Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday Home Tour

My mom's birthday is this coming weekend, but we treated her a week early by buying her a ticket to the Holiday Homes Tour sponsored by the local preservation society.  So last Sunday afternoon she, Cecilia and I spent several hours driving through the countryside to tour various houses.  I was most eager to see the two 1830s Greek Revival homes included in the tour.

I had my camera along, but did not take any pictures of the homes' interiors.  There were two reasons for this - first, I didn't want to take advantage of the homeowners' generosity; and second, every house was packed with people.  Any interior picture I took would have revealed more about current trends in winter appearal than it would have about the architecture of the homes in which the pictures were taken. 

But I did take a few exterior pictures.  : )

The picture below is a bit bittersweet for me.

That is very similar to the side porch that our house used to/should have.  Granted, our side porch was smaller and a bit less ornate.  Our porch had only one window with the door (although my picture cuts it off, the house porch pictured above had two windows with a centered door) and our porch had only two pillars (compared to four), but still the idea and the feel is exactly what I hope we can someday bring back to our house.

This is what we've got now:

But in my mind... 

I'll start by taking out the paneled wall with the window.  Put two simple square pillars flush against the stone walls to the left and the right.  Give the pillars some simple molding on the very top and bottom.  I might even add some decorative wood trim like pictured above, but it's nothing too intricate or ornate, this isn't the Victorian era yet.  The porch is, say, five or so feet deep.  Its back wall consists of a door (into the dining room) to the left and a window to the right.  Now - I'll put a divided pane window back into that shuttered hole in the small stone wall.  Add appropriately-sized louvered wood shutters.  (Yes - they have to be wood shutters.)  With shutter dogs.  (I love shutter dogs!)  Now, I'll settle into a rocking chair on my lovely porch.  There's a terra cotta pot on the top step in front of me with some red flowers in it - geraniums, maybe, or begonias.  My handsome husband steps out from the dining room, joining me with a glass of cool lemonade to sip while we enjoy the view.  (It's almost always mid-June in my imagination.)  The kids are laughing while playing on their swingset to our right while to our left a barn cat or two - or five - lounge on the stone walls in front of the springhouse.  Our whole view is framed by the tree lined creek, which can very faintly be heard gurgling in the background....

It's going to happen someday.  Might take 30 years, I'll admit.  But it'll happen.  Even if it's my grandkids playing on the swingset.

(Which reminds me of one of the guests at our open house last October.  While looking at some pictures of the house taken just after we bought it she looked up at me and said, "Wow.  You must have had some, uh, imagination when you bought this place."  If she only knew!)

But - back to the present.  And the home tour.  The second 1830's home on the tour was my favorite.  I've driven by it (perhaps a bit too slowly I admit) multiple times to admire it.  After seeing the interior and hearing the home's history my admiration is even greater.  Vandals started a fire in the house in the mid 1950's and it sat vacant and boarded up for over 30 years.  The current owners began their renovation in 1989 and have done a remarkable job. 

They reconstructed that front porch from original pieces fished out of a gulley alongside the house. 
Here's a side profile of the house:

One of my favorite features is this picket fence along the west side of the (new) garage:

I want to do something similar in front of our kitchen - a picket fence surrounding the area in front of our home's frame wing, with the sidewalk down the middle dividing the area into a small herb garden to the right and a small vegetable garden to the left.  (And I hope to turn this daydream into reality well before 2040.)

But as cute as the picket fence and little front porch on the yellow Greek Revival are, neither is the home's focal point.  The house's most stunning feature can not be seen when driving by.  You've got to get behind the front door to see this:

I really didn't take any interior pictures during the tour - this one came from the local newspaper.  But that staircase was just too stunning not to share. 

All in all it was a lovely afternoon, and I'm grateful to the homeowners who were willing to open their homes for the tour.  It's such a joy to see old homes celebrated as old homes and not remodeled to within an inch of their lives.  Perhaps someday, quite a while from now, we'll have the Einsel House polished up enough (and stuffed with enough antique furniture) that we can return the favor open our own front door for a holiday homes tour. 


  1. That stairway is like something out of Max Escher. If I were a kid with a sibling in that house, we'd constantly be running races on each side of that stairway to see who could get to the top or bottom first.

    (Oh, yes. I like your dream for restoring your porch.)

  2. only one question... where would mthe necessary room go? Aunt J

  3. I've got it all planned out. :)

    The half of the current bathroom that would remain would become a small 1st floor laundry room. And the area in front of the southern half of the kitchen addition (planned by the previous owners to become a mud room) would become a new full bath.