The History of Our Future

During the course of negotiations for buying the little red house, our real estate agent, Marilyn Lusher and I went to town hall and did a bit of historical digging.  (Side note: Marilyn is a take no prisoners, real estate beast from Re/Max in Waterford, CT… I highly recommend!) The house was built in 1866 and has had only two families own the property in all that time!  We are the third; I thought that was pretty interesting.  The Gray family originally built the house along with a barn in 1866 (Maaaaaaan, I wish the barn was still there!), and was part of a 15 acre property. Educated guessing says that it was possibly a cattle farm… we think.  There is a working cattle farm just up the road and is a cool field trip for the boys. The ownership I feel over the history of our house is weird.  I look around at my neighbors and think, “at one point in time, I owned you!”. (Who let the CRAZY out?)

I found this picture of our street!! Our house is just around corner, up the road a bit. I so wish I had a historical photo of the red house... but this is pretty cool too.

I found this picture of our street!! The house is just around corner, up the road a bit. I so wish I had a historical photo of the red house… but this is pretty cool too.

The property is now just under an acre.  I also can’t help but wonder what made them sell off their land.  I mean, money can be the obvious assumption.  But money for what?  Just to have or was there a more specific reason?  Maybe to help their kids start a life?  Maybe someone was ill and the money was a necessity for treatment or care?  Maybe life on the farm got tiresome and they cashed in for an easier ride?  I could go on and on with the what if’s…its’ fascinating to me.  I did learn from a survey report done by the RI Historical Preservation Commission in 1976 that Ashaway experienced its’ first and most significant boost in population in the mid nineteenth century.  (Right around the time our house was built).  I also learned that in 1825 Captain Lester Crandall started an open air business along the river that runs through Ashaway,  making fishing line.  This location is just around the bend on our street.  The company grew over time, and became incorporated in 1883 as Ashaway Line and Twine Manufacturing Company, which exists in operation today, almost 200 years later!  Jaxon goes to an after school program at the Crandall House (the original home for Captain Lester Crandall). Josh picks up Jaxon there after work so I don’t have to make the 1 hour and 20 minute round trip twice a day! (Pheeeww!)

That sign is still on this building!

That sign is still on this building!

While from the outside, the little red house is the cutest Victorian style cottage you’ve ever seen, its’ what’s unseen that’s really desirable!  It has what every girl could ever want in a dream home!  It has mold in the basement AND the attic, termite damage, a rotted sill plate, left over knob and tube wiring, insufficient support columns, 4 layers of shingles, a sagging roof line, higher radon levels, lead paint… should I go on?  I told you it was perfect!

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Reminder 🙂

We’ve made some pretty interesting discoveries along the way of our demo work.  Some are just fascinating clues to the past and others equal dollar signs. ($$$$!)

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Josh found this ancient wallpaper under the walls in the boys bathroom on the 2nd floor. A pink bunny with a butterfly and lace stripes.

We've discovered that the walls covered in wood planks (which I loved) are covering up the original horse hair plaster walls. Josh found this ancient wallpaper under the walls in the boys bathroom on the 2nd floor. A pink bunny with a butterfly and lace stripes.

We’ve discovered that the walls covered in wood planks (which I loved) are covering up the original horse hair plaster walls.

I found this under the ceiling in the half bathroom on the 1st floor. I'm pretty sure that is lead paying up there. This space is going to be toy storage for the boys.

I found this under the ceiling in the half bathroom on the 1st floor. I’m pretty sure that is lead paint up there.

This room, Braedon's future bedroom, is where the sloping roof is. (to the right side). We've discovered after taking down the wood and the original plaster walls behind, that there is actually NO framing holding up the roof. NONE! It depends on the outside wall of the house! Awesome.

