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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An Overview

I thought it would be a good time to give an overview of our house project.

First, a little history about the house. The house was built around 1850 and sits on 4.16 acres with views of hayfields and distant mountains. When Dan and I get some time we will go to our closest large city of Nashua, where we can look up state records and get a more exact date. The sales agent for our house gave us the name of a man who contacted her a couple of months ago stating that his great/great-great grandfather lived in the house at one time. I have his number and hope to get more information and some old photos of the house from him. Our house is a traditional "farmhouse" and was thought to be a part of the neighboring grand estate. The large maple trees on our property continue in a row through the estate, so that makes a lot of sense. The way our house is sited also suggests it was part of the estate- our house faces the estate house not the road below. Our house sits up on a hill (I have always loved houses that sit up from the road!) and the property line on the road is lined with a stone wall and our driveway is flanked by a pair of gorgeous stone beehives to mark the entrance. Stone walls are everywhere here, and I mean everywhere. You can be out in the middle of nowhere and the land will have stone walls running through it. We've been told that back in the early 1800's the whole state of New Hampshire was logged off and if you look at old photos of towns back then they are always sitting on barren land. The stones were moved from the fields to prepare them for planting and were conveniently stacked into walls. They are 'dry-stacked' meaning no mortar of any kind. They are truly works of art and it is amazing to think they have been standing for hundreds of years! Sorry, I digress.... The foundation of the house sits on huge slabs of granite (New Hampshire is the 'granite state' after all!) and everyone from the inspector, the structural engineer, our contractor, and all the various subs who come to bid jobs at the house all praise the solid foundation and how well it was built. They all say they've never seen a house this old in such good structural condition. Woo-hoo! (that's Dan and me cheering!)

Our mission statement is to bring this 19th-century home into the 21st-century and enable it to last another 150 years! We will be putting in all new electrical wiring throughout the house(electricians started last Monday), burying the electrical lines to the house from the road, installing all new plumbing, new roofs , a state-of-art heating and air conditioning system (and yes, you do want AC here in the summer) and blowing in insulation- believe it or not the house had none which made our contractor very happy since it makes our new "green" insulation that much more effective. The windows in the main house are staying- no one is touching my windows no matter how much my dear husband and contractor try to guilt me into their lack of energy efficiency! The antique wavy glass is gorgeous and no one is touching them! The new ell kitchen and master bath and the barn room will all have new energy-efficient windows.

As it sits now the attached barn is just that... a barn- cow stanchions and all! I knew it was my house when out in one of the cow stalls is a iron hay rack very similar to the one I had purchased for a fern holder at my old house! Again, I digress! The barn is also very well built, although a later addition to the main house, and will be a big project. The basement floor will be turned into a three-car garage (the house doesn't have a garage at present); the main floor will be a large 'barn' or great room with a huge field-stone fireplace and french doors looking out to the back meadow (aka our backyard!), a mudroom area where you come up from the garage floor below and a large storage room (antique houses have NO storage!), the second floor will be have a purpose-to-be-determined room with a vaulted ceiling and the other half will magically be opened into the main house and will become my master closet and a master storage room!

Have I made you tired yet?!

The beehives at the entrance from the road
A neat view of our location- this white house is the estate next door, as seen from the hill across from our hill...our house is just to the right of the white house

A larger view of same photo- white house is on the right side in the middle of the photo

Back view of the house with the ell and the attached barn
Baseboards off to pull new electrical wiring
The basement showing the granite slab foundation


  1. Joan, this is so fascinating (I keep repeating myself, I know.)

    I love and appreciate a home with history; you and Dan surely have found a lovely one.

    It is beautiful, down to the stone foundation. What a treasure!

  2. once upon a porsche (mista lucas)November 13, 2008 at 8:28 PM

    love the house and the history that it has (may have too). i know for sure that the WOLF appliance (very nice!) will bring that new kitchen well into the 21st century. everything looks to be going in the right direction. we miss ya'll!


  3. Yes, I'm one of those people who just can't get enough FtLoaH!! I keep reading and delving back further and further. I am fascinated by antique homes, their stories, their charm, their architectural details and their happy endings. What an amazing journey y'all are making! I have always felt drawn to homes with history and have imagined, since childhood, that I would one day embark on a similar trail. So far, we've only been working (within an inch of its life!!) a 1940s home. Thank you so much for sharing all of this. That voice in my head is constantly screaming "oh my goodness...yes!!" I am so inspired and somehow feel a distant kinship to you; as a designer, a southerner and a bit of an adventurer...So very happy to have found your blog!!

  4. Even through ice cream season is over,I'm looking forward to your fall posts. I was wondering if I could get your opinion on a French stand I came across on Craigslist. Your knowledge of all things antique and french seems vast, and I'm so curious to see what you think. If you think it "something", then I know it would be a diamond in the rough. Thank you, Susan
    It looks like it could use a good cleaning,but I would not want to diminish it value. Do you think it could just use a little Brasso, or maybe something more organic?

    1. hi Susan, I think the stand is great, in fact I saw a similar plant stand not long ago that had marble shelves. Since it appears to be assembled with what looks like "machine made" screws I doubt it is a true antique (i.e. 100 years old). Personally, I would negotiate for a better price.
      Regarding cleaning- I can't tell for sure from the photos, but it almost looks like it could have originally been lacquered. I would not use Brasso- too harsh, and it would get into all the little crevices and would be difficult to get out. (You often see the white residue in antiques that people have tried to clean;) My new go-to when I don't want something brass to be too, too new looking in the end, is to use Bar Keepers Friend. For something this large, I would do it outside then wash it off with a hose to get all the product off. I would make a paste of BKF and water and go slowly and lightly- meaning clean it in layers to get to the patina you desire.
      Best of luck!

  5. Joan, I can't remember how I found your blog in the rabbit warren that is comprised of design blogs on the internet, however I've really enjoyed perusing your site, and the anecdotes and photos that live there. I was about 15 minutes into reading through your blog entries and realized you're now living in NH and then some of your outdoor/town common photos started to look eerily familiar. I grew up about 12 miles from where your house is (in Hollis) and have been to Wilton more times than I can count. Southern New Hampshire is a very special place, indeed, however (and this is ironic) I now live in Austin, TX and love it. Basically, we've switched existences. ;-) I spend part of the year in coastal Maine and try to get back to southern NH to visit family during the summers I'm in Maine. Long may you keep loving my home state, please tell Pack Monadnock I said hello.


  6. I just found your blog and as a native New Hampshire-ite (its a word.... )I love experiencing my home through someone from aways eyes! and you have fabulous taste!!!!!


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