It’s just an old house. Sitting empty for several years, as though waiting for the people to come back to resume life there. The windows lacked curtains; the blinds lowered to create a sleepy look on the façade.
The farmhouse was a typical design for this area, two stories with three sections jutting out from each other, one being the kitchen, another the family room, the third usually a bathroom, each section had a bedroom overhead. A dining room was in the center of the house. A hand-dug root cellar entrance was in the back of the house, where the house was flat and lacking decoration except for the entrance leading into a mudroom, which had been added on.
Most people never gave the property a second look. After all, it was just an old house. It wasn’t until you slowed down and looked closely, that you realized this home, now empty and desolate, was once a well-cared-for residence. Delicate gingerbread style trim with graceful curves and decoration still adorned the eaves of the porch. It would have been a labor of love to create and paint. The only value purely for decoration, it was no doubt installed to please the lady of the house, perhaps a special gift for a celebration.
Overgrown lilac bushes edged the property, overblown and rootbound, they would have once offered the sweet powdery perfume of springtime. Rhubarb and gooseberry bushes nearly choked out by weeds entwined the wrought iron fence which is also in disrepair. Another luxurious decorative item to make the property pretty, maybe used to keep sheet or cattle out of the yard.
Under the windows, you could see the flat, broad leaves of lily of the valley, and the spent greenery of daffodils, the toxicity of the bulbs probably the only things that allowed them to survive this long.
The two porches are small, pocket shaped in the corners, just large enough for a small rocking chair — a perfect place to catch the evening breeze or to shell peas on a warm summer day. The other, facing the drive, might have had two chairs or a bench for neighbors to sit and visit for a bit.
The array of maple trees, sturdy, stately sentinels, which have stood for more than a century, have fallen to the bulldozer. Soon, they will be forgotten like the lives of the people who once rested under their canopy, or the children who once scaled their branches.
It’s just an old house. Every time I drove past it, I thought what a nice home it would make and wouldn’t it be nice to be able to be the person to do so. By the time you read this — it will be gone. A bit of history vanished. The dramas, celebrations and grief it witnessed also disappearing into the mists of time.
I understand why the owners had to take it down. In recent years, vandals had broken into the home and broken windows, strewn trash on the scuffed wooden floor and written obscenities on the plaster walls. Doorknobs and fixtures were stolen. The handcrafted heart of pine corner hutch was ripped from the wall and smashed. Pipes and wiring were stolen. It was as if the house was an elderly being, mugged and robbed of valuables.
Yet, even as it was wounded and deteriorating, it seemed to offer the gift of sanctuary and shelter to anyone willing to see the value that it once contained. It retained shreds of dignity. Like decorative trim and delicate flowers.
Like the statuary and monuments being destroyed and removed from our communities, the value, history and beauty of this home will soon be nothing more than a memory, a footnote in someone’s personal history. It’s destruction and disappearance will be noted for a short while, then it will be forgotten. It was after all, just a house.
Written and submitted by Sarah Roush for The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.