Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This Old House

If you've never owned an old house (100 years or more), you probably have no idea what it's like. They are beautiful, interesting, and historic, yes. But, they also require constant and close attention and upkeep. It's an old house...Right? No one really knows who did the work on it..........the rehab, the repairs, the upgrading. Or, how well it was taken care of. Upon buying an old house you can, of course, completely restore it, including all the electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling, etc., but that is pretty pricey. And the days of finding one, in a decent location, cheap enough to off-set all the expense of restoring are pretty much over.

My house was built in 1882. It's a beautiful, 4028 square foot, Victorian, 3-story brick building with 5 bedrooms and 4 baths. I bought it nearly 15 years ago and turned it into a bed and breakfast, It is situated in the 3rd largest preservation area in the US, making it a part of America's history. I had never owned a historic home before and had no idea what I was getting myself into. Not that I have ever been sorry. I love my house, every original nook and cranny of it. But, I didn't know it would need constant attention, in order to keep it in tip top shape. Now, I am ecstatic if I get through a year with no mishaps.

I've lived though the collapse of my parlor ceiling, the cracking of water pipes which sent water trickling down out of the light fixture over my kitchen worktable, while preparing breakfast for guests, and the explosion of 7 feet of water out my water heater onto my basement floor, causing the furnace to go out in January. These are just a few situations; there have been more. Remember, if you haven't replaced all the major systems, pipes, structures, and tanks, those systems, pipes, structures, and tanks might be "ancient." I couldn't afford to do so, when I moved in, so I am having to attend to them, one at a time, as life and the B&B go on.

So, this brings me to today. We have been having severe snow and ice storms for the past 3 days. One day of snow (6-7 inches), one day of ice and sleet, and a 3rd day of more snow. How has this affected my beautiful, old historic home? Well, first of all, the strong winds and ice tore away some of the roof. This sent icy water dripping down onto my 3rd floor storeroom floor (unbeknown to me), where the carpet soaked it up and dripped it down onto the second floor ceiling. The ceiling swelled and threatened to explode water all over the back hall. Knowing what to do, I poked a hole in the middle of the swelling to let the accumulated water out. Down it came in an avalanche of dirty icy liquid....all over me and the floor. I thought I was prepared, with my pails and old bath towels, but I expected it to drip out, not rush out! Finally, I situated two large containers under two different drips and went to bed, totally unaware of the leak in the 3rd floor storeroom.

Next morning, it dawned on me that this leak wasn't coming from a pipe on the second floor; it had to have originated from the 3rd floor above, where the storeroom was . I checked the storeroom and found I was right. I placed the containers under the 3rd floor leaks, which stopped the 2nd floor leaks, and called my maintenance man at 6:30 am! He lives in the neighborhood, so he was there in a flash. (Love this guy, Richard). He confirmed my suspicions, but said, because of the ice storm, it would be too dangerous to get up on the roof, until Saturday, after the storms receded.

So I'm living with the dripping ........... and the shhhhing sound of huge branches falling from my beautiful, old Magnolia tree; branches heavy laden with ice and snow, falling one by one across the old icy, snowy front walk leading to my beautiful, old house. And here I sit, writing on my blog, away from the storm, warm, cozy, and quiet, except for the constant dripping from the ceiling in my storeroom.


  1. What a great story!

  2. Thanks for the comment. Come back again. There'll be plenty more stories and recipes too.

  3. What a terrible misfortune! You can fix the leaks, but can't replace the old magnolia.

  4. Thanks for the comment. Yeah, you're right about my tree. It's so beautiful in the spring. I'm just hoping it's not so terribly damaged that we have to uproot it. There are trees and branches down all over "Old Louisville"...such a shame!