Monday, November 23, 2009

The Evolution of Our Old House

I was telling my husband this morning that I will probably have more house-related blog posts as winter progresses.  I know this is primarily a garden blog, but it seems impossible (and out of perspective) to separate the progress and happenings in the garden from our renovations of this house.  In fact, there are many garden visitors that would rather sit and hear about the history of our house and all the work we done instead of talking roses.

This morning, as a point of background and introduction, I will combine all the old photos I have of this place (generously given to me by former owners and/or their relatives) with some of my favorites that I have taken.  It's been quite a metamorphosis ... and there's still a lot more to come.

This is the oldest photo we have of our house.  We are guessing that this was some time around 1930, because we know which family lived here at the time it was taken.  The sidelights and transom show their original configuration ... divided lights with wooden muntins.

This photo is later, but I'm not sure exactly how much later.  The transom and sidelights have been changed to leaded glass (as they still are today).  There's a hedge out front, and ivy is beginning to cover the facade.

This photo was taken in 1958.  The shrubs and hedge are more mature, and the ivy is beginning to take over.  The wooden front steps are now brick.  This is probably my favorite photo of the house, because it shows a sense of grace that's hard to explain.  In the future, as we put together the cosmetic portions of our restoration, I want to recapture this feeling ... minus the ivy.

There was a large addition built onto the back of our house in 1967-68.  In the process, all of the original Gothic gingerbread trim (and the dormer) were removed to simplify the house into a more Colonial style.  Notice that the window above the front porch is now a set of narrow French doors.  There are now two porch posts, instead of the original four.

It's now 1976.  The hedge has been removed, and the brick walkway is grown over.  Notice how the patch in the roof where the dormer was is peeling.

This photo was taken in the 1980's, for a real estate brochure when the house was for sale.

This is the first photo I took, as I got out of the car to take a real estate tour in July of 2002.  (I have lots of interior photos from this day, that I'll share as part of before-and-after posts of our interior renovations.  Some of them will make your hair stand on end.)  This newest hedge is Burford holly, there are foam corner brackets on the porch, and the brick walk has completely disappeared.

I saw this view of the house one afternoon in 2004, in my side-view mirror as I drove out of the driveway.  I loved how the house appears to be cradled by trees, and the picnic table added a nice element to the foreground.  You can almost see the new standing seam roof that we had installed earlier in the year.

This was our Christmas card picture from 2005.  Notice that there are 4 x 4's holding up the porch.  The porch is new, and we hadn't decided what to do about the posts.  The tapered posts seen in the earlier photos were not the originals, and they were rotten beyond saving.  We still haven't decided on the design of the replacement ... but we are definitely going with the original 4-post configuration.  I have some salvaged tapered round columns that might be super.

There is still a LOT of work left to do to make this place show well.  Up until now, we have been concerned about things like rot and roofing, and paint, and have left the fun decorative details to do later.  I hope to be able to tell about some progress on this real soon.

(written by Hartwood Roses.  Hartwood Roses blog)


  1. Wow, what a beautiful and unique home. You're so lucky to have those pictures!

  2. I truly enjoyed reading this post, (viewing the photos!) Wow, what a beautiful house you have been blessed with. I'm sure there's a lot of work and $$ money involved, but I know you will love every project as it finishes...
    Keep posting. I am going to watch for your link!

  3. Connie,

    I have enjoyed your site so much since I first found it! What you've done to Hartwood Manor is amazing from house to gardens. That photo from 1976 brings back soooo many memories, it seems like yesterday sitting on the porch. Keep up the wonderful work, it shows how much you enjoy your home and garden. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

    Ron Scanlan

  4. Thanks, Everyone. I have loved this house since I first set eyes on it in 1992, and I am thankful every day that I am blessed to wake up here each morning.

    From time to time (hopefully weekly) I will share some of our accomplishments (and disappointments) as we continue on our Old House journey. I think I might do the office next ....


  5. What a beautiful old home and yard! I look forward to keeping up with your progress.

    I do not have previous photos of our house, wish I did! You are lucky to have such a historical time line with your photos!

  6. How fantastic to have such photographic history of your house. I am hooked now. I will be watching how your house develops. It looks like such a beautiful home. In fact I am going to look in your blog archive right now!

  7. Your house is my dream house. Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. You suggested I spray paint my hardware. What color are you thinking?

  8. I am beyond thrilled that you left a comment on my blog today so I could follow the trail back here to your home.
    I love all the photos and the photographic journey through the years. How exciting to own this grand old home. She is a beauty!
    I am mad for architecture and you have such a lovely piece of it here.
    I am excited to learn more about your rose business and your gardens too!

    Your newest follower,

  9. The perfect holiday card photo! It is at once stately and charming.

  10. Your home is beautiful! I love old houses because the have so much character and history! My husband and I recently bought an old farmhouse. It is 110 years old this year! I am planning to add our home onto my blog very soon. We are always busy making the space our own. Thanks for sharing your photos!

  11. I wonder why they took the dormer out?

  12. what an interest post, and photos.
    Thank you for this.
    We live in an old house (the "new part was built in 1870) and we love it.
    It plays a prominent role in my book A Good Home: A Memoir.
    and it shows up in my blog at

    So when I say I LOVED your post - and am glad you shared it with us - I hope you get my drift!


Thanks for stopping by and reading what I share. Comments are welcome and very much appreciated. Spam and trolls are not!

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