about the house.
Luke and I bought this house in the summer of 2007, after several discouraging months of searching, and two offers on houses that we (mercifully) didn’t get. It was built in 1905 in a town in southern Colorado that you’ve probably never heard of. The town has lots of great old trees, and stone houses, and little pockets of niceness that might be considered “character.” The town hasn’t been discovered (yet), so it is not easy to buy an overpriced latte here, nor is it easy to outfit yourself for a specialized outdoor activity. The town hasn’t been equipped to allow you to spend your tourist dollar lavishly. It is, however, easy to invest in a new tractor (the kind you farm with– not the type that you mow a lawn with), or purchase a hundred varieties of fertilizer.
The outskirts of town are not terribly picturesque (sometimes verging on seedy)– in accordance with the fact that this place hasn’t seen a lot of economic prosperity over the years. The economy is mostly based on farming, the lifestyle is based mostly on tolerating the weather, and the surrounding landscape is mostly based on breath-taking 14,000 foot mountains.
We bought the house for only two reasons:
Reason #1- We could afford it. A local bank gave us a loan, despite the fact that we were in the throes of starting our own business, and had no measurable income. Maybe they gave us the loan out of pity, or because they wanted to experiment with 3-digit numbers, or because we had good credit. Anyway, it was a small loan, and we figured that if our business didn’t take off, we could always get a paper route or something to pay the mortgage.
Reason #2- The roof line didn’t make me want to gag. Lots of other things about the house made me want to gag: the 1970s paneling, the moldy greenhouse, the dead cats being slowly mummified under the floor. (Though in all fairness, we didn’t know about our little kitty crypt beneath the floor joists until months after we’d purchased the place.) But the house itself– at least the bones of the house– had a nice, quiet dignity about it. No silly hipped roofs, no illogical floor plans, no vinyl siding. The house hadn’t been treated with dignity, but its original builders had managed to embody its structure with a reasonable amount of respectability.
The house hadn’t been lived in for about 8 years before we bought it, and it hadn’t been properly cared for in decades. And this is not one of those magnificent old gems that just needs a little paint stripped away in order to reveal its former glory. No, no– this house was like the lame, half-blind stray mutt that follows you home and is slowly rejuvenated through a steady diet of steak and naps on the couch. I guess I’ve always been the sort of person who looks longingly at stray buildings and wishes she could adopt them. I’ve never had the opportunity to adopt a building before– but we adopted this one because it seemed like it could become a nice canvas for a clean, contemporary, green rehabilitation.
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Tags: back story, original condition, planning, renovation