This room, Braedon’s future bedroom, is where the sloping roof is. (To the right side). After taking down the wood and the original plaster walls behind, we found that there is actually NO framing holding up the roof!!NONE!! It depends on the outside wall of the house! Awesome 😉

One afternoon when Josh was at the house working with my dad, we had a special guest stop by for a visit, John.  He and his family bought and moved into the house in 1940.  John was 3 years old.  His brother eventually took over the home from their mother and lived the rest of his life here, raising two boys.  John helped with answers to some questions and speculations.  The pink bunny wallpaper in a bathroom?  That was actually “the baby’s room” he said, which his brother eventually converted into the 2nd floor bathroom.  No one but a baby could have managed in there!  The small space was probably big enough for a crib and a dresser… the end.

un-demoed

un-demoed

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demoed

demoed

John also helped lead Josh to one of the most brilliant ideas in our plans for the house thus far.  One of those “DING” moments… even though I’m referring to the ding of adding those dollar $igns to the budget!  He told Josh that the original and only bathroom in the house, was located in the room that we were going to make into a 4th bedroom on the 1st floor.  His brother enclosed the small back porch and created a very, very, we’re talking VERY small half bath on the 1st floor.  Our initial plan was just to replace the half bath with new everything, but keep it as the one and only bathroom on the 1st floor; also making it the bathroom that Josh and I would share.  (Huh?) This is where I found the wood plank ceiling from the old back porch painted with lead!  We decided to go back to its’ roots and make the “4th bedroom” a gigantic bathroom; complete with walk in shower, separate tub, double vanity, and a secluded toilet room.  (Aaaaaaaahhh….that’s more like it!) Did I say “Cha-ching?!”

Half bath on 1st floor. A shower stall would have been where you see that washing machine.

Distant memory half bath on 1st floor. A shower stall would have been where you see that washing machine. (Go figure.)

Now this will be a HUGE storage room for the kids! A hide away for books, toys, and art supplies!!

Now this will be a HUGE storage room for the kids! A hide away for books, toys, and art supplies!!

This was the original and soon to be location for the 1st floor bathroom. It was being used as the master bedroom.

This was the original location for the 1st floor bathroom… and will be again! It was being used as the master bedroom.

Now, the biggest puzzle John helped us solve was the reason for the state in which the house was left for us to move into.  Our contract clearly stated the house and property should have been left in “broom swept condition” when we took over the keys.  Josh and Marilyn did a last minute walk trough before closing and found that the basement was still a disaster with broken furniture, decorations, books, memorabilia, and  trash; as well as large items of furniture left throughout the house. We were ticked and tried to use it as a last minute negotiating tool, to no avail.  We got a “too bad, too sad” response from the estate lawyer.  We were so aggravated about the added work and headache!  We grumbled and complained several times to each other and family about the mess.  We assumed that whomever was responsible for cleaning up the property was probably lazy or angry that they didn’t get what they wanted in terms of selling price for the home.  It took me 3 hours to clean out the basement, all hazmat suited up, looking like an alien!

After they went through a tour of the house and Josh learned a little about our home’s history while telling John about our hopes for the future, John stopped Josh to apologize.  Apologize for what you ask?  This sweet, almost 80 year old man, apologized to Josh for not being physically able to clean up the property and empty it out like he wanted to!  (Whaaaaaaaaat?!  Yes, you read that correctly). I felt like dying of embarrassment and regret swarmed my conscience.  John 7:24 crept into my brain, nestled in and hasn’t let go since. “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”.   We had no clue why the house was left the way it was.  All we had were assumptions… the wrong judgment by appearances only!

I so wish we had known! Poor, elderly John, the same little boy who at 3 moved into his childhood home, was trying his best to clean and clear out his brother’s things; clearing out his past, his history, before we could start our future.  Josh and I would have been eager to help!  Seems selfish and self indulgent to have been so pre-occupied with the history of our future, while John was dealing with the future of his history.  This is just another example of how I totally blow it on a daily basis; and how my blowing it can bring an invaluable life lesson from the Spirit!

Til’ next time… be blessed!!!

You Stud, You!

So, it has begun!  We FINALLY closed on our little red house in small town Ashaway, RI after months of back and forth with the seller, getting quotes from contractors, then  finalizing design plans with BuildPros (our chosen contractor), and delays with the bank.  Our original goal of moving into our new home sometime in July has been smashed to teeny tiny pieces!  We’re thinking November now; I hope by Thanksgiving. (Wahwaaah.) Its crazy to think we started on this whole journey of moving to our home state back in January!  If you told me then, we would STILL be living with my mom and step-dad in September, I would have laughed in your uninformed face.  Because there was no way on Earth that was going to happen! Josh and I would never allow it. (Gulp) Which, of course would then be added to the ever growing list titled ‘Things I Would Never, But Actually Did’, while developing an acquired taste to my own words.

