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Posts Tagged ‘colonial place’

Greatest Home Bargain in Norfolk (Colonial Place): Only $11,000!! (In 1924)

March 14th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

David Spriggs and I have spent countless hours reading old newspapers. We’re reading the Lake Mills Leader (Wisconsin) looking for more information on Addie Hoyt, and we’re also reading the Virginian Pilot, hoping to find a photo of the houses that were shipped here from Penniman Virginia.

In the process of reading these old papers, David happened upon an old photo of a house for sale in Colonial Place (Norfolk). We’re sharing it here, just because it’s a neat old photo, showcasing one of the finer homes in Colonial Place.

Colonial Place

David figured out that this house is at 711 Pennsylvania Avenue in Colonial Place (1924).

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Porch people not included.

Porch people do not convey (but it would be fun to know who they are).

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Close-up of the homes description.

Close-up of the home's description. Sounds pretty swanky!

Text reads,

All tapestry brick home located on Pennsylvania Avenue, concrete driveway, and double garage to match. Built on lot 50 x 110 feet, next to 150 by 150 Gosnold Avenue site, and surrounded by beautiful trees and shrubbery. As you enter this beautiful tapestry brick home you enter a large reception hall; to the right is a large living room with a beautiful tapestry brick fireplace, also large dining room with double French doors between dining room and living room, large hall, kitchen and bath; No. 1 oak floors downstairs.

Second floor has a large hall in center, with four large bedrooms, with closets in all rooms. Large tiled bath, leading from hall to large observation porch. Stairway to exceptionally large attic fully floored. House thoroughly screened and shades included, bone dry cellar with hot water heat, and plumbing of the very best, stationary tubs, No. 1 Buckingham slate roof.

This home was built by the owner, who is a contractor and was not built to sell, but is sacrificing because he is leaving Norfolk.

To learn more about Colonial Place, click here.

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“The Little House,” by David.

February 18th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

I’m mighty happy to be in my new home, but one of the things I miss from the old place is my little 96-square-foot house.

David Strickland designed it and built it in September 2008, and it is a real beauty. It has more than 250 linear feet of crown molding, a floored attic (with a vertical staircase), and five wonderful windows. And it has 96 square feet of living area. And did I mention that it has a slate roof?

If you want a little house of your own, or if you need any type of contracting work, I highly recommend David. He is easily the finest contractor that I’ve ever worked with. In addition to his 30 years of experience, he’s incredibly talented. He’s more than just an experienced carpenter, he’s a true artisan, in every sense of the word.

If you’d like to see samples of his work, scroll on down. He’s done so much work for us, and I’ve never met another contractor who comes close to this level of quality.

We always called it, The Little Mansion. This is a real beauty and its a lovely testament to Davids abilities.

We always called it, The Little Mansion. This is a real beauty and it's a lovely testament to David's abilities.

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Davids little house.

This custom-built jewel has more than 250 feet of crown molding and a slate roof. And it was designed and built by David Strickland.

David also restored the bathroom for us. The work he did was first rate, and the end result was magazine-quality gorgeous!

David also restored the bathroom for us. The work he did was first rate, and the end result was magazine-quality gorgeous!

And David built the picket fence, too.

And David built the picket fence, too.

Another view of the picket fence that David built for us.

Another view of the picket fence that David built for us.

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David Strickland, the most talented Master Carpenter I ever met.

David Strickland, the most talented Master Carpenter I ever met.

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Teddy, the Amazing Watch Dog!

October 7th, 2011 Sears Homes 3 comments

It was about 11:45 pm on a Thursday night when Teddy walked over to my side of the bed, stuck her snout next to mine, and gave me one loud “Woof.”

I opened my eyes and said, “What?” (as if she would answer). With an unmistakable intensity, she looked me right in the eye and repeated herself:  “Woof!”

Usually when there’s another dog outside, she’ll bark a bit and then settle down. If there’s someone walking down the city sidewalk, she’ll bark a little and then stop. But this was different.

I looked into her eyes for a minute and I swear I heard her say, “Listen, you need to get out of that bed and look outside. This isn’t just a random ‘woof’. This one’s important.”

She did not leave her station at the side of my bed but continued to stare intensely at me. I arose from my soft pink bed and toddled outside to the second-floor balcony just outside my bedroom. I looked outside and saw two highly questionable people studying my car, which was parked on the street. One was especially interested in the license plate. The other was leaning over and looking in the driver’s window.

The dog followed me out to the balcony and stood out there and barked. I was trying to figure out if I should yell or call 911, but Teddy’s barking was enough. They immediately stood upright and walked away.

Back in the bedroom, I thanked Teddy and gave her some praise. As I settled back under the covers, I said a little prayer of gratitude for her perspicacity. And I wondered, “How did she know? And how did she know how to get my attention with that little staring maneuver? How could she hear those silent people out there, preparing to mess with my red Camry?”

One of my favorite books is Kinship with All Life and its premise is that dogs are a lot smarter and a lot more intuitive and a lot more attuned to feelings and emotions that we humans can ever understand or appreciate.

The morning after the incident with the miscreants, I praised Teddy to the moon and stars. And that afternoon, she went outside and dug a hole in the middle of my freshly planted St. Augustine grass. Guess she didn’t want me to think she was the World’s Most Perfect Puppy.

This happened about two years ago, and we’ve since moved to another area, but Teddy still keeps a watchful eye over our property. These days, those “intruders” are mostly ducks and geese and racoons and muskrats - and the occasional snake.

She’ll be three years old this month, and she’s been a lot of fun in those three years. Best of all, I’ve never heard her voice one complaint about anything. She really is a good dog, a good companion and a trust-worthy friend.

To learn about the amazing collection of Sears Homes in Hampton Roads, click here.

Read about Teddy and the little boy here.


Teddy the Dog watches over her Sheepie on a Saturday afternoon.

Teddy the Dog watches over her Sheepie on a Saturday afternoon.

Teddy looks regal.

Teddy re-enacts her "watchful pose" at a local park.

Cute puppy, but she was incredibly ill-behaved as a child. Fortunately, she grew up to be a good dog.

"Theodora Duncan Doughnuts Ringer" was a real cutie-pie, but she was incredibly ill-behaved as a child. Fortunately, she grew up to be a very good dog. She's shown here at about eight weeks old, being cuddled by her adoptive daddy.

In this remarkable photo of baby Teddy, she inadvertantly shows off her incredible

Teddy shows here that she not only knows how to "speak duck," but she is mimicking the duck's facial expressions as well.

Ted

Teddy the Amazing Watch Dog.

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The Top 12 Most Important Things I Learned about Harvesting Rain Water

September 23rd, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Back in the day, we called them cisterns. These were brick-lined wells - above or below grade - designed to collect and store the rain-water from a home’s roof. Even after city water became widely available, people kept their cisterns and its soft, sweet-smelling rain water, which was ideal for washing clothes and rinsing hair.

As the decades rolled by, people abandoned their cisterns and closed them off. Without active use, they became a breeding ground for bugs and also a safety hazard for pets and little children.

With the “green movement” and the soaring cost of municipal water, there also came a resurgence in the idea of rain-water harvesting (as it became known in the late 20th Century).

Here in Norfolk, Virginia, I had intended to dig a well, to satiate my thirsty veggies and flowers. However, my husband (who happens to be the chief deputy city attorney in Norfolk) said, “Let me look up the ordinances on that first.”

