped out to run a few errands but would be returning home soon.

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The facility we use for our homeschool coop is an antique farmhouse. It looks as if someone lived there in the 50s and it hasn’t been re-decorated since. It’s filled with old knick-knacks, lace curtains and wax fruit. The walls are paneled with dark wood and there are many fireplaces. The floors are old and uneven. When the sun comes in the many windows, the color of the wood paneling warms the place and it is very cozy. When we have coop there and it is filled with children’s voices, it feels a lot like home.

I live in a new house now, but I know my dreams will always be filled with old ones.

~ by photobella on 25 February, 2009.

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