1902 Victorian

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

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Snapshots of History

On Monday a lot of photos I bought from eBay arrived. The title of the auction was "VINTAGE OLD 1900's HOUSE PHOTO PICTURE PHOTOGRAPH LOT." Who could resist?

The photos are even more delightful in person, and many of them have writing on the back, indicating who the people are and where and when the photo was taken. Some even say when the house was built.

Here, according to the back of the picture, is Frances Freeborn Pauley (who would later become a public school teacher and Civil Rights activist), William Elbridge Freeborn, Josephine Andrews Freeborn and William Wallace Freeborn. It's dated 1907.

Isn't that a darling house? And is that an outhouse I see?

Next is my favorite house of the lot, built in 1893, photo taken 1910:

I was all fired up to go to Decatur, Ga., or Montgomery, Ala., and track this place down. To knock on the door and gain entrance, waving this photo like a badge.

But then I saw another photo of a different house - a large Craftsman - but with the same address listed on the back. And the words: Built 1915 to replace house that burned in 1914.

I studied the two photos and realized they both have the same church to the left. This Victorian mansion burned down 91 years ago. My heart just sank as I saw it. All that beauty up in smoke, literally.

It makes me nervous about my own house's mortality. And it makes me long for photos like these of my house. Surely some exist somewhere. Two or three of the original owners' grandchildren are still living, and I have a plan to meet with them. Of course, they don't know it yet.

These photos also make me wonder if some of the other houses are still standing. And if they have owners out there hoping for a glimpse of the way their house once was. Random Internet Person, if one of these houses is yours, I will sell you the photo for what I paid for it, just to get it back home.

326 Catoma St., Montgomery, Ala.
211 Washington Ave., Montgomery, Ala.
614 S Court, Montgomery, Ala.

I looked at the Google satellite images of these addresses and saw nothing that looked like houses. More like office buildings. More like parking lots. Montgomery has a lovely historic district, but I've only been there once so I can't say. I hope the addresses are wrong or I'm reading the satellite images wrong. I hope these houses haven't all gone the way of the dinosaur.



K. said...

Kristin, can you post the craftsman replacement house? I'm fascinated that the same family would replace an amazing enormous victorian like that with what I would guess is a smaller craftsman house? It's interesting that they're tastes changed with the times. Maybe they never even wanted an elaborate victorian, but it was all that was available. Or maybe their family size had changed, kids moved out, so a smaller craftsman was in order. But even so, it would be impressive that an older couple would choose a trendy house.

Well, no one ever said I didn't have a vivid imagination! Of course, that's part of the appeal of these old houses - the stories they hold.

ps. I love the name Freeborn!

10:35 AM  
novaks8 said...

Isn't history and historic homes the most interesting thing?

It is like furniture.
I have rescued beautiful wood pieces from years of paint.
I stripped a hope chest once that was painted white and it had inlaid wood that was gorgeous!

I don't know how we ended up in a cookie cutter 1973 house! It's cute but not what I want.

11:41 AM  
Kerrie said...

I never would have thought to buy photos like that, but it's a great idea. I love old houses (as does probably everyone else who reads this blog) and the history is fascinating.


2:16 PM  
Greg said...

Cool pictures. When I was going through a photo archive at a local museum looking for old photos of my house I saw many photos of grand homes and commercial buildings that no longer exist. There would be an address and I would think, “No, wait, that’s an auto shop now.” The worst was our old city hall. A huge grand Victorian building that succumbed to an earthquake in the 50s. It was spectacular.

3:24 PM  
halloweenlover said...

That IS so sad!!! I hope those houses are still standing. It would be amazing to find and meet the owners. What a great find!

3:53 PM  
robiewankenobie said...

my mother grew up in an amazing victorian. her family owned a furniture store and they had lovely furniture. including, i'm told, tiffany lamps. it is now a very small parking lot.

5:32 PM  

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