I swear, I’m not a materialistic person. If it came down to saving a box filled with my most nostalgic items and heirlooms vs. saving a random stranger on the street, it would be the human being every time. Well, unless that human being was Hitler. In that case, I’d probably lunge from my grandmother’s wedding photos while giving ol’ Adolf the finger. But despite this, I still feel incredibly sad when I see a home that has been allowed to fall apart and become a ghost of itself, especially when you can plainly see the character that home once had. That’s why I think Save This Old House is just about the saddest thing on the Internet.
It’s been a feature in the back pages of This Old House Magazine for years, but Save This Old House only recently got my full attention when it listed a grand old Queen Anne Mississippi home online recently. Maybe it’s because I had recently been home shopping and saw a lot of charmless houses on the market for nearly a half million dollars – but this sweet old girl, listed for a pathetic $95k, just called to me like a runt in a dog pound.
Designed to look like a steamboat, this home in Greenwood, Mississippi was built in 1905, features solid-oak millwork and beveled-glass doors and is whopping 5200 square feet in size. Oh, the potential! As a Canadian who just put down a chunk of change on a new place, I’m in zero position to make a bid on this home, but perhaps a nice southerner (or wannabe southerner) who is willing to invest $100k – $200k in renovations (or more. I know, no small matter!) might be as charmed by this property as I am. Think of summers there! Of Christmases! Of reenacting scenes from Steel Magnolias or Fried Green Tomatoes!
But even if you can’t go and buy this old belle, let it at least inspire you to take better care of your own home. Your house has sheltered you and your family for years, maybe decades. It deserves better than to be allowed to slowly crumble. And like they say, a stitch in time saves nine, so:
- Keep your skills honed through free DIY classes like those offered at Home Depot
- Put a little bit of money away each month into your “home” fund should an issue arise
- Ensure your home insurance covers more than the basics and enough for you to rebuild your home should a disaster occur
- Stay on top of tool deals by subscribing to us and watching for our Tool News Nirvana features
- Get a home inspection and follow-up specialized inspections to detect (and fix) issues before they become obvious problems.
- Above all, don’t ignore your observations about your home. If you’re not sure about something you’ve spotted, ask a professional to provide an inspection and estimate. You can find reputable providers through a service like Angie’s List.. Quotes are usually free or available for a nominal price – and you get a professional’s opinion and observations with it.
4 thoughts on “Saddest Thing on the Web – Save This Old House”
It always breaks my heart to see this. Yes, new modern more efficient houses are nice, but they *have no history*. They don’t speak to the lives of people who lived there, what they did, what their hopes & dreams were. If you can find it, look for an out-of-print book titled “Ghosts Along the Mississippi”–a book of photographs published in the 30’s or 40’s (dont’ hold me to those dates) of Louisiana plantation homes, many of which even then had fallen down from neglect or fire. They were beautiful and now are lost. Fortunately, some of them have survived so that those of us today are able to appreciate them.
I am probably even less sentimental than you… especially when it comes to homes. As a professional remodeler I have restored many old homes from similarly poor conditions; but only because I am good at it and I get paid well to do it. Other than that, I don’t carry emotion for structures – we can always make more if we really want to. For that matter we can make better homes, more efficient homes, higher quality homes, better designed homes that don’t force us to live with outdated spaces and disfunctional design quirks. We can still build homes with character – you just got to be willing to pay for it. Better yet, we can build a home to suit you instead of reconditioning a house that was build for a Victorian era lifestyle (using Colonial era technology) then added to, modified, and re-imagined by seventeen homeowners since.
It boggles me that there are so many old house advocate out there pushing preservation on the rest of us. A house is just an object… an organized pile of materials. Sure, someone designed it and someone else crafted it but does it need to remain forever as a memorial to them all? I am reminded of a warning against keeping false idols. Possibly that thought is made more weighted when you consider that most of the nicer old houses that preservationist want to keep were ones that were originally commissioned by corporate tycoons to flaunt to the world how wealthy they really were – often because of their ruthless business tactics, backroom government dealings, and the deplorable treatment of their workers. Is that really what you want to save? We didn’t save Hitler’s home – should we have? Should we go ahead and protect Bill Gate’s home now before it’s too late? Trump’s estate? What about Bernie Madoff’s home?
The truth is that preservationists are drawn into the vanity of wealth and luxury but they cover that lust up with excuses of historical significance. That’s fine – to each his own. I have made plenty of money fulfilling the vanities of many homeowners. But where I take offense is when the renovations of these mansions are subsidized by government monies. I say if you want to refurbish an old slave owner’s mansion back to it’s confederate glory then you go right ahead and do it – just don’t force me and the rest of americans (many of whom’s ancestry already paid for it once) to pay for the fulfillment of your vanity.
But hey, wadda-I-know?
As a Canadian looking to put a chunk of money down on something very much LIKE this… it does give me pause. Mississippi may be outside our range, but there are places worth saving in – Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick – where we are focusing our particular searches. My only sigh is that I cannot save them all.
Oh and Jim Caruk’s BIY workshops are well worth their price
http://www.biyworkshops.com/workshops We’re planning on attending a week long boot camp as soon as we’ve got a few things in order here.
That’s a shame. Living in cookie-cutter, cubby-hole style townhouses for well over 1/2 a MIL here in Southern California makes me that much more appreciative of both the architectural character of these old houses as well as the craftsmanship that went into building it. Hope someone saves it. Sadly, they really don’t build them like they used to anymore.