Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Gift of an Old Girl

What do you think? 

Scary Halloween House?
Vacant ex-crime scene?
Unloved and unwanted?

Actually, none of those things. This is Appleside Cottage as we found her in the Fall of 2009 on's Master Listing Service. She was only a few miles away from Winterrest Farm, in a neighboring village.

Of course, back then she wasn't Appleside Cottage. She was the home of generations of one family, passed down since she first changed hands in 1887. The latest member of that family was aging; had used her as a vacation home for decades, and was now ready to part ways. 

The house was so inexpensive, we didn't take it seriously for several weeks. There must be something wrong with it. Finally, in a moment of acute boredom, I picked up the phone and called the listing agent. I found that there was nothing wrong with the Old Girl, but the owner was elderly, lived in another state, wasn't planning on traveling back any more, and wanted to be rid of the cost of maintaining it. I asked for more pictures and was stunned at what I saw.

Unfolding on the screen before me was a Victorian house in more or less original condition. Even the hinges were original to the home. The foundation and basement was stacked stone in pristine shape. The ridgeline of the roof was straight, with no sign of racking or sagging. The wallpaper choices on the interior were eyebrow raising. The master bedroom was covered with a pattern that could only be called  Vintage Sonny and Cher, while the downstairs rooms had paper that might bore the dead to tears. 

Jeff decided to make a side trip to see the house when he went north to attend a wedding. He called me mid-trip:

     "Hey", he said breathlessly. "I like this house. It's cute."
     "Cute shmoot," I replied, "How does it smell? Do you see any signs of mold? How about the windows? Are they in decent shape? What about the plumbing? Does it look like it's reasonably solid? Did you poke the woodwork? Any punky boards?"
     "You know, I don't see any real problems with the place." He said. "At least nothing I can find. If we make an offer on this house, we can make it contingent to the inspector's report."

The inspector told me several days later, after we had made an offer and it had been accepted, that the Old Girl was one of the nicest homes he'd seen in a while. It had the odd chip here and crack there, but it was in good, solid shape and he was happy to turn in a positive assesment.

We drove north in February 2010 to spend the first weekend in Appleside Cottage. It was snowing and we had no furniture. But the oil-fired furnace was churning away in the basement and the electricity had the empty rooms glowing in the cold-dark first night. We picked up burgers and fries from River's Edge Cafe and picnicked on the floor of the living room. We loved the Old Girl. For the price of a mid-range Japanese car, we had a home to stage the building of our farm from. She might need a little lipstick and some new clothes, but she was ours and frankly, we needed her as much as she needed us!

Appleside Cottage, Memorial Day, 2010


  1. If I had to choose from the 3, I would go with Halloween old as she is she's bound to be harboring some ghosts with some great stories!! When are you going to post some updated interior pictures?

  2. LOL! Good ghosts!
    We're going up over Memorial Day, I'll get some then, they'll be sort of "bridge pictures" before we really get some changes made! Stay tuned!:-)