Turns out, Norfolk  has an ordinance that forbids sinking a well within 50 feet of any property lines. Since our spacious old house was centered on our 110′ by 110′ lot, that nixed that idea.

My other option was rain water harvesting. Fortunately, the city doesn’t have any ordinances against collecting rain water. (In some states, it is illegal to collect rain water.)

After I set up my first rain barrel, it didn’t take me long to realize that one 60-gallon rain barrel didn’t go very far during one of Tidewater’s hot, dry summers.

One rain barrel

One solitary rain barrel

The next summer, I added more rain barrels, positioning them under a downspout that produced copious amounts of water. The first year, my little rain barrels sat directly on the dirt, and they didn’t get much use. They were too low, too muddy and the head pressure was abysmal. Later that year, I built a nice wooden stand for my rain barrels.

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(By the way, if you’re in Hampton Roads, I highly recommend “Mike’s Rain Barrels.” Contact Mike at mminor1959@verizon.net or call (757) 761-1553. The best part - he’ll deliver your rain barrels in his Toyota Priuss.)

Rain

The triplets.

The stand made it much easier to access my rain barrels, plus, the three feet of height gave them a little bit of head pressure, and improved water flow. And the 3-foot stand made it easy to fasten a hose to the spigot (a simple feat that was nearly impossible when the barrels sat on the ground).

Another 10 blogs could be written about the benefits of rain barrels, but in short - for gardening - rain water is better than chlorinated city water. While chlorination keeps us humans from getting cholera and other nasty bugs, that chlorination will also kill off the microorganisms in the soil that helps plants thrive.

And there’s a financial incentive, too. Experts say that 40% of our summertime water use comes from the outside spigot.

In the process of using these rain barrels throughout the summer, I learned a lot of practical lessons. Below are the top 10 most important things I learned.

1) Height is important. For every foot of height you add to your stand, you’ll gain .43 psi of head pressure. If you could manage a ten-foot stand (not advisable for safety reasons), that’d give you 4.3 psi. From a practical matter, the three-foot stand (pictured above) put the spigot at the perfect height for me. And if you’re working with a raised bed garden (like mine), you’ll need the extra height so that water can flow easily to your thirsty plants.

Raised beds

My raised bed is 24" tall, so the three-foot stand is perfect.

2) Weight is also important. Water weighs about 8.3 pounds per gallon. Those rain barrels hold 60 gallons. That’s 498 pounds per barrel, and I’ve got three on one stand, so that’s almost 1,500 pounds of weight (when the barrels are full). That’s a tremendous amount of weight and you should plan accordingly when building your stands. This summer, when my barrels run dry, I’ll have to pull them down and add cross-bracing to the stands. You’ll note in the picture that they’ve started to lean hard to the left. Cross bracing would have prevented that.

twisty

Let's not twist again, like we did last summer...

3) Placement. My three rain barrels are located in my back yard, underneath a busy downspout. Water comes from the main roof (which is slate), flows down to the smaller roof and into my rain barrel. With 10-15 minutes of a good downpour, all three rain barrels are filled up full.

rain

The downspout on this side of the house produces a lot of rainwater.

4) Pre-screen your rainwater. These rain barrels have a four-inch floor drain in their top, with a piece of mosquito screen affixed. Too many times to count, I’ve rejoiced as a summer storm pours rain from above, only to find that the four-inch hole became hopelessly choked with the debris from the gutters, and very little of that delightful rainwater actually entered my rain barrels. My solution to this was simple. I took the aluminum-framed screen from an old storm window and stuck it on top of the rain barrel. That solved my problem. The large surface area of the aluminum screen allowed water to flow even after that first pile of gunk came washing down the spout.

Pre screen

And it's just an aluminum screen from an old storm window. The brick keeps it in place. My husband said this rig makes it look like Jed Clampett lives here, but it works.

5) If you’re building/making your own rain barrel, put the spigot in the right place. When my neighbor saw my rain barrels, he ran out and bought some materials and made his own barrels. Every single one of his five rain barrels has a spigot at the half-way point on the barrel’s side. This means that he’ll only be able to use 50% of the water in the barrel. Not a good design. There are also entire blogs devoted to building your own rain barrel. The barrels shown here are food-grade olive barrels, used to ship olives here from overseas. Learn more here.

Rain

Spigot placement is important.

6) Don’t get bugged. Mosquitoes are naturally drawn to stagnant water and rain barrels provide the ideal breeding ground. Screens will stop some of that, but not all. One year, I had mosquitoes crawling in through my overflow pipe. Adding several drops of baby oil to each rain barrel will create an oily film in the water, and should stop mosquitoes from laying eggs in your rain barrel.

7) One downside to this rainwater fun is that you’ll now have to keep your gutters cleaned out. If all that precious rainwater is cascading over the front edges of your gutters because the downspouts are blocked, your rain barrels won’t do much for you. And if your house is sheltered by large trees (like mine), this can be a perennial problem.

Trees

Trees are pretty to look at, but hard on gutters.

8) When the barrel runs dry, remember to turn the spigot off. Sounds simple enough, but somehow, it’s so easy to forget this little detail. Many times, I’ve gone outside to check my rain barrels after a hard rain, only to find that I left the spigot open and all that rainwater went in through the top and out through the spigot.

oopsie

It's easy to forget to close the spigot when rain barrels run dry.

9) Maintenance. About once a year, I rinse out the rain barrels with city water. The bottom gets a layer of crud in it and the smell is horrific. I’m not sure about the microbiology of all that decaying matter, and maybe it’s just dandy for the garden, but the stench will knock your socks off.

10) Keep water away from the foundation. A surprising amount of water can be discharged through your overflow pipe. Make sure that water is directed away from the house.

Make sure that water flows away from house.

I keep meaning to put that downspout spillway *under* the overflow hose.

11) Your downspout might not quite hit the sweet spot on the rain barrel. A little extra piece of aluminum downspout is probably the simplest solution. I used a piece of Plexiglas, which also does the job nicely.

Buts

You might need to add a little extender to the downspout to reach your rain barrel.

12) If a drought hits, and you don’t want to use chlorinated water on your lovingly maintained and chlorine-free tomato plants, you can fill one rain barrel with city water and let it sit for several days. The chlorination will dissipate in time and you’ll have chlorine-free water. This isn’t the ideal, but in a pinch, it’s one way to keep your garden chlorine free.

13) Enjoy. I’ve had a lot of fun playing with my rain barrels. And look how my garden grows!

garden

Garden views.

garden

Tomatoes, strawberries and carrots share living space.

wow

And the world's most perfect strawberry, from my garden.

And flowers, too!

And flowers, too!

When we were kids, we’d sing this little ditty.

See, see my playmate,
Come out and play with me
And bring your dollies three
Climb up my apple tree
Holler down my rain barrel
Slide down my cellar door
And we’ll be jolly friends
Forever evermore.

Again, I highly recommend Mike’s Rain Barrels.  Contact Mike at mminor1959@verizon.net or call (757) 761-1553. The best part - he’ll deliver your rain barrels in his Toyota Priuss.

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To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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My Pretty, Pretty Pink House - SOLD!!

August 18th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

We closed on the old pink house a few days ago, and the day after that, we closed on our new home! We’re all moved into the new house in Bromley (near the Norfolk airport)!

The house we left - in Colonial Place - is a grand old house filled with the most modern technologies and about $60,000 in recent improvements.

