On my way to take my children to school every morning and picking them up in the evening I drive past the cleanup effort around the old house. Every day there are people and heavy duty equipment working hard to uncover the gem that is hidden in the woods. It is a sight to behold! As the sun is rising on a new day, the unveiling of what lies beneath all mother nature has kept protected is a slow and tedious process. Great care is taken to not clear away any more than is needed. There are some small out buildings that are falling down and on my second trip past that day they had already been torn down and cleared away.
How fortunate for me that I know someone that works for the man that purchased the property. Apparently this is not the first time he has taken on such a labor of love, restoring an old house. About 8 years ago he bought a 1914 prairie style brick mansion that was much like this house, old, dilapidated, neglected and hidden from the world due to overwhelming growth of the weeds, trees and wild shrubbery. I never knew that house was there either and it was huge! It took him two years, and he was hands on every day along with a crew of employees, lovingly restoring every nook and cranny. This home is now a bed and breakfast and is well known for the extravagant weddings that are held there year round. If he can do that … I can’t wait to see what he will do to this old farm house. I asked my friend if she thought he would mind if I went by now and then to see what he has done. She said she would let me know when he was out of town and they were taking a break while he was gone so I could go up there and see all the amazing progress.
A couple of days went by and she called me. The owner was out of town for a few days and if I wanted to see the house now was the time. It was a mess and when he returned the next item on the agenda was to get it all cleaned out and see what he had to work with.
On my first trip I only had time to explore the outside of the house. The foundation looked to be in great shape. The front steps had seen better days. I could tell this man had a deep respect for all things old and the intent to maintain the integrity of the original construction, as evidenced by a pallet to the left of the steps. As they were being cleared away the intact bricks were being stacked carefully so they can be used when it was time for reconstruction. I would have cleared all of it away and tried to match the brick later.
No… that isn’t how it is done.
It was then I had the first of many epiphanies. In order to restore you have to stick to the original plan as much as possible. I am already learning something … save what you can because the original is always better than a reproduction.