Our one and only bathroom for 7 people!

One bathroom – 7 people! For real.

Just picture it if you can.  The small cape style house I grew up in is about 1400sq’ with 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom.  There are 7 of us here right now.  Seven. Josh and I and the baby are staying in the room I shared with my sister as a child.  The boys are sharing my brother’s old room. There is stuff everywhere!  We’ve turned the living room into a play room with a TV and try our best to keep the toys in that room.  But you know, if you have kids, their stuff has a way of creeping into every available corner.  Toys and clothing and bits of food make their way to the family room, the kitchen, the bathroom, and the dining room which also doubles as our makeshift laundry/mail room.  The only place that has managed to remain uncontaminated is my moms room.  There is a strict closed door policy and kid free space rule in affect every minute of every day.  Our shared bathroom… the one and only, is healthfully christened daily courtesy of three happy boys… well, two boys, hopefully adding number 3 to the potty brigade soon.  So, I swear, no matter how many times I clean that bathroom, I can always get a waft of little boy potty time.  (Nice way of saying it)  Gross.  I know.

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Those are packing peanuts!

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Happy toddler messes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being cramped in as we are, Josh and I are itching, begging, dying to get this renovation rolling!  We took on the demo work in the bathrooms and the garage ourselves to save some money and use it toward what we really want done to the house.  So, since closing Josh has been MIA in Ashaway at the red house, doing as much as he can in the few free hours he has after work and on weekends.  Thankfully it’s on the way to my mom’s house from his work, so he doesn’t have to go out of his way at all.  I did some of the work too.  My brother-in-law, Steve gave us a demo day of help, tearing a drop ceiling down followed by a horsehair plaster ceiling  in the new 1st floor bathroom.  My brother helped me tear out a sink, secure some electrical out of the way of my sledgehammer, and with the garage demo.  Also, my dad has pitched in with painting the front porch, doing some smash and tear on the 1st floor and moving some furniture in.

Thanks Steve!

Thanks Steve!

My brother-in-law taking down the ceiling I the soon-to-be 1st floor bathroom.

My brother-in-law tearing it down! This will be the 1st floor bathroom.

The old 1st floor bathroom, torn down to the studs. This will become a toy storage closet for the kids.

The old 1st floor bathroom, down to those good looking studs! This will be a toy room for the kids.

Parents can relate when I say, its’ impossible for Josh and I to both be there and working.  One has to work, and one has to stay with the kids.  We did attempt it once.  I had a master plan!  We would barricade the living room, throw a couple ipads in there, some snacks, a few toys, coloring books and crayons. That would keep them busy for at least an hour and then I could  help Josh put a dent in the demo that needed to be done before the contractors can do their thing.  It would work out just fine. Right?   Not a chance… but I think sometimes I just need to try it out.  Because someday, they’ll reach that magic age where it will be fine.  They will be able to keep themselves occupied and we can rationalize with them saying, “we just need one hour for you guys to hang out so we can get this done, then we’ll go and do (fill in the blank) together.”  Our oldest, Jax is there at 7 years old.  But the little ones, at 4 and 2 are not.  The baby, Braedon,  couldn’t understand why he wasn’t allowed to leave the room and cried at the barricade.  He also dumped all the snacks on the floor which was construction zone filthy, while Preston (4) picked up the mess and moved it to his mouth!  (Aaaaahhhhhh!) Then, Preston with amazing stealth, escaped the barricade and cried when we put him back, and Jax remained oblivious to it all, on the couch playing Minecraft.  So, all in all, it was a good experiment; however unproductive.

My sister helping out and taking the boys with her 2 to help me add to the "productive days".

My sister taking the boys with her 2 cuties, helping us add to the “productive days” column.

The point is, we are on our way!  Probably in over our heads (Yikes)… all to accommodate my dream of renovating and old country farm house in a sleepy little town.  So, here goes… everything!

Til’ next time…be blessed!