I hope the new owners realize that they got the deal of the decade!  Beauty, charm, sturdiness, grace together with high-falutin’ fancy-dancy electrical/mechanical systems and super high efficiency heating and cooling equipment.

It’s a grand old house, and it was a fun ride, but I’m ready to start this new chapter in my life - living in a little brick ranch!  :)

My favorite angle is the side, which shows off those quarter-round windows and new canvas awning.

My favorite angle is the side, which shows off those quarter-round windows and new canvas awning.

3916 Gosnold - from the front.

Dappled afternoon sunlight complements the front of 3916 Gosnold.

The

The gated entrance to my secret garden!

And on the other side of the gate youll find bowers of flowers (blooming in the sun).

And on the other side of the gate you'll find bowers of flowers (blooming in the sun).

Something this old house hasnt seen in a long time - GRASS in the sideyard!

Something this old house hasn't seen in a long time - GRASS in the sideyard! The pergola is pretty nice, too.

My daughter said we didnt have enough views of the inside, so I took some additional photos!

My daughter said we didn't have enough views of the inside, so I took some additional photos! View from the living into the foyer and dining room.

The setting sun illuminates the formal dining room, which measures more than 13 x 17.

The setting sun illuminates the formal dining room, which measures more than 13 x 17.

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The formal living room is 13 x 23 and is always awash in light.

And the sunporch - one of my favorite rooms in the house!

And the sunporch - one of my favorite rooms in the house! Kinda wish I'd moved that old floor lamp before I took the photo!

View from upstairs - looking into the foyer.

View from upstairs - looking into the foyer.

Another view of the formal staircase

The staircase has solid walnut banister and tapered spindles.

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Upstairs hallway. Door at the end leads to the third floor.

One of the three upstairs bedrooms.

One of the three upstairs bedrooms. The door leads out to a balcony (over the sunporch).

The bathroom was restored to its original 1920s appearance. Notice the hex tile on the floor.

The bathroom was restored to its original 1920s appearance. Notice the hex tile on the floor.

This old pink house has been faithfully restored to its original splendor, and has a high-efficiency gas boiler (94%+), high-efficiency central air (14 SEER) and a dazzling rainwater harvesting system. Enjoy the best of old-world craftsmanship together with the latest and greatest of modern technology. In short, you’ll have the unique pleasure of living in a beautiful old house with none of the environmental guilt. :)

House is 2,300 square feet with three bedrooms, 1-1/2 baths, with a large sunporch, full third floor and awesome basement.

Price is $287,900 with $4,000 closing cost assistance.

If you’re interested in scheduling an appointment please contact the Realtor.

More photos are below.

To read about Aunt Addie’s murder in Lake Mills, click here.

My old house foyer

The house on Gosnold is a classic Colonial Revival, right down to the details. The image on the left is the entry foyer at Gosnold Avenue. The image on the right is the cover of the book, "Colonial Style." Even the light fixture is the same. The rest of the details are also spot-on. Biggest different is, my rug is not as pretty as theirs.

door

And, we have an original ice box door, too. Back in the 1920s, this door provided access to the back of the icebox, so that the iceman could deliver a 25-pound block of ice to the ice box without entering the home. This was also known as "the jealous husband's door."

fam

The twin grandchildren of the home's builder (William Barnes) sit on the front stoop (mid-1950s). They were born and raised in this house. The home remained in the Barnes' family until 1971, when it was sold to new owners. Laura (on the left) supplied the family photos, which proved invaluable in the home's restoration.

housie

The house at 3916 Gosnold Avenue.

houaiw

Classic lines and high-quality workmanship make this a timeless beauty.

milk

On the back porch is this old "Milk Door," which provided a place for the milkman's deliveries, whether or not anyone was home (and/or awake!). A corresponding door in the pantry enabled the housewife to retrieve deliveries without stepping outside.

kitchen

The house has 32 windows, and 7 of them are in the kitchen. One of my favorite features in the kitchen are these many beautiful windows. The gas stove (left) is less than 30 days old. The dishwasher and fridge (both stainless steel) were new in March 2007.

ki

This spacious kitchen was remodeled in Spring 2007.

ki

The gas stove was installed less than a month ago. Still shiny new!

kitchen

Really big refrigerator does everything but serve you buttered toast in the morning.

living

The living room is awash in light with a western and eastern and southern exposure. The living room is 25 feet long and 13 feet wide.

dining room

The spacious dining room has four windows (six feet tall!) and has beautiful oak floors.

Entry foyer

Visitors to our home frequently comment on the beautiful foyer.

room

Original french doors to the living room and dining room are still in place.

And did you notice those shiny doorknobs on the french doors!

And did you notice those shiny doorknobs on the french doors!

En

A view from the staircase.

house

Another view of the foyer.

rain

The house is also a gardener's delight, with provisions to collect and store more than 200 gallons of rain water.

garden

Your own private farm awaits: Tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, zucchini, strawberries, carrots and lettuce will be ready for harvest in about 30 days.

Another view

Flowers in full bloom.

wow

And the world's most perfect strawberry, from my garden.

Finis!

Carrerra marble under radiator and toilet complement the hex flooring. Work was done in Spring 2010.

Bathroom pretty

Bathroom was restored to its original 1920s appearance.

House

This 1930s vintage thermostat works beautifully, controlling a 2011 high efficiency gas boiler.

New-old stock from eBay. Vintage doorbell installed in 2008, and it has a beautiful chime!

It's the little things that make an old house a special home. Vintage doorbell installed in 2008, and it has a beautiful chime!

view

Front entry foyer is 11 feet wide and 25 feet long.

Its done!

Spacious sunporch has built-in bookcases that are 9-feet tall.

attic

Even the attic is spacious and grand! And with a little back-lighting, these windows can scare the beejeebies out of the trick or treaters on Halloween night! If you look up, you'll see collar beams on all of the roof joists. The house is topped with Buckingham Slate (recently restored), which weighs 1,400 pounds per square (100 square feet).

House

Little house (address is 3916-1/2) has a floored attic, vintage windows and slate roof.

housie

Another view of the little house.

uniquely large yard for Colonial Place

Private, off-street parking and a uniquely large yard for Colonial Place make 3916 Gosnold Avenue a quiet oasis amidst a sea of classic old houses.

Street view

View from the street.

Sideyard summertime view

Sideyard summertime view.

Another view

Another view of the pergola.

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Our New Home - in Norfolk, Virginia

August 17th, 2011 Sears Homes 11 comments

The beautiful pink house on Gosnold is now a closed chapter in our lives, and we’re delighted to be settling into our new home in another section of Norfolk. The big pink house was fun, but we’re grateful to have handed over the reins to a delightful young couple that have an inherent understanding that they are not just “homeowners” but caretakers.

There are countless blogs at this site detailing the work we’ve done to our 1925 center-hallway, Colonial Revival, so this blog will be all about the new house!

The new house is ideal for us, at this time in our lives. It’s a smaller house and a simpler house, and it’s all on one level. The best part is, the beautiful back yard adjoins a small canal off of Lake Whitehurst. For most of my life, I’ve dreamt of living on the water, and that dream has now come true.

When I was a little girl, my mother would walk through the halls of our home saying, “I’m so blessed to live in such a beautiful place. Just so blessed.” Such things leave a deep impression on a little girl, and I’m sure that my mother’s enjoyment of that home is a big part of the reason that historic architecture became my career.

And now, walking through the splendid rooms of my recently purchased 1962 brick ranch and gazing out the many windows at the beautiful yard with its water views, I hear my mother’s words return to me.

