We maybe knew our house was 100 years old in 2017, but didn’t realize it until looking at county records last summer. The house doesn’t look old. It isn’t anything spectacular, just a nice house and we like it. So we had a small 100th birthday party for it, cake and singing included. We even found “Happy Birthday 100 Years” napkins.
In 1990 when we moved in our priest blessed the house for us. Episcopalians have a prayer for everything. When our garage burned a year later we figured out we forgot to have the garage blessed. So in October the Rev. Jim Shumard of St. Mark’s blessed the house and the garage for its next 100 years. So far so good.
I am not handyman or painter and we have had skilled people fix up our house over the years. We finished or refinished the two back rooms, new paint almost everywhere, inside and out, new basement floors, and have totally redone the landscaping and installed two great trees, a Weeping Birch and a Mountain Ash. We had the hardwood floors refinished and had the deck rebuilt and a cover over the deck and the masterpiece, a new roof. When we explained we had the master bedroom redone in 2017, Gary George, who did a lot of the early refinishing, asked if we were done yet. After 27 years we have one room that is still gray so we may not be done.
We both appreciate buildings and architecture and I did some consulting in historic preservation planning so we appreciate old buildings. Our house has been good to us and we to it. Thinking of history the famous Dr. Murphy grew up in our house and we talked with him about it on occasion and heard some good stories about the house and the neighborhood, a couple scandalous. Two of his several daughters dropped by last fall and we gave them a tour.
Historically speaking, in 1917 John F. Kennedy and our house were born. There is a real nice stamp out from the post office commemorating what would be JFK’s 100th birthday. Tarzan and the National Hockey League, Dodge automobiles, Greyhound Bus Lines, Girl Scout cookies, the Panama Canal, and last but not least, Converse All Star sneakers were created in 1917. I have had two pair, one red and one in the classic black and white high top style.
Our house, through its owners, has experienced all these things and many more in 100 years. It has served its owners well and we have all taken good care of it. Maybe there is a positive symbiosis there, humans and their houses. We put a lot of effort into our first house and subsequent owners have pretty much abused it, which makes us sad. On the positive side there are many who have rebuilt and updated old houses, given them new life. That is the better part of human nature. We have lived in our house 27 of its 100 years. That makes us significant stewards of our house so far, but considering its potential lifetime we may ultimately be minor stewards.