I am not sure when my interest in old homes began. Was I born with it? My hometown in SC, where I lived until I was about six, has many beautiful old homes that still cause me to catch my breath. Did I develop it from the times I played in some of those old homes? Did it happen like a habit, repetitive exposure to historic homes? Living in Savannah, Ga. at one time in my childhood probably contributed to this interest of mine. Having lived in a historic city in Florida for the rest of my years thus far generated some additional exposure as well. Is that the reason I enjoy old homes so much?
For as long as I can remember, my grandparents loved to take that Sunday drive ( it did not always have to be on a Sunday.). We would often "go to ride" and look at houses and yards and who knows what else. My grandparents built their home in the 1930's and was for the most part a more modernized home for the many years I enjoyed it. In your sock feet you could get a running start in the kitchen and then slide down the hall. The black and white patterned tile in the bathroom could mesmerize a sleepy child. The long kitchen sink was a place I knew well, standing by my grandmother (on a chair when I was a little girl ) and drying dishes as she washed them. Just across the back yard, I could go play at the Hoover home when their grandchildren visited. Their house boasted a large stairwell in the center hall, a grande hall for sure. Lots of bedrooms upstairs (at least it seemed that way) were the perfect spots for hide and seek. Most of all, Mrs. Hoover had a big trunk filled with "old clothes" that we could dress up in. As I think back on those tossed over clothes I realize they would make a vintage and historic clothes hound's heart stop! Next door was the Kirkley home. Mr. Kirkley owned the 5 & 10 ( I promise I am not THAT OLD but that is what they called it.) and Mrs. Kirkley was as southern as they come. They had "help" so my grandmother would say. When their granddaughters came to visit we enjoyed a few tea parties and "sampled" in the kitchen whatever Margaret was making! Spending time in those homes, and a few others in town, gave me an early experience of the warmth and beauty those old walls created in the sense of home and memories.
It stands to reason that a few pictures on the walls in my den are of homes in Colonial Williamsburg that caught my eye when visiting. I asked if, since I was related, could I overnight in the George Wythe house. The odd look I received lead me to believe that was not an option. Everywhere I have lived as I grew up has had a historic district that included some lovely homes. I can't avoid it on vacation either: there is nothing more lovely than viewing the houses on St. Charles in New Orleans, taking a walking tour in Madison, Georgia, or even including a trip to a sugar cane plantation on a Caribbean island. Old homes not only speak to me, they call me by name!
Olivia hears them too. We often play a game when visiting an area with these old homes. We call out "that's my house" as we pass one we love. This is often said many times during one of our "drive-bys". We marvel at the different style periods, the colors people use, the front doors, the porches. Oh, the porches!
For us southern gals, it must have a porch. Not just a little porch, but one that stretches the width of the house. If it wraps around, all the better. Room for a swing, some ferns, some wicker chairs perhaps or wooden rockers. Room enough to roller skate on rainy days. High enough to jump off of with dignity. Space for a jogglin board.....if you could find someone to make you one! Steps out front to sit on and sip lemonade, eat a popsicle, or just watch the world go by. Yes, it must have a porch.
So am I just a gal with an addiction? Is my love for old architecture a genetic disorder or result of over exposure? Did the experience of creating marvelous memories in the houses on Market Street create a love affair for the past to be prevalent in my present? I'm not really sure. I don't believe in reincarnation, but if I did, I would believe I lived in a grand old southern home! You know it had a porch. ~ Beth