I’m so blessed to live in such a beautiful place. Just so blessed.

Realtor Gary Crawford sits on the front steps of our new home. This photo was taken several days before we moved in, and we were there for the property inspection. Gary Crawford was incredibly professional and thoughtful, too. Notice that hes dressed to match the beautiful Ringer Ranch.

Realtor Gary Crawford sits on the front steps of our new home. This photo was taken several days before we moved in, and we were there for the property inspection. Gary Crawford was incredibly professional and thoughtful, too. It's clear that he loves being a Realtor, and that's reflected in his attitude and actions. Notice that he's dressed to match the beautiful "Ringer Ranch."

Close-up of Gary Crawford of ReMax Alliance (Virginia Beach).  Im a tough customer, but I was very impressed with Gary.

Close-up of Gary Crawford of ReMax Alliance (Virginia Beach). I'm a tough customer, but I was very impressed with Gary.

The Ringer Ranch is an L-shaped brick ranch, with the large den on the back of the house forming the L.

The Ringer Ranch is an L-shaped brick ranch, with the large den on the back of the house forming the "L". For several years, my late father had lived in an L-shaped brick ranch and I always thought it was one of the prettiest houses I'd ever seen. The last day he was in that house, I sat in his living room and said a prayer that somehow, someway, I'd one day live in a home as beautiful as his. This house is an answer to that prayer.

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A large Silver Maple and several pine trees in the back yard create a beautiful, park-like setting.

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The sunporch is 168 square feet of heaven on earth. I was delighted to find that these are Andersen casement windows, and even though they're probably 20+ years old, they still work like new. This ravishing room in the Ringer Ranch will be known as "The Ringer's River Room."

Another view of The River Room in the Ringer Ranch!

Another view of The River Room in the Ringer Ranch!

And just off the sunporch is this delightful deck. Weve already found it be a favorite spot, where we can sit in the morning and evening, and watch the fishies jump in the lake.

And just off the sunporch is this delightful deck. We've already found it be a favorite spot, where we can sit in the morning and evening, and watch the fishies jump in the lake.

Front

So come on in and take the full tour!

And shut the door!

Notice the COAT CLOSET! It's a closet that's just for coats! WOW!

When we started looking at houses several months ago, I told my husband that I knew exactly what I wanted, and I described it this way:  I want a custom-built brick ranch from the late 1950s or early 60s, that has had only one owner, and that one owner will have taken extraordinarily good care of his beloved home, and the house will have two baths and at least three bedrooms and a two-car garage. The house will be a step-back in time, and will have its original kitchens and baths, and while other people may say that the house needs updating, Ill be thrilled to find a house in such perfectly original condition.

When we started talking about moving, I told my husband that I knew *exactly* what I wanted, and I described it this way: "I want a custom-built brick ranch from the late 1950s or early 60s, that has had only one owner, and that one owner will have taken extraordinarily good care of his beloved home, and the house will have two full baths and at least three bedrooms and a two-car garage. Entering the house will be like a step-back in time, and our new house will have its original kitchens and baths, and they'll be in pristine condition. In the kitchen, it'll have the original Formica counter-tops with a chrome edge. The bathrooms will be a snazzy color combination with tile wainscoting and walls. While other people may say that the house 'needs updating,' I'll be thrilled to find a house in such perfectly original condition." And I found *that* house! It is a "one-owner home" and it's in wonderful shape!

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The kitchen is in beautifully original condition. Look at that Formica!

Another view of our wonderful kitchen!

Another view of our wonderful kitchen! The Formica counter tops - now almost 50 years old - are in flawless condition. It's just amazing to see a house that's been cared for this well. For many years, I've told lecture attendees that while we may own our homes, we're really caretakers, and we have a duty to keep our homes in good condition. The previous owner of this house (Mr. and Mrs. Martin) lived this principle, and I am grateful.

And perhaps my favorite room is the spacious den, just off the kitchen.

And perhaps my favorite room is the spacious den, just off the kitchen. The den sits behind the two-car garage, and is isolated from the bedrooms - which is ideal - as this will be our "Snoratorium," where Hubby can retreat when his snoring becomes loud! The masonry fireplace is in beautiful condition.

But perhaps the very best feature of the den is

But perhaps the very best feature of the den is the entire wall of built-in bookcases. As my daughter pointed out, I have built and installed book-cases in every single home I have ever owned - no exceptions. It's nice to walk into a house with ready-made bookcases (which happen to be far nicer than anything I ever built).

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Another view of our den, with the matching Realtor!

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The long hallway back to the bedrooms has a lush, deep-pile blue carpet. At first, I thought the 1980s blue would bother me, but I've grown to love it. Above all, it makes the house incredibly quiet, and that's a big plus. Mr. Hubby has big, heavy feet!

And just down the hallway is the worlds most beautiful bathroom! Its PINK!  And like the kitchen, the formica countertops are in pristine condition. The tile floors and wall are also in beautiful shape. What could be better than a cast-iron, 1960s Kohler bathtub? Nothing! Unless its a PINK cast-iron, 1960s Kohler bathtub!

And just down the hallway is the world's most beautiful bathroom! It's PINK! And like the kitchen, the formica countertops are in pristine condition. The tile floors and wall are also in beautiful shape.

My pink bathtub!

What could be better than a cast-iron, 1960s Kohler bathtub? Nothing! Unless it's a PINK cast-iron, 1960s Kohler bathtub! And the tub - like everything else - is in excellent condition. Mr. Martin was a mechanical engineer and it's obvious that he took great pride in this fine old house.

The master bedroom has its own bathroom, and is also in wonderfully original condition.

The master bedroom has its own bathroom, and is also in wonderfully original condition. The vanity is not original (nor are the faucets), but everything else is much the same as it was in 1962 when the Ringer Ranch was first built.

I firmly believe the key to marital bliss is his and her bathrooms. This bathroom - with its tan and brown colors - is HIS bathroom. It also has an unusually spacious shower.

I firmly believe the key to marital bliss is "His and Her Bathrooms." This bathroom - with its tan and brown colors - is HIS bathroom. It also has an unusually spacious shower.

A

I love a tiled shower enclosure. The walls, floor and even ceiling are fully tiled, and there's a handy dandy light in the ceiling! Incredibly, all the tile and grout is in beautiful condition.

F

As much as I love the house, I may love the back yard even more. It's on a finger of Lake Whitehurst, and this is navigable water leading to the Lake (Norfolk's reservoir). In my heart of hearts, I really do believe that this house is a gift from God, an answer to many prayers. As I made lists and thought about what I wanted in a house, I never dared to dream that I'd land in a house that was on waterfront property. That was a heavenly bonus. In my career as an architectural historian and lecturer, there were three times that I ended up living in a bedroom because I was out of money and out of options. And while I was sincerely grateful to have a bedroom of my own, I sometimes felt like a fraud - standing in front of a large crowd - talking about houses, while I was too poor to have a home of my own. Now, I *do* have a home of my own and it is the home of my dreams.

Another view of our beautiful lake-front property!  :)

Another view of our beautiful lake-front property! :)

This canal is on a finger of Lake Whitehurst

This canal is on a finger of Lake Whitehurst

B

From the backyard, looking toward the house.

Down by the creek

Down by the creek

H

Another view of the back yard.

The

The view from the master bedroom.

Ted

Our living room, furnished with a few of our favorite things!

