I've got to start this with one of those typical late-night TV warnings - This post contains material that may be disturbing to some old house lovers. Reader discretion is advised.
There, consider yourself warned.
So we made an offer on Old Winchester. And we waited to hear back from the bank. And we waited. And we waited.
And we waited.
While we waited I finally gave in and visited the library to do some research on Old Win. And I found the following:
And I was over-the-top. In shock. Somehow, I drove the van from the library back to the babysitters to pick up the kids. I scared Miss Nicole a bit, because she took one look at me and said, "Are you okay?!? I mean, you're shaking!" I just held out the picture and stammered, "Isn't it beautiful? Just...... beautiful......"
And we could bring it back. I knew it. The shutters, the porches, that adorable boxed out window, the fish-scale shingles and the leaded glass attic windows.
I had paint colors selected, fabric samples collected in a binder. I spent hours tinkering with Old Win's floor plan, trying to find the best way to make the layout work for our family. The plans below show both Old Winchester's original layout and how we planned to change it. In the first floor, we planned to remove the current bathroom and relocate it and a laundry room in the original kitchen, moving the kitchen to the adjoining room. The biggest change upstairs would be the conversion of a closet into a bathroom.
And meanwhile we waited. In the end, there was more drama involved with the bank than I care to type out here, but (nearly two months after our initial offer) we learned that the bank had sold the house to another buyer (for an amount $5,000 less than our initial offer). We still had a standing offer on the house at the time it was sold.
My only question for the listing agent was, "Are they going to tear the house down?". She assured me that the buyers were going to fix the house up and live in it. And that was enough for me. Were we disappointed - of course. Very much so. But we still had not sold our current home, so at least financially, losing Old Winchester was actually a relief. I was primarily concerned about Old Winchester herself, but I told myself that anyone willing to buy a house in Old Win's condition must surely see the same potential that we saw.
So I watched the county auditor's website, and about a month later the property transfer was recorded. But if I was looking for reassurance it wasn't forthcoming. A search of the new owners' names brought up multiple properties in a nearby town. None of those properties was valued at over $50,000. Several had delinquent property taxes. One was in foreclosure. And with a sickening realization I knew - Old Win was going to continue her life as a cheap rental property.
I should have left it go at that, but I didn't. It wasn't like Old Winchester was in a location that we drove by often. But 10 days after the closing was recorded I went out of my way to drive by Old Win and check out the new owner's progress. There was definately a visible change.
I pulled in the drive, sat there in the van and cried. They had owned the place for ten days. This is a small town county and of course I asked questions. I was told that the fire marshal investigated, but could not prove arson. Old Win's owners collected their well earned insurance money and then, since her role was done, they let Old Winchester sit. More than 6 months later they milked another $8,000 out of Old Win by selling her burned out shell to the neighboring farmer who cut down all the trees, finished pulling the house down, and plowed the entire property under as farmland.