1902 Victorian

Bringing our old house out of the disco era and back into the Victorian.

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Monday, March 14, 2005

Road Trip

We took a Sunday afternoon drive to tour the ring of small towns surrounding ours. South to Demopolis, east to Uniontown, north to Marion, west through Greensboro and back home. These towns are all known for their old houses, too, and we got an eyeful.

Of the towns, Darwin was most charmed by Demopolis, the largest of them all with such luxuries as Wal-mart, KFC and Captain D's. It has a cute little historic district and a "theater district."

Uniontown is closer to the size of Eutaw, maybe even a little smaller. We were unimpressed. It had some beautiful houses, like this one:

But it was mostly run down, and there was no sense that the town and its residents were working to preserve its historic houses. We saw so many houses falling down and only one that was truly well cared for.

I liked Marion the best. It is a little college town with a military institute and a college for women. Each of the old houses in town has a little black sign in front that states the name and date in scrolling white. The majority of the old houses there are 1830s through 1850s, most of them stark white with columns and magnolias in front.

But my favorite was a crumbling Victorian. We just about had a throw-down when I wanted to stroll around it and peek in the windows, but Darwin finally gave in and came with me.

Then I climbed in through a broken window.

This house is a real tragedy. It had a beautiful wraparound porch at one time, but now most of the spindles and columns are lying about on what's left of the porch floor and inside the house. The roof is falling in, and the entire floor of one room has been ripped out. Several of the windows - huge single panes on the bottom and multiple tiny panes on the top - are broken. Much of the woodwork is missing - including the mantels and the staircase.

But the saddest part isn't what's ruined but what is not. The floors - heart pine like ours but with a redder tint - are in beautiful shape. A cute built-in cabinet on the back porch is perfect. The two bathrooms - one tiled in '50s pink - are unspeakably dirty but otherwise OK. The parlor has push-button light switches.

It's sad because it's unlikely that anyone will ever fix this house. People might strip all the beautiful things out of it, might put the woodwork or floors or windows to good use in another house.

But this house has missed its chance to live again.



Anonymous said...

A shame, but sometimes houses do die. Riding along through the countryside as a youngster, whenever I saw a delapidated home I called it a "sad house." Recycling some of the elements of an old house, to me, is sometimes better than trying to resurrect one that's far gone. It sure beats the whole thing ending up at the landfill.

– Texas T-bone

10:35 AM  
mindy said...

Wow, neat adventure! I've always been fascinated with abandoned houses, and the way they seem so frozen in time. I remember walking through one as a teenager and seeing an old calendar on the wall, about ten years outdated. It felt as if time had just stopped (though, not the mold and rot that had gotten to it!).

1:02 PM  

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