My mothers china hutch looks right at home in the corner of our dining room.

My mother's china hutch looks right at home in the corner of our dining room.

Teddy the dog loves the new house and the front door, designed for easy Sheltie viewing.

Teddy the Dog loves the new house and she especially appreciates that the front door is designed for easy Sheltie viewing.

C. S. Lewis said, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

For more than 10 years, I’ve pondered the spiritual meaning of that awe-inspiring quote. Now I’ve started to ponder its literal meaning as well, and that’s a very lovely thing. Maybe by experiencing the literal meaning of that quote, I can better understand its spiritual meaning.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  Soli Deo Gloria.

:)

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s books, click here.

*   *   *

My Pink House

July 28th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

“Do you live in a Sears House?”

Having given more than 200 lectures in 25 states, that is easily the most frequently asked question.

And the answer?

No, but I live in a pink house that was built in 1925, and it’s a beautiful house, and that’s almost as good as a Sears House.

In Summer 2010, we had the house painted pink.

Yes, Pink.

I love it. Just love it, and that’s a good thing because this was an enormous project. We used more than 35 gallons of paint and primer (field and trim) and we chose Sherwin Williams Duration ($50 a gallon, 25 year warranty). Tory Newman did the job, and applied every drop of paint using a paint brush. No rollers, no sprayers, no watered-down-paint, just a first-class paint job done by a first-class painter who used all first-class materials.

My 1925 Colonial Revival looks stunning in pink, and I’m quite certain that this is the prettiest house in all of Norfolk.

My daughter says it looks like strawberry ice cream. My other daughter says it looks like a sheet cake. I think it looks perfect. :)

To read about the perfect pergola in the back yard, click here.

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

Pretty in pink

Pretty in pink

Side view

Side view

The process

The process

The back looked worse than the front. Its likely the front had been repainted, but the rear had not.

The back looked worse than the front. It's likely the front had been repainted, but the rear had not.

Close-up of dirty eaves

Close-up of dirty eaves

Little House

Little House

Winter-time

Winter-time

Little house in the winter

Little house in the winter

To read about Sears Homes, click here.

* * *

The Ten Most Important Things I Learned About Harvesting Rainwater

July 26th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

This dry dusty city of Norfolk, Virginia, has an ordinance that forbids sinking a well within 50 feet of any property lines. Since our house is centered on our 110′ by 110′ lot, that means the only place we could have a well is in the center of our basement.

My other option was rain water harvesting. Fortunately, the city doesn’t have any ordinances against collecting rain water. (In some states, it is illegal to collect rain water.)

After I set up my first rain barrel, it didn’t take me long to realize that one 60-gallon rain barrel didn’t go very far during one of Tidewater’s hot, dry summers. It was a start, but I need more water.

One rain barrel

One solitary rain barrel

The next summer, I added more rain barrels, placing them under a downspout that produced copious amounts of water. The first year, my little rain barrels sat directly on the dirt, and I didn’t use them very much. They were too low, too muddy and the head pressure was abysmal.

Later that year, I built a nice wooden stand for my rain barrels.

Rain

The triplets.

The stand made it much easier to access my rain barrels, plus, the three feet of height gave them a little bit of head pressure, and improved water flow. And the 3-foot stand made it easy to fasten a hose to the spigot (a simple feat that was nearly impossible when the barrels sat on the ground).

Rain barrels have many benefits for many purposes, but they’re ideal for gardening. Chlorinated water - the stuff that flows from the city’s pipes and into our homes - is stuffed silly with chlorination and fluoride, neither of which are good for living things, especially little plants. While chlorination keeps us humans from getting cholera and other nasty bugs, that chlorination will also kill off the microorganisms in the soil that helps plants thrive. (Fluoride is a toxic by-product of the aluminum smelting process, and if it weren’t dumped into our city water supply, the EPA would require that it be treated as hazardous waste!)

But back to rain barrels. There’s a sound financial reason for using rain barrels, too. Experts say that 40% of our summertime water use comes from the outside spigot.

In the process of using these rain barrels throughout the summer, I learned a lot of practical lessons. Below are the top 10 most important things I learned.

1) Height is important. For every foot of height you add to your stand, you’ll gain .43 psi of head pressure. If you could manage a ten-foot stand (not advisable for safety reasons), that’d give you 4.3 psi. From a practical matter, the three-foot stand (pictured above) put the spigot at the perfect height for me. And if you’re working with a raised bed garden (like mine), you’ll need the extra height so that water can flow easily to your thirsty plants.

Raised beds

My raised bed is 24" tall, so the three-foot stand is perfect.

2) Weight is also important. Water weighs about 8.3 pounds per gallon. Those rain barrels hold 60 gallons. That’s 498 pounds per barrel, and I’ve got three on one stand, so that’s almost 1,500 pounds of weight (when the barrels are full). That’s a tremendous amount of weight and you should plan accordingly when building your stands. This summer, when my barrels run dry, I’ll have to pull them down and add cross-bracing to the stands. You’ll note in the picture that they’ve started to lean hard to the left. Cross bracing would have prevented that.

twisty

Let's not twist again, like we did last summer...

3) Placement. My three rain barrels are located in my back yard, underneath a busy downspout. Water comes from the main roof (which is slate), flows down to the smaller roof and into my rain barrel. With 10-15 minutes of a good downpour, all three rain barrels are filled up full.

rain

The downspout on this side of the house produces a lot of rainwater.

4) Pre-screen your rainwater. These rain barrels have a four-inch floor drain in their top, with a piece of mosquito screen affixed. Too many times to count, I’ve rejoiced as a summer storm pours rain from above, only to find that the four-inch hole became hopelessly choked with the debris from the gutters, and very little of that delightful rainwater actually entered my rain barrels. My solution to this was simple. I took the aluminum-framed screen from an old storm window and stuck it on top of the rain barrel. That solved my problem. The large surface area of the aluminum screen allowed water to flow even after that first pile of gunk came washing down the spout.

Pre screen

And it's just an aluminum screen from an old storm window. The brick keeps it in place. My husband said this rig makes it look like Jed Clampett lives here, but it works.

5) If you’re building/making your own rain barrel, put the spigot in the right place. When my neighbor saw my rain barrels, he ran out and bought some materials and made his own barrels. Every single one of his five rain barrels has a spigot at the half-way point on the barrel’s side. This means that he’ll only be able to use 50% of the water in the barrel. Not a good design. There are also entire blogs devoted to building your own rain barrel. The barrels shown here are food-grade olive barrels, used to ship olives here from overseas. Learn more here.

Rain

Spigot placement is important.

6) Don’t get bugged. Mosquitoes are naturally drawn to stagnant water and rain barrels provide the ideal breeding ground. Screens will stop some of that, but not all. One year, I had mosquitoes crawling in through my overflow pipe. Adding several drops of baby oil to each rain barrel will create an oily film in the water, and should stop mosquitoes from laying eggs in your rain barrel.

7) One downside to this rainwater fun is that you’ll now have to keep your gutters cleaned out. If all that precious rainwater is cascading over the front edges of your gutters because the downspouts are blocked, your rain barrels won’t do much for you. And if your house is sheltered by large trees (like mine), this can be a perennial problem.

Trees

Trees are pretty to look at, but hard on gutters.

