Thursday, June 08, 2006

House History

A couple of days ago, a couple of visitors dropped by in the morning. As it turns out, one of the visitors, an older gentleman, was visiting relatives here in Maryville, and stopped by to see his old house and take pictures ... he had lived here back in the early 1950s. What followed was an interesting discussion about the house's history, which at the time he lived here, was apparently quite smaller. Until he built on a few pieces, the northern third of the current living room was an open porch and both the storm cellar/back deck/porch and second bedroom/office and bathroom didn't exist. When we asked him what they did for a bathroom, he pointed to a grove of trees next to the garage and said, "We had an outhouse back there." (It's long gone and filled in, but it probably explains why the trees grew pretty well in the back yard!)

It became quite clear that we owed this gentleman a lot (in particular, the comforts of indoor plumbing).

1 comment:

Cheshirekitty said...

I should note that I have received much of the story of this house from people who have lived in or near the house and "just dropped by to see it again".

Apparently, the house as it was originally built, in 1925, had only two rooms. I am surmising this is a bedroom and a living area that may or may not have housed kitchen facilities. The porch, which is now enclosed and part of the living room, would have been almost as big as half the house. I believe that this would have qualified as a shotgun shack had it had more than two rooms. And yes, the outhouse was out by where the (wreck of a) garage is now.

Our visitor from the other day added on the bathroom, kitchen and other bedroom, which we use as an office. He also enlarged the living room by adapting a screened-in porch -- thus, our living room is longer than it is wide.

Finally, he added one of the most curious pieces of the house -- a cement bunker of a storm cellar with a patio on top, with railings made from steel road signposts, 1x4s, and wooden lattice. Given that this was the 1950's and the height of the Cold War, it is amusing to surmise that this was intended to be a bunker for real.

I understand that he also was responsible for moving the (wreck of a) garage to the property, in the time-honored tradition of Missourians never letting anything go to waste. I believe this involved skids and an old pickup.

Our visitor was only the latest in a series of visitors who have told me the history of the house. The first year I lived here, I met the people who completely gutted and sheet-rocked the house in the early 90's; my favorite moment of that conversation was when the wife turned to the husband and asked, "Remember we cut that doorway out with a chain saw?" They, incidentally, also created the set-in bookcases that are the focal point of the living room and the reason I bought the house.

This house has come a long way from its origins as a two-room shack without indoor plumbing. And, obviously, it's the sort of house people like to come back to visit.