Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sucker for a crumbling estate

As regular readers know, I have been searching for a house in the Carolina's for sometime now. It is not the easiest home to find: It must be near a cultural center, be old and have character, have some acreage and be zoned for horses, have decent schools in case we can actually live there, needs to be a bit of a rehab project so we have the place we want versus the place the previous owners wanted, and it must have the facilities and space for all the plans I have for you and I. Perhaps most importantly, it cannot be near a manufactured home. This formula is a tall order. But we are prepared to compromise.

The new realtor's wife comment when looking at the house below for us, eight miles outside a small southern city with everything we would need, was that she had no idea why anyone would want to live out there. Now, eight miles in North Salem, NY, a deliberately rural horsey suburb of New York City, is nothing. And we like it like that. This person clearly loved to have the neighbor’s right there and a block of people who chat and rely on one another. I have been there and then some, living in claustrophobic quarters of major northeastern cities and now also experiencing a .25 acre lot in a sub-division in Florida. Neither one is a long term place for my spirit.

I am not a fan of even large-lot sub-divisions, either. I don't want groups of others to determine the type of grass and landscaping I can have, the size of my dog, or color of my home. It is too intrusive and for me though I love to have neighbors and friends nearby.

Now a question for you: What do you think about living on 6 acres located eight miles out of the city, your nearest neighbor a quarter mile gallop away, and no street lights?
That is where this house is. Forgive the quality of the photos...

It has some interesting details...

but has been the victim of some dubious decisions: You cannot see it here but white paint has been slapped over paneled knotty Carolina heart pine in the living room. The paneling is very noticeable in reality and does not at all suit the house. I know what the pine looks like because in the huge family room, the paneling is still uncovered by paint. For devotees of pine and native Carolina woods, it must be glorious. But my taste in woods runs to mahogany, oak, rose, and pecan. To me, the pine is just not sophisticated enough for the house. This bothers me.

Though the kitchen has new countertops, the whole thing needs renovated. I would keep the cabinetry because it is quality and some form of checkerboard floor but over time the rest would change. There is a huge windowed sun porch through a pass through to the left. I love it for its sunniness and potential for the Hostess' projects.

Here is the ruinous magnificence about this place: All over the acreage there are these ruins of fabulous outdoor spaces: Patios, picnic areas, fountains, fruit and nut orchards, and (to the left below) a real live grape arbor. There are horse farms on both sides and a stream at the back of the property. There is room for horses on the grounds though no stable or fencing, yet. The is a long pine lined drive which has never been paved. Also, a concerning sump pump in the basement (basements are rare in this area). There is also a "garage" which is actually a corrugated shed workshop in the way back and a supposed fourth bedroom (which has not been discovered yet), according to the listing.

What ever house we settle upon, you will be there as we reclaim it in these pages so please tell me what you think.


Patricia Shackelford said...

It certainly has a gracious feel. It sounds like it has a lot of the elements you are looking for. The thing is, you can't tell until you walk in the door and heart explodes in your chest. That is usually a good sign.

~Tessa~Scoffs said...

This one is a "yes" in my book.

We're currently looking for property with acreage as well. As we live in San Diego, it is proving near impossible. Everytime we see a property listed that "sounds" good, upon further inspection it is revealed to be a gated community. Ack!

An Aesthete's Lament said...

I have no problem living a comfortable distance from civilization. One makes one's own civilization and, when bored with it, can make entertaining forays here and there. The house does look lovely, though not especially distinguished (1940s?), and the wing to the right looks questionable. I am charmed but not sold on it.

TreadUpon68 said...

A quick word about sidewalks/streetlights- we had them in our old neighborhood, at the house where our daughter was born. We moved in 2007 to a development; daughter is now 3 1/2. One of the things we miss most about the old neighborhood is the sidewalks...once dusk arrives we don't want to take her out walking or in the stroller on the street for fear of some cell-phone talking crazy-driving kid. More of a problem in the fall, but just for your consideration. (No regrets though, I no longer wake up wondering of someone spray painted our fence overnight.)

Blushing hostess said...

All good thoughts. It is gracious in a welcome to stately pine cabin kind of way. And indeed, there will be sidewalks for walks but big open fields help. Finally, AAL, you are correct indeed, 1948 on the original section and the addition to the side you mention, 1966, is the location of the pine shrine... oh, what to do? what to do?