You know you're an old house owner if ...

A meeting place for regulars to discuss the lighter side of old-houses.

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Postby kristen russell on Tue Apr 13, 2004 3:58 pm

I remember reading about the renovation of an abandoned villa in Frances Mayes' Under the Tuscan Sun. Particularly the author waxing her "new" inherited furniture with beeswax. ;-)
kristen russell
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Postby Guest on Tue Apr 13, 2004 4:36 pm

There was also the PBS series "1900 House". If you really want to know what it was like to live at the turn of the century that is a great series. They also did "The Manor House" about Edwardian England, "The Frontier House" about frontier settlers in the US, and starting next month is "Colonial House" set in Colonial times in the US.

For anyone who hasn't seen any of these they are "Reality TV" PBS style. They take a house or group of houses and make them period accurate down to the last detail. They then take a group of modern people and strip them of all of there modern conveniences. They put the two together and watch as it unfolds. The series is usually 4 to 6, 2 hour episodes filmed over 3 months. In the "1900 House" they were not only required to live in a 1900 house but they even arranged for local merchants to carry stocks of items that would only be available to people in the year 1900. Really good TV.

I think Colonial House starts the second week on May.


Postby catya on Tue Apr 13, 2004 6:25 pm

Yes, I saw Frontier House--I didn't know there were more in the series, that's great. It really left an impression. What got me was how every one of them, even the teenagers who at first had rebelled against having to be there, grieved when it was over, having to go back to their old lives. There was something about being so dependent for survival on their families and neighbors that was soul-nourishing in a way that our lonely modern lives just don't give us. They found they didn't need all that material STUFF.

Postby Guest on Tue Apr 13, 2004 11:31 pm

Haha.....when you leave your front drapes open so that other old house junkies that are driving by and looking in will see your new dining room lamp :-)

Postby Guest on Tue Apr 13, 2004 11:55 pm

I'd love to get copies of the pbs house series...gonna go check out the website. I loved dreaming in the dust,a great book. I've read quite a few books of this type; I seem to find them in the memoir section at my library. I'll try to pull together a list......

Postby charaty on Wed Apr 14, 2004 12:03 am

I keep forgetting to log in, I was a member last year but had to reregister this week....

PBS offers a 7 dvd set- Manor house, Frontier House, 1900 house and 1940's house for 149.92.

I know what I want for Mother's day....if I can wait that long!!!

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Postby Guest on Wed Apr 14, 2004 5:34 pm

I forgot about "1940 House". That one was intersting because it took place during WWII. It was intersting to see what the Brits went through with rationing, black-outs, and digging a bomb shelter. All of these were very, very good. The Manor house was one of the more intersting ones becuase of the dynamics between Master and Servants in the UK in 1911. It was just before everything went to hell in WWI. I have to say, though, that I liked "1900 House" the best. It was the first one and so you really didn't know what was going to happen. At least in my area they re-run the different series on a regular basis.


Postby Bridget on Wed Apr 14, 2004 7:46 pm

I totally missed 1900 house, I have seen all of the others & thoroughly enjoyed them, how did I miss that one....will have to try & see it. I loved the dynamic between the different families on Frontier house, you have to winder if petty fights like that erupted even back in the "old days". It was really cool to see how the kids changed over the months, very sad in the end. I really liked those shows...
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Postby Guest on Thu Apr 29, 2004 5:34 pm

sharonk wrote:While we're at it, I wonder if anyone knows of any novels where the old house or the renovation plays a part.
There was a woman who wrote a book about the renovation of their Victorian house called Dreaming in the Dust.

I seem to recall a children's book where the father moves them out to the country so he can renovate "a folly"...I think the young heroine's name was Katie John.

Needless to say, I am always on the lookout for novels on these topics...

I think that I fell in love with the concept of Old House Restoration when I read "Gone-Away Lake" and "Return to Gone-Away" by Elizabeth Enright. They're juvenile novels, probably set somewhere in the NorthEast US, probably mid-late Sixties. Two kids wander into a late-Victorian lakeside resort (the lake had 'gone away' from unrevealed causes, but I suspect some weasle developer built a dam or changed a watercourse). They meet two old people who had lived there as children, and returned to finish out their days. Eventually, the kids convince their parents to buy the "Villa Caprice", the summer home of Mrs Brace-Gideon, which had been closed up for the winter. Mrs. B-G never came back, and the house had sat sealed up tight for 75 or 80 years. "Return" is the story of that house restoration. They find Limoges china in the kitchen, fascinating books in the library, tons of unfashionable furniture in the attic (the Hepplewhite breakfront in the attic pays for the new piping, the Chippendale highboy pays for the new wiring). There's a Turkish cozy corner, a newel post with a gilded cast iron statuesque light fixture, and.... wow, I guess I remember more of that story than I thought.

French Park, Santa Ana

...and they do find the safe with Mrs B-G's jewelry-- but I'm not going to tell you where. Go order the books from your library or on eBay or Amazon; they're really enjoyable.

Postby sharonk on Wed May 05, 2004 2:06 pm

I will definitely look up that book! Thanks!


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