8) When the barrel runs dry, remember to turn the spigot off. Sounds simple enough, but somehow, it’s so easy to forget this little detail. Many times, I’ve gone outside to check my rain barrels after a hard rain, only to find that I left the spigot open and all that rainwater went in through the top and out through the spigot.

oopsie

It's easy to forget to close the spigot when rain barrels run dry.

9) Maintenance. About once a year, I rinse out the rain barrels with city water. The bottom gets a layer of crud in it and the smell is horrific. I’m not sure about the microbiology of all that decaying matter, and maybe it’s just dandy for the garden, but the stench will knock your socks off.

10) Keep water away from the foundation. A surprising amount of water can be discharged through your overflow pipe. Make sure that water is directed away from the house.

Make sure that water flows away from house.

I keep meaning to put that downspout spillway *under* the overflow hose.

11) Your downspout might not quite hit the sweet spot on the rain barrel. A little extra piece of aluminum downspout is probably the simplest solution. I used a piece of Plexiglas, which also does the job nicely.

Buts

You might need to add a little extender to the downspout to reach your rain barrel.

12) If a drought hits, and you don’t want to use chlorinated water on your lovingly maintained and chlorine-free tomato plants, you can fill one rain barrel with city water and let it sit for several days. The chlorination will dissipate in time and you’ll have chlorine-free water. This isn’t the ideal, but in a pinch, it’s one way to keep your garden chlorine free.

13)  Use a good quality hose, so you don’t go stark-raving mad. A cheap hose will kink repeatedly, and because the pressure is so low on water flowing from a rain-barrel, this kinking problem will be 50 times worse than it would be with city water delivered at 60 psi.

14) Enjoy. I’ve had a lot of fun playing with my rain barrels. And look how my garden grows!

garden

Garden views.

garden

Tomatoes, strawberries and carrots share living space.

wow

And the world's most perfect strawberry, from my garden.

And flowers, too!

And flowers, too!

When we were kids, we’d sing this little ditty.

See, see my playmate,
Come out and play with me
And bring your dollies three
Climb up my apple tree
Holler down my rain barrel
Slide down my cellar door
And we’ll be jolly friends
Forever evermore.

If you’re in Hampton Roads, I highly recommend “Mike’s Rain Barrels.” Mike, the owner of this small business, is knowledgeable, customer-service oriented, friendly and thorough. Best of all, his prices are very affordable. You can contact Mike via email at mminor1959@verizon.net or call (757) 761-1553. The best part - he’ll deliver your rain barrels in his Toyota Priuss.

To read about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

* * *

My Pretty, Pretty Pink House - For Sale!

July 24th, 2011 Sears Homes 3 comments

It’s a grand old house filled with the most modern technologies - and perhaps best of all - it’s priced about $60,000 below the current city assessment.

Even if you’re not in a market for an old house, take a moment and enjoy the photos!

Updated: This blog was created July 24, 2011, and yet this remains one of the most popular blogs at this site. Every day, a couple dozen people come to THIS blog. My beautiful pink house sold (and closed) on August 14, 2011. Every day of my life, I’m profoundly grateful for my “new” house, a 1962 custom-built brick ranch.

To read about the new house, click here.

And please, take a moment and please leave a comment below. What is it about this particular article that you enjoy?  :)

My favorite angle is the side, which shows off those quarter-round windows and new canvas awning.

My favorite angle is the side, which shows off those quarter-round windows and new canvas awning.

3916 Gosnold - from the front.

Dappled afternoon sunlight complements the front of 3916 Gosnold.

The

The gated entrance to my secret garden!

And on the other side of the gate youll find bowers of flowers (blooming in the sun).

And on the other side of the gate you'll find bowers of flowers (blooming in the sun).

Something this old house hasnt seen in a long time - GRASS in the sideyard!

Something this old house hasn't seen in a long time - GRASS in the sideyard! The pergola is pretty nice, too.

My daughter said we didnt have enough views of the inside, so I took some additional photos!

My daughter said we didn't have enough views of the inside, so I took some additional photos! View from the living into the foyer and dining room.

The setting sun illuminates the formal dining room, which measures more than 13 x 17.

The setting sun illuminates the formal dining room, which measures more than 13 x 17.

L

The formal living room is 13 x 23 and is always awash in light.

And the sunporch - one of my favorite rooms in the house!

And the sunporch - one of my favorite rooms in the house! Kinda wish I'd moved that old floor lamp before I took the photo!

View from upstairs - looking into the foyer.

View from upstairs - looking into the foyer.

Another view of the formal staircase

The staircase has solid walnut banister and tapered spindles.

k

Upstairs hallway. Door at the end leads to the third floor.

One of the three upstairs bedrooms.

One of the three upstairs bedrooms. The door leads out to a balcony (over the sunporch).

The bathroom was restored to its original 1920s appearance. Notice the hex tile on the floor.

The bathroom was restored to its original 1920s appearance. Notice the hex tile on the floor.

This old pink house has been faithfully restored to its original splendor, and has a high-efficiency gas boiler (94%+), high-efficiency central air (14 SEER) and a dazzling rainwater harvesting system. Enjoy the best of old-world craftsmanship together with the latest and greatest of modern technology. In short, you’ll have the unique pleasure of living in a beautiful old house with none of the environmental guilt. :)

House is 2,300 square feet with three bedrooms, 1-1/2 baths, with a large sunporch, full third floor and awesome basement.

Price is $287,900 with $4,000 closing cost assistance.

If you’re interested in scheduling an appointment please contact the Realtor.

More photos are below.

To read about Aunt Addie’s murder in Lake Mills, click here.

My old house foyer

The house on Gosnold is a classic Colonial Revival, right down to the details. The image on the left is the entry foyer at Gosnold Avenue. The image on the right is the cover of the book, "Colonial Style." Even the light fixture is the same. The rest of the details are also spot-on. Biggest different is, my rug is not as pretty as theirs.

door

And, we have an original ice box door, too. Back in the 1920s, this door provided access to the back of the icebox, so that the iceman could deliver a 25-pound block of ice to the ice box without entering the home. This was also known as "the jealous husband's door."

fam

The twin grandchildren of the home's builder (William Barnes) sit on the front stoop (mid-1950s). They were born and raised in this house. The home remained in the Barnes' family until 1971, when it was sold to new owners. Laura (on the left) supplied the family photos, which proved invaluable in the home's restoration.

housie

The house at 3916 Gosnold Avenue.

houaiw

Classic lines and high-quality workmanship make this a timeless beauty.

milk

On the back porch is this old "Milk Door," which provided a place for the milkman's deliveries, whether or not anyone was home (and/or awake!). A corresponding door in the pantry enabled the housewife to retrieve deliveries without stepping outside.

kitchen

The house has 32 windows, and 7 of them are in the kitchen. One of my favorite features in the kitchen are these many beautiful windows. The gas stove (left) is less than 30 days old. The dishwasher and fridge (both stainless steel) were new in March 2007.

ki

This spacious kitchen was remodeled in Spring 2007.

ki

The gas stove was installed less than a month ago. Still shiny new!

kitchen

Really big refrigerator does everything but serve you buttered toast in the morning.

living

The living room is awash in light with a western and eastern and southern exposure. The living room is 25 feet long and 13 feet wide.

dining room

The spacious dining room has four windows (six feet tall!) and has beautiful oak floors.

Entry foyer

Visitors to our home frequently comment on the beautiful foyer.

room

Original french doors to the living room and dining room are still in place.

And did you notice those shiny doorknobs on the french doors!

And did you notice those shiny doorknobs on the french doors!

