If Walls Could Talk
A Houses' Story
Dedicated to all those who preserve our countries' historic structures and to the Velvet Rose.
I am built. The year is 1885. I know I must be special as I am named for royalty, Queen Anne. For several months men have worked tirelessly constructing my lath and plaster walls, porch balusters, roof line, and fretwork. Horse-hair plaster is being smoothed on my interior walls while handcrafted mantels and fretwork grace my rooms. Stained glass windows have been installed in the gaping holes that once left my insides exposed. Colorful tiles frame my fireplace openings. Gasoliers and heart pine floors are going in as well.
My exterior is painted a beautiful pale green with accents of burgundy, ivory, and mauve. Scrolling lines and cornices edge my porches and shingled gray roof. A solid oak door with stained glass insert and transoms add sparkle to my facade.
My entry hall is exquisite. A crown of fretwork embellishes the ceiling between my entry and back hallways. Rose bedecked wallpaper cover the walls in a garden of blooms whilst light shines like the sun from the gasolier overhead. An elaborate oak staircase leads to my upstairs. A large stained glass window at the first landing sends slivers of colored light across the newly polished floors.
The front parlor is even more refined. Velvet curtains with fringe and tassels border the bay window. A carved oak mantel crowned with beveled mirror and shelves encases deep blue encaustic tiles which spill out onto the floor in a semi-circle. Dental and rope moldings complete the ambience.
But the dining room mantel tops them all! Two playful cherubs support the curved mantel shelf while the gold fireplace tiles sparkle in the gleam of candlelight from the crystal chandelier above. Gold damask wall coverings and carved moldings make this a welcome room for dining.
The upstairs is no less grand with colorful wall coverings, heart pine floors, and detailed moldings in abundance.
I am beautiful!
My family moves in and fills me with beautiful furnishings. I recognize the tall gentleman as the one who created all of my fine-looking scrollwork throughout. Mahogany tables with marble tops, velvet covered settees, chairs of fine silk damask, and oriental rugs complete my loveliness.
People always come to see me. Sometimes they stay for tea in the parlor or wonderful dinners in the dining room. These are exciting days!
In spring the lady of the house works diligently planting roses, lavender, and lilies all about the yard. Lacy green ferns dangle from my porches. The large oak tree out front is home to birds and squirrels and a swing for the children who squeal with delight as they swing to and fro. Jasmine creeps across my white picket fence.
Christmas time brings much joy and warmth for my family. I am decorated with garlands and fruits. A large Christmas tree is laden with gingerbread and strings of cranberries. Even Santa admires the beauty and love within my walls. Feasting on roast fowl, bread pudding, and other delicacies everyone who comes for