Unfortunately, when we visited sixteen years ago, the mansion was a crumbling wreck.
The foundation was failing, due to someone's uninformed decision to cut through the summer beam that supported the central portion of the house to expand the stairwell descending from the first floor into the basement kitchen. The house was collapsing in on itself, the south wall cracking in protest where a huge failure was visible and would only grow without substantial investment of time, money, and even prayer. The home had been largely otherwise untouched, boasting much evidence of pride, craftmanship, and bustling activity dating from the original late 18th century construction date, including candleboxes in all the first-floor windowsills, thumbprints in the brickwork, once-polished and gleaming hard yellow-pine floors, horsehair plaster, and original paint finishes on the upstairs bedroom doors.
The wooden lintels had collected rain and leached moisture into the brickwork on the outside, causing the mortar to crumble, sad evidence of imminent failure under the sagging weight of the entire front facade - it looked like an old man with the baggy undereyes and downturned lips of a hard life etched across his cheeks.
So many reasons, so much work to do that involved thousands of hours of labor and dollars. So many dollars.
We turned in despair and walked slowly away, taking many dreams and heartfelt agonies of lost potential with us. Husband called it "Heartbreak Ridge," in an attempt to make light of the situation.
But no more. Someone with the wit, patience, and an adequate bank account, had saved it. Unbelievably, now it stands, a larger and steady presence, ready to be occupied once more by a family, a business, someone with even larger dreams.Some of what was done isn't really historically supported, but hey - it remains. It didn't collapse, after all. Hurrah!
Here's to living history, and second chances.