En

A view from the staircase.

house

Another view of the foyer.

rain

The house is also a gardener's delight, with provisions to collect and store more than 200 gallons of rain water.

garden

Your own private farm awaits: Tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, zucchini, strawberries, carrots and lettuce will be ready for harvest in about 30 days.

y

Hubby does not convey. Usually.

Another view

Flowers in full bloom.

wow

And the world's most perfect strawberry, from my garden.

Finis!

Carrerra marble under radiator and toilet complement the hex flooring. Work was done in Spring 2010.

Bathroom pretty

Bathroom was restored to its original 1920s appearance.

House

This 1930s vintage thermostat works beautifully, controlling a 2011 high efficiency gas boiler.

New-old stock from eBay. Vintage doorbell installed in 2008, and it has a beautiful chime!

It's the little things that make an old house a special home. Vintage doorbell installed in 2008, and it has a beautiful chime!

view

Front entry foyer is 11 feet wide and 25 feet long.

Its done!

Spacious sunporch has built-in bookcases that are 9-feet tall.

attic

Even the attic is spacious and grand! And with a little back-lighting, these windows can scare the beejeebies out of the trick or treaters on Halloween night! If you look up, you'll see collar beams on all of the roof joists. The house is topped with Buckingham Slate (recently restored), which weighs 1,400 pounds per square (100 square feet).

House

Little house (address is 3916-1/2) has a floored attic, vintage windows and slate roof.

housie

Another view of the little house.

uniquely large yard for Colonial Place

Private, off-street parking and a uniquely large yard for Colonial Place make 3916 Gosnold Avenue a quiet oasis amidst a sea of classic old houses.

Street view

View from the street.

Sideyard summertime view

Sideyard summertime view.

Another view

Another view of the pergola. Dog does not convey.

Another view of the pergola

Teddy the Dog wants to know if the new house will also have a dog swing like this one.

17 Really Good Reasons to Buy The Big Pink House

1) Low electric bills - average budget bill of $115/month (and we love our air conditioning!).

2) High-efficiency central air (14 SEER) with all new ductwork, and electrostatic air cleaner (installed October 2007).

3) High efficiency, top-of-the-line gas-fired boiler (94% efficient) installed March 2011.

4) Thorough restoration of original (Buckingham Slate) roof, with new copper flashing and copper cap at roof ridge. Roof repairs will be required again in 2085 (or so). (About 25% of all the construction debris found in landfills is roofing materials. Slate is the “greenest” roof in the world and with occasional maintenance, it can last forever.)

5) Seamless 6-inch (extra large) aluminum gutters and downspouts.

6) No worries about old plumbing! Entire house replumbed with new copper lines in 2007.

7) Electrical service updated (some new wiring and new panel) in Spring 2007.

8) Fresh paint, too! Two coats of Sherwin Williams Duration (25-year warranty) cover the home’s cypress clapboards.

9) Eleven new high-end replacement windows have been installed within the last two years. Windows on home’s front are original (to preserve architectural integrity).

10) “Move-in ready” for your favorite quadruped! Custom-built picket fence surrounds peaceful back yard.

11) Who doesn’t love a little house, especially one with a slate roof? “3916-1/2 Gosnold” is a custom-built “mini-house” with a 9′ ceiling, floored attic, built-in ladder and vintage windows.

12) When it’s time for the morning’s ablutions, step into the bath and back in time. Faithfully restored second-floor bath features porcelain sconces, vintage medicine chest, and a Kohler Memoirs sink, sitting atop a restored hex floor. Also has elegant wainscoting, Danze high-end faucets and solid brass vintage towel rack.

13) Modern kitchen is full of light with seven large windows, stainless steel appliances and a brand new Kenmore gas range (May 2011).

14) Harvest Time is nearly here! Tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, strawberries, zucchini and flowers thrive in three separate raised bed gardens in spacious back yard.

15) Handy rain-water harvesting system already in place for those thirsty plants, with more than 200 gallons of available storage.

16) Bibliophiles delight! Built-in bookcase on sunporch is more than 9′ tall and 6′ wide, with 27 sturdy shelves.

17) The house was custom built in 1925 by William Barnes, owner of one of Norfolk’s largest lumber yards. His grandchildren recall that he hand-selected every piece of framing lumber that went into the house. And it shows.

To schedule an appointment, leave a comment below or contact the Realtor.

* * *

A Beautiful House from a Beautiful Time - OPEN on Sunday, July 17, 2011

July 17th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

About two years ago, I was organizing my collection of DVDs when I noticed a frighteningly consistent theme.

Somewhere in Time (Christopher Reeve)

The Final Countdown (Kirk Douglas)

Frequency (Dennis Quaid)

Peggy Sue Got Married (Nicholas Cage)

Field of Dreams (Kevin Kostner)

Back to the Future (Michael J. Fox)

Did you figure it out? They’re all about traveling back in time. Half-jokingly, I tell people I’m only biding my time here until the smart people figure out how to travel in time, so I can get back to where I belong: the 1920s. As someone who loves history, I really am in love with that time in America’s past.

I don’t love the 1920s because that’s when Sears Homes were all the rage; I love Sears Homes because they were offered during the 1920s. In order to write, “The Houses That Sears Built,” I spent four years immersed in the periodical literature of that time. I read - literally - tens of thousands of pages of magazines and newspapers of the 1910s and 20s.

And that’s why, when I first saw 3916 Gosnold Avenue, my emotions took over and my old Realtor training fell off the cliff and I grabbed my husband by the lapels and told him that I *had* to have this house. (That’s actually a true story.) The house was built in 1925. Somehow I felt that if I could just get into this house, I’d be one step closer to getting back to where I was meant to be: 1925.

That was 4-1/2 years ago. Now - having lived in this house for 4+ years, the practical realities have set in, and both my husband and I long to find a place on one level, with gutters than can be accessed with a step ladder, and exterior paint jobs that can be done in a couple weekends, rather than several months. We’re ready to simplify, simplify, simply (as Henry David Thoreau once said), and the best way to simplify our housing is to downsize.

Today, Sunday (July 17th) we’re having an open house. Even if you’re not in the market for a big beautiful old house, it’s a grand opportunity to come inside and see the color of obsession. Everything we’ve done to this house has been done with love, precision and a deep abiding love of history. That, plus passion, makes for a most excellent restoration job.

Enjoy the photos, and please stop by if you’re out and about. It really is a gorgeous old house.

Now, about the house.

It’s has been faithfully restored to its original splendor, and has a high-efficiency gas boiler (94%+), high-efficiency central air (14 SEER) and a dazzling rainwater harvesting system. Enjoy the best of old-world craftsmanship together with the latest and greatest of modern technology. In short, you’ll have the unique pleasure of living in a beautiful old house with none of the environmental guilt. :)

Mr. Realtor will be here from 12-3 pm on Sunday, July 17th at 3916 Gosnold Avenue.

It’s 2,300 square feet with three bedrooms, 1-1/2 baths, with a large sunporch, full third floor and awesome basement.

Asking price is $287,900, which is $58,000+ below city assessment, with $4,000 of closing cost assistance. If you’re interested in scheduling an appointment please contact the Realtor.

Old

Please come on in.

Its a grand old house.

It's a grand old house. Notice the copper flashing up there? All new last year, and with a serviceable life of more than 75 years, that slate roof will last a long time.

Old Mr. Barnes loved to sit in the backyard, admiring the house that he built. He was part owner of Etheridge Lumber in downtown Norfolk, and the story is, he hand-selected all the framing members that went into the house.

