You just inherited a dilapidated, crumbling-down grand mansion in the countryside. Assuming money is no issue, what do you do with it?
This prompt hits a little too close to home, but I’ll give it a go.
My Great-Grandfather, Henry (Gold King) was born in 1861, I think. He married three times. With his first wife, Louise, he had two kids, one of which died. His second wife, Emma, he married in 1905 and they had two kids, my Grandpa Alfred in 1907 and Great Aunt Alice in 1908 or 1909. Unfortunately, Emma died from consumption when Alice was still a baby . I never knew this until a few years ago, but consumption is actually tuberculosis.
Great-Grandpa, I think shortly before marrying Emma or right about the same time, built a nice farm house on his land.
After Emma died, he married again, Louisa, had two kids, one of which died, and Louisa outlived him. For many years, they lived in the big farm house.
But, when my Grandma and Grandpa got married, Henry let his son live in the house, and built another smaller house out at the farm. This smaller house fell into disrepair after he died and his wife eventually moved in with her daughter. She had the chance to let others live there or fix up the roof, but didn’t. As a result, this smaller house was already dangerous for us kids to play around in in the 60’s and 70’s, and we were told never to go in there.
The big farm house, however, was where my Mom grew up, and was the house I remember my Grandparents living in for 40 years. A few years after Grandpa died in 1977, Grandma moved into town. No one lived in the farm house except my brother for a couple years. It just sat there empty.
My dad and his brother farmed the ground till the end of 1999, when a local farmer took over sharecropping for them. The land is still in the family, and the house, by some miracle still stands. But, it has been a source of angst for us all.
My mom still maintained sheep out at the farm and had to go out twice a day to feed them and check on them. I never really knew this until after she died, but she really wanted to fix up that house and live in it after Grandma moved to town.
So, through the years, people broke in, stole things, vandalized the built in frosted glass china cabinet by smashing all the glass, taking anything they could find including my mom’s wedding dress (don’t worry, she got it back). No one could move the firesafe, however, as it was too heavy. My brother’s finally got it out of there last year. This firesafe is about 110 years old, and the door alone weighs about 300 lbs. The door has been ajar for ages, and the last time I was in the house that it was still safe, I tried to move that door. I couldn’t push it even an inch!
While cleaning Dad’s house, I found the bill of lading and shipping receipt for the safe, so I know how much it weighs. 1600 pounds, almost at ton, shipped from Ohio, I think. I also found the combination, which was rather helpful in deciding whether to keep it or not.
Anyway, back to the story. The house was beautiful with very vintage wallpaper, an old screen door, linoleum floor in the kitchen and bath, wainscoting in the bath, wood floors, parlor doors that slid into the wall, clawfoot bathtub (I think), stained glass round windows in the attic and stairwell, tall ceilings, iron radiators, glass door knobs, a big farm sink, one of the oldest electric stoves I’ve ever seen, a handy man’s room off the back porch, kitchen cabinets that still closed after how many years, an old player piano, and rather fancy trim and doors that were probably hand carved.
When, I was a kid, I didn’t think about how neat the house was. Not sure anyone did until it started falling in disrepair and being vandalized.
Now, 35 years after Grandma moved to town, it’s a shell of a place. I think the reason why Dad never wanted to fix it up and move in like Mom wanted was because it has foundation problems, so I’ve been told anyway.
This is like a drawing of a picture of the house. I don’t even know if I have an actual picture of the house! See the old sheep shed in the back?
At this point, it’s probably beyond fixable. But, if I had the money, and it were no object, I’d have someone build me a house very much like that one, probably right next to it, and try to reclaim as much of the wood and trim as we possibly could. I know it’s too late for Mom to be able to live there, but wouldn’t it be nice if some of her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and maybe great-great grandchildren could stay out there and run around the farm (which also isn’t what it used to be) – like her dad, herself, and her kids before them? I think so.