Saturday, June 24, 2006

More On The Other Petch House

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I had found the house that The Petch Family lived in just prior to them moving in to my Petch House. Well, today I was driving to the hardware store (I know, I didn’t rest 4 days like I said I was going to) and I passed by the house, which was odd because I rarely take that route to the hardware store. I had been out earlier and someone parked on the street in front of my house where I normally park. When I got home I parked across the street which meant my truck was facing the opposite direction. Not that you asked, but that’s why I took a different route to the hardware store.

Anyway, I’m driving down J Street and the owner of the old Petch House is having a garage sale. SCREEECH! I stopped. When I walked up there were 3 people out front. There were 2 men in their mid to late 60s and a woman of a similar age. They were all engaged in a conversation and I wasn’t sure which one was the owner. I poked around at the tables of stuff being offered – nothing looked too interesting – and waited to see who would leave before I introduced myself. After only a minute or so one man and the woman walked off and the process of elimination had worked it’s magic once again and the sole remaining man was undoubtedly the owner. I introduced myself.

The house, you’ll recall, is an 1887 Eastlake Cottage with copious amounts of gingerbread. The picture I took does not do it justice. The front porch just oozes charm. It even had what appeared to be the original Eastlake front door hardware with two skeleton key holes. It has all original windows, and just trim work up the waa-zoo. The house is obviously very well cared for, although I must admit I’m not a fan of the multi-toned purple paint job. There is also a clock in the attic gable. This was most likely a small round window at some time but there is now a round clock face instead. Nit-picking aside, that house looks great.

As I said, the owner is in his mid 60s and looks very conservative. His look is fairly typical for men his age in this city. He would fit in perfectly down at one of the saw mills or the barber shop on the corner. There was a relatively new and very large pickup truck parked in the driveway and the yard was neatly trimmed. Considering the way a lot of the old-timers in this town view “those old houses” I wasn’t sure what to expect from him. I half expected him to go on and on about how the house was an old piece of junk and he couldn’t wait to move into a double-wide someplace.

I started by just saying that the people who first moved in to my 1895 house lived in his house first. He didn’t really say much. I think may have I gotten a very solemn “Really?”. I think he was trying to decide if I was playing an angle or something. It is kind of an odd way to start a conversation, I guess. I continued anyway. “Yea, the people who bought my house in 1895 lived here first”. He warmed up a little bit and asked a few questions. As you all know, I’m not short of words when talking about my house but I decided not to overwhelm him with a 10 minute monologue on the Petch family and my house. I kept it short and gave him just basic information. I of course complimented him on his house and that’s when he opened up.

He went on to tell me that his parents bought the home in 1939 for $1,100. He told me he was born in the house. I’m still not sure if he meant he was actually born in the house, which is quite possible, or if he meant this is where his family lived when he was born. Regardless, the really interesting part came next. He told me in the 1950s his dad stripped off most of the gingerbread below the frieze and put asbestos siding on the house and covered the skirting with fake brick. Most of the gingerbread on the house that is there now has been replaced by him over the last 20 years. He stripped off all the asbestos siding and has been restoring the house himself! Sound familiar?

We had a great conversation as we alternated between bashing new construction techniques and extolling the virtues of antique houses made of old growth redwood. This guy was totally in to it. He asked again which house was mine and I gave him the street corner (we are only about 5 blocks away from each other) and he said, “The blue one”. I said, “No, one block down”. Then he replied, “Oh, the big one with the weird brown and green paint job”. That was my queue to tell him more about my house, which I happily did. It was kind of a neat experience to meet him. I think I got more out of it than he did, but that’s OK. It was nice to meet someone who was born and raised in this town that doesn’t hate “those old houses”. Not that all the old-timers feel that way, but sometimes it sure seems like it.

1 comment:

SmilingJudy said...

Very cool. Sometimes things happen for a reason.