A Not Quite Restoration
For two decades, whenever I visited the city, I would always drive by to see The House.
I loved the house.
It was brick, 1880s, and with an extraordinary turret rich with leaded-glass curved windows.
Also of note was its condition. Which was terrible. The porch was decaying, paint peeled on every surface, and the roof in back was wholly open to the elements. Yet, the house appeared to be occupied.
Every year I would pull up in front of the house, step out of the car, and stand before this forlorn beauty, expecting, hoping for a glorious resurrection. But every year I would be disappointed. Oddly, while the house never improved, it never looked worse. It simply seemed suspended in a particular moment of decay.
In the fall of 2017 I again made my pilgrimage to the sad house.
And was astonished.
My dream was coming true! The house was alive with workers and a huge dumpster sat in front. Oh! Oh!
I also grew worried. Had the house been purchased by preservation-minded people? Or people influenced by HGTV? I shuddered.
I had imagined that the house was intact inside no matter how decayed.
But this later proved…hopeful.
The interior had been brutalized and had been slum-like multi-family housing for many decades. Was this when all the mantels save one vanished? In the early 1980s, the house was returned to single-family occupancy. Was this when a lot of the interior plaster was stripped from the brick walls?
By 2017, very little of the original interior remained. The glorious staircase was intact, as was, inexplicably, most of the dining room with its paneled walls, built-in sideboard, and beautiful plasterwork on the frieze and ceiling.
Would, I wondered breathlessly as the months passed, the house be gloriously restored?
Well, at least the house has been saved even though more of its historic fabric was discarded in the process. Sigh.
I have deliberately left out what city the house is in, or any link to a Facebook page or similar. If you know the house, please do not comment on its location.
In the end all I can think is: My God, what might have been.
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