Goodbye, Old House….


July 22, ‘13

Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
Oliver Wendell Holmes

I got up early this morning, did all I needed to do and was out the door by 9:10, headed for my old hometown with my painting gear so I could spend some time saying goodbye to this sweet old house that’s scheduled for demolition sometime in the next month.

I was angry about the proposed demolition of this house for a very long time.  It’s in a Historic District and it seemed there was no way any of the houses in the district would ever be razed, except by some kind of accident or Natural event.  But, the well-known private school in my town decided that they wanted larger quarters for one of their teachers and felt that this house must make way for the new and the large.  When the Private School approached the Historic District with their request, reportedly,  it took less than 5 minutes for 4 members of the commission to say OK big Private School with your Big Bucks.  So much for the Historic District and trusted commissioners….  (Translated:  They rolled over and sucked up….)

Many people have done much to try and stop this house from being razed; many individuals have reached far and wide in an attempt to do what they can to save this house but it seems there’s little to be done.  We who don’t want to see this house razed need equal Big Bucks for lawyers, courts, etc etc.  Public outcry has died down and the house and all it’s history will be razed within a month.


I’ve come to Accept this fact, reluctantly.  My Acceptance has a lingering tint of bitterness toward the Historic District commissioners and the Private School.

When I demonstrated in front of the House against the Private School this past Feb I thought about how much I’d like to come back and do a painting – or just a few sketches and a bunch of photos.  I’ve been thinking about it all Spring, then into the Summer.  It’s not so much procrastinating but waiting for the right time.  For the most part, the time hasn’t been right because of  Work, days of  Rain or Thunderstorms and, most recently,  a huge, 9 day heat wave. 

I read the weather report last night and it appeared that this morning was the best bet for painting outside this week.  Rain/severe thunderstorms for this afternoon and tomorrow and the next few days, and then there are the days when I’m working.  So, this morning, before the rain, it was.

Earlier this morning I emailed the news desks of 2 local newspapers.  I could see where me painting at the site might make a good story. I made sure to wear a nice top, comb my hair neatly (which didn’t last long, but I tried….)  I even wore a little make-up and lipstick….

When I got to town, I parked in the schoolyard where I went to Grammar School, down behind the Bus Shed.  I carried my trusty old lawn chair and pulled my rolly-bag with supplies behind me for the 3 minute walk through the playground to the street across from #59.  There’s a wide grassy area between the sidewalk and the curb on that side of the street and that’s where I camped-out for the 2 or so hours I was there. 

It felt great to be on a site, sitting in my lawn chair, getting ready to do some painting on a day with temperate summer temperatures, a gentle breeze and benevolent sun.  Back in the Saddle!  Just great…!

I took a sketchbook with ‘good’ paper and a pallet that has a limited amount of colors.  I only had a few hours, so wanted to keep it simple.  The past few weeks, I’ve been sketching with paint only and that’s what I decided to do today. 

Behind me was a picket fence that fences in a yard that goes quite a way up the street.  Three men were working on the fence but they were also quite a way up the street.  They were working on the fence that continues past the opening for the walk to the house.  A few runners went by.  The garbage truck stopped and loaded a few of the bins that were out on the curb near me.


I worked for an hour and felt pleased at the way this sketch was going.  I decided to take a break and no sooner had I made that decision two things happened at once; a caller from one newspaper on my cell phone and an old friend who lives on that street spotting me and stopping for a chat.  I acknowledged the friend who indicated ‘later’ and talked to the reporter on the phone for a few minutes and then sat and waited for her to show up.

She was young and charming and we talked for about 40 minutes.  There were a few times I thought to myself ‘who’s interviewing who around here?’  Regarding the house, I tried to maintain the line that I’m sad that the Private School feels they need this house to go, sad the Historic Commission gave it up, sad to see a huge change in this street I know so well since a very young child. 

No sooner had she left when my phone rang again.  It was a reporter from the 2nd –and larger—newspaper I’d contacted earlier.  She said she was on the way and she showed up a few minutes later.  She was also young and charming and we talked for about 40 minutes. 

It will be interesting to me to see what comes of all this.

I don’t ordinarily have a day with so much human interaction and my head is buzzing from it all.

Above all, I’m glad I made the time to do this thing. 

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One Response to Goodbye, Old House….

  1. beetleypete says:

    Thanks for the follow, much appreciated. You were right to try to save this lovely old house. Luckily, we have ‘listing’ here in England, and houses of historical interest, or architectural significance, are not allowed to be altered in any way, or demolished. Regards from Norfolk, Pete.

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