Recently a couple we know moved away to Iowa. They sold their 100 year old house here in our city after they left. We liked this couple, two women, who were at the parties we went to and who were married in Iowa a couple years before they moved there. Some of my family is from Iowa, they are quite conservative so it is good fun to thank them for the gay marriage laws Iowa has passed. I suggest to them the marijuana laws are not far behind. This makes their hair stand on end, but they continue to love me for my charm and wit. Our friends who moved there say they did so because of Iowa’s excellent civil rights laws. I could go on and on about this but back to the 100 year old house.
They sold the house just recently and like a lot of home sellers they kept track of how the new owners have treated the house. You realize by now house people are like cat people or dog people or dedicated employees, even after they leave they expect things to be cared for in the same manner as they did. This house is no exception.
It seems the new owners have crossed the line. They have apparently torn out much of the oak trim and built-in book shelves siding the fireplace. Ouch. What trim is left was painted white. Blasphemy. Seriously.
I’d like to meet the new owners. I want to know they had great reason to do this. I’d like to see their bright shiny faces and know what they were thinking. I’m not really a dramatic but person, but really?
It’s hard for historic house enthusiasts to accept this sort of action. Why buy and old house if what you really want is a newer house with no trim? Where is the reason in destroying history? What good will hundreds of feet of antique oak trim do in the landfill? How will they justify their choice to the next buyers when they sell this house? What do they tell their friends who come over and see an antique house on the outside and a white box on the inside? Maybe their friends wouldn’t come over until the place was “updated”.
It’s hard to tell. I called them the strongest word I could muster without being offensive, “suburbanites”. They aren’t bad people, they just managed to make everyone who has ever been in that house completely mad. I’m sure they have watched enough HGTV to be experts, because as we all know HGTV is the ultimate authority on good homeownership. That’s if you believe everything you see on TV. Maybe the real estate agent gave them the great idea. Maybe they are allergic to historic trim but are required by their jobs to live on that street. Whatever the reason, it hurt some feelings.
It’s an old fashioned thing but a little consideration goes a long way. I’m one of the least considerate person I know, but I have a deep respect for all things history. I would never buy an antique car, but I respect the time and effort some people put into them. I don’t own very many books, but I’m glad for people who keep libraries.
I know we’re Americans with our bill of rights and all. I realize we have the right to pursue happiness at almost any cost. But sometimes we could just throttle back a little and buy a house for it’s existing character. It’s possible someone next door knew the people in that house, had lunch in that house and love that house for it’s amazing history and character.
Embrace your taste and style. Make a statement. Do something dramatic and beautiful with your new house. But please, don’t tear out the trim and built ins. Other people love that house too.