Saturday, July 30, 2011

Old Houses

I have a complex relationship with old houses. And by old houses I mean those that were built 300 to 100 years ago that are commonly found here in New England. I grew up in old houses and have many time said I would never want to live in one again. They are dusty, which means that I have trouble breathing in old houses. They are often very drafty which means I’m constantly cold (or pay a lot to heat them) and they are constantly in need of repair, which I generally don’t feel like doing. But I LOVE old houses! I love looking at them as we drive past and guessing how old they are, and when the additions or changes were made, I love staying in hotels that were old houses.

I especially love working in them. My current office is in the upstairs room of a big farmhouse built right around 1800. The walls are plaster and wood paneling, the windows let in a ton of light, even if they rattle in a strong wind. All the placement of rooms and halls make sense to me. It feels comforting and happy in a way that the cinderblock office buildings I’ve worked in never could.

When at the herb workshops at Plimoth Plantation a couple weeks ago I got to spend quite a bit of time in Plomoth's Horticulture Building, which is where I used to work. It was originally built a hundred years ago as a carriage house. It had a big room for the carriages, and a smaller room for stalls, there were more stalls in the basement as well as a second floor that was half hayloft half caretaker’s lodgings. I love the feel of the building, working and relaxing in it; washing in the soapstone sink, potting plants in the glass-and-wood greenhouse that was attached to the carriage house. Yes, they are dusty and drafty, but somehow I don’t mind as much during the work day.

I hope in my future there are many more workplaces in lovely old structures. They make me happy.


  1. The original portion of our house shows up on village maps around 1863. After that another 3 additions were constructed and our home became the boarding house for the school teachers of our little village by 1910.

    Although much of the lathe and plaster was removed by my father in the 1980's the outside of the house is classic New England ACW architecture and still has the original 1860's glass in the windows, waves, ripples, and all.

  2. I look forward to someday owning an old house. I love doing repairs and helped redo my parents 1940s house room by room, by hand, when I was a kid. I learned how to lay tile, put up sheetrock, install insulation, build walls, and all sorts of other useful skills that I feel should be put to use again some day.