Old Mr. Barnes (William Barnes) loved to sit in the backyard, admiring the house that he built in 1925. He was part owner of Etheridge Lumber in downtown Norfolk, and the story is, he hand-selected all the framing members that went into the house. His son and grandchildren lived in this house until 1971. Mr. Barnes died in the house in the 1940s. There's so much that's right and good about an old man passing away in the house that he built, surrounded by his family, comfortable in his own bed.

,

The next generation of Barnes' enjoying the house that Grandfather built. This is Ed and Laura Barnes with their father (William Barnes' son) on the front porch.

K

Laura and Ed Barnes (seated) and an unknown neighbor kid play on his awesome fire truck in the back yard.

The Barnes family (Mom and the twins) line up on the staircase in Gosnold.

The Barnes' family (Mom and the twins) line up on the staircase in Gosnold.

phoo

A picture of the house (done by Kay Gillespie) hangs alongside that same staircase wall.

My old house foyer

The house on Gosnold is a classic Colonial Revival, right down to the details. The image on the left is the entry foyer at Gosnold Avenue. The image on the right is the cover of the book, "Colonial Style." Even the light fixture is the same. The rest of the details are also spot-on. Biggest different is, my rug is not as pretty as theirs.

door

And, we have an original ice box door, too. Back in the 1920s, this door provided access to the back of the icebox, so that the iceman could deliver a 25-pound block of ice to the ice box without entering the home. This was also known as "the jealous husband's door."

fam

The twin grandchildren of the home's builder (William Barnes) sit on the front stoop (mid-1950s). They were born and raised in this house. The home remained in the Barnes' family until 1971, when it was sold to new owners. Laura (on the left) supplied the family photos, which proved invaluable in the home's restoration.

housie

The house at 3916 Gosnold Avenue.

houaiw

Classic lines and high-quality workmanship make this a timeless beauty.

milk

On the back porch is this old "Milk Door," which provided a place for the milkman's deliveries, whether or not anyone was home (and/or awake!). A corresponding door in the pantry enabled the housewife to retrieve deliveries without stepping outside.

kitchen

The house has 32 windows, and 7 of them are in the kitchen. One of my favorite features in the kitchen are these many beautiful windows. The gas stove (left) is less than 30 days old. The dishwasher and fridge (both stainless steel) were new in March 2007.

ki

This spacious kitchen was remodeled in Spring 2007.

ki

The gas stove was installed less than a month ago. Still shiny new!

kitchen

Really big refrigerator does everything but serve you buttered toast in the morning.

living

The living room is awash in light with a western and eastern and southern exposure. The living room is 25 feet long and 13 feet wide.

dining room

The spacious dining room has four windows (six feet tall!) and has beautiful oak floors.

Entry foyer

Visitors to our home frequently comment on the beautiful foyer.

room

Original french doors to the living room and dining room are still in place.

And did you notice those shiny doorknobs on the french doors!

And did you notice those shiny doorknobs on the french doors!

En

A view from the staircase.

house

Another view of the foyer.

rain

The house is also a gardener's delight, with provisions to collect and store more than 200 gallons of rain water.

garden

Your own private farm awaits: Tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, zucchini, strawberries, carrots and lettuce will be ready for harvest in about 30 days.

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Hubby does not convey. Usually.

Another view

Flowers in full bloom.

wow

And the world's most perfect strawberry, from my garden.

Finis!

Carrerra marble under radiator and toilet complement the hex flooring. Work was done in Spring 2010.

Bathroom pretty

Bathroom was restored to its original 1920s appearance.

House

This 1930s vintage thermostat works beautifully, controlling a 2011 high efficiency gas boiler.

New-old stock from eBay. Vintage doorbell installed in 2008, and it has a beautiful chime!

It's the little things that make an old house a special home. Vintage doorbell installed in 2008, and it has a beautiful chime!

view

Front entry foyer is 11 feet wide and 25 feet long.

Its done!

Spacious sunporch has built-in bookcases that are 9-feet tall.

attic

Even the attic is spacious and grand! And with a little back-lighting, these windows can scare the beejeebies out of the trick or treaters on Halloween night! If you look up, you'll see collar beams on all of the roof joists. The house is topped with Buckingham Slate (recently restored), which weighs 1,400 pounds per square (100 square feet).

House

Little house (address is 3916-1/2) has a floored attic, vintage windows and slate roof.

housie

Another view of the little house.

uniquely large yard for Colonial Place

Private, off-street parking and a uniquely large yard for Colonial Place make 3916 Gosnold Avenue a quiet oasis amidst a sea of classic old houses.

Street view

View from the street.

Sideyard summertime view

Sideyard summertime view.

And I saved the best for last: The Perfect Pergola

Picture yourself in this swing! Feels delightful, doesn't it?

Another view

Another view of the pergola. Dog does not convey.

Another view of the pergola

Teddy the Dog wants to know if the new house will also have a dog swing like this one.

17 Really Good Reasons to Buy The Big Pink House

1) Low electric bills - average budget bill of $115/month (and we love our air conditioning!).

2) High-efficiency central air (14 SEER) with all new ductwork, and electrostatic air cleaner (installed October 2007).

3) High efficiency, top-of-the-line gas-fired boiler (94% efficient) installed March 2011.

4) Thorough restoration of original (Buckingham Slate) roof, with new copper flashing and copper cap at roof ridge. Roof repairs will be required again in 2085 (or so). (About 25% of all the construction debris found in landfills is roofing materials. Slate is the “greenest” roof in the world and with occasional maintenance, it can last forever.)

5) Seamless 6-inch (extra large) aluminum gutters and downspouts.

6) No worries about old plumbing! Entire house replumbed with new copper lines in 2007.

7) Electrical service updated (some new wiring and new panel) in Spring 2007.

8) Fresh paint, too! Two coats of Sherwin Williams Duration (25-year warranty) cover the home’s cypress clapboards.

9) Eleven new high-end replacement windows have been installed within the last two years. Windows on home’s front are original (to preserve architectural integrity).

10) “Move-in ready” for your favorite quadruped! Custom-built picket fence surrounds peaceful back yard.

11) Who doesn’t love a little house, especially one with a slate roof? “3916-1/2 Gosnold” is a custom-built “mini-house” with a 9′ ceiling, floored attic, built-in ladder and vintage windows.

12) When it’s time for the morning’s ablutions, step into the bath and back in time. Faithfully restored second-floor bath features porcelain sconces, vintage medicine chest, and a Kohler Memoirs sink, sitting atop a restored hex floor. Also has elegant wainscoting, Danze high-end faucets and solid brass vintage towel rack.

13) Modern kitchen is full of light with seven large windows, stainless steel appliances and a brand new Kenmore gas range (May 2011).

14) Harvest Time is nearly here! Tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, strawberries, zucchini and flowers thrive in three separate raised bed gardens in spacious back yard.

15) Handy rain-water harvesting system already in place for those thirsty plants, with more than 200 gallons of available storage.

16) Bibliophiles delight! Built-in bookcase on sunporch is more than 9′ tall and 6′ wide, with 27 sturdy shelves.

17) The house was custom built in 1925 by William Barnes, owner of one of Norfolk’s largest lumber yards. His grandchildren recall that he hand-selected every piece of framing lumber that went into the house. And it shows.

To schedule an appointment, leave a comment below or contact the Realtor.

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