fbpx bloglovinBloglovin iconCombined ShapeCreated with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. rssRSS iconsoundcloudSoundCloud iconFill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. SearchCreated with Lunacy Search iconCreated with Sketch.

Why I Love Old Houses

There is something special about an old house. The incredible craftsmanship, the quality materials, but most precious is the history and story they tell. It’s easy to get caught up in the nuts and bolts of how to cope a joint properly, or cleanly refinish wood floors, but sometimes I need to remember why I do what I do. So, I thought I’d share with you why it is that I love old houses.

When I was a kid, my parents lived in an old Colonial house built in 1759 in the Catskill Mountains of New York state. The house was incredible for a kid! There were secret hiding spots everywhere- from the stone cistern in the basement to the hidden attic door in my closet. I loved to learn about the home’s past from my father as he slowly unearthed its secrets. The small town we lived in was apparently incorporated at a meeting in our house that George Washington himself attended. The property line was marked by a centuries old sturdy dry-stacked stone wall. All fun stories and bits of history. But, the stories that I discovered myself were the most intriguing.

One time while I was mowing the lawn, I noticed a flagstone peeking out from the grass. I was curious as to what it was doing there, so I cleared away the grass to find it was rather large. I proceeded to poke around the area and see what else I could find. I soon came across another flagstone laid in line with this one just a couple of feet away. I continue my excavations, and after awhile, I had uncovered a flagstone path that started from the back of the house and led out about 75 feet before my mom made me stop. I never did find out where that path led, and sometimes I still wonder about it today. Where did it go? Who put it there? When? How long had it been buried? I was like an explorer uncovering uncharted territory and it was exciting. I wanted to know! I still do.

The Story of an Old House

Old houses tell a story. They have a history. There is something about running your hand down a banister that generations of people have held in their hands for centuries. It gives you a sense of place and time and a perspective on where you fit in this huge, sometimes impersonal world. You are a part, a small part, but an important part of a much greater story. My parent’s house has stood there, unchanged (mostly) and unmoved while the world has changed around it. From colonial struggles of a home on the frontier, to a small and burgeoning nation. People living in that house lived through the struggles of the War of 1812 when our nation’s capital was burned. They suffered through the Civil War. They watched as horses and buggies turned to cars and trucks. The world grew up and the inhabitants of that house watched it all through the wavy glass of its old windows.

A history book contains pictures and stories of what life was like in years gone by, but those stories are locked within the boundaries of the binding. A museum displays actual artifacts from these times, but they are roped off and safely behind glass. But, walking into a historic house is like stepping back in time and being wrapped up in the pages of that history book- being a part of the history. We are tactile beings, and the ability to touch pieces of history and interact with them is the most profound way to connect to the time and place they came from.

The house I currently live in was built in 1929. The permit was pulled in June of 1929, and it was finished in early 1930. Not nearly as old as the house I grew up in, but I can’t help but wonder what was going on in the lives of its original occupants as it was being built. The Florida Land Boom and stock market were almost at their peak before crashing down to begin the Great Depression in October of 1929 (just as they were finishing their house). Perhaps that is why our house is an interesting combination of high end designs in some places and simple detailing in others. Was money tight as construction finished? I don’t know, but I know it’s unique. Just like each and every historic house it is uniquely crafted to its original occupants. And as long as it stands, it is a testament to what they endured during those years and a testament to their hopes for the future.

My childhood 1759 Colonial home

Each historic home I work on has its own story, and though I may make my living as a carpenter or tile layer or glazier, I am really just a reader of homes. Stepping into each old house is like opening a new book. And as I read, I learn more and more until I feel comfortable enough writing my own chapter. Leaving my mark along with the artists and craftsman of the past whose work I respect so greatly, hoping that my own meager contribution will be of a quality they deem worthy of inclusion in their book, from so long ago.

What is your story of how you came to love old houses?


Subscribe Now For Your FREE eBook!

12 thoughts on “Why I Love Old Houses

  1. wooow everything beautifully said. went to Metro Manila lately and saw old houses stuck amidst the ever growing city. i felt they are all calling out to me; but i cant underatand why….i looove looking at them and very curious about the lives of the dwellers some 100 years ago. i cant put to words and i am very happy to have read soneone who feels the same about old homes.

  2. After just a year of ownership my now 97 year old craftsman is such a treasure to me. After removing the 1959s remodeling I have found windows and even doorways his behind cheap paneling. Almost as if the stuff was placed out of sight for someone to come along and bring it all back. It’s been a project that is sometimes aggravating but never unrewarding. To think of all the home has been thru since 1919 is just amazing. Even the history of its occupants. In doing some cencus research I discovered that a well known photographer grew up in my home which was built by his parents when he was seven. Harry M Callahan grew up in my home and grew to become a very noteworthy photographer. But, one would never know if they didn’t look for such things. Knowing the history and putting your own sweat and blood into a house really makes it into a home. Something that seems to be appreciated by many but understood by few.

  3. THANKS for sharing Scott! My SOUL is hurting as I walk threw the Historically rich local cities on the North Shores of Ma. The destruction of these incredible homes has sickened me! Who is allowing this to continue? STOP DE-VALUING THESE HOMES with REPLACEMENT/New Construction WINDOWS!!! The Federal Gov. sued 7 major window companies with DECEPTIVE practices just last year for multi-millions of $$ These windows have lasted over 150-200 years for a reason!! Todays windows have an average life of 15 years!! YOU ARE De-Valuing these buildings! With TOXIC windows that DO NOT LAST! PLEASE just look at there FOOTPRINT the SUSTAINABILITIE of both!

    1. There are several like-minded folks in Tampa we work with from time to time, and depending on the scope of the project we do work in the Tampa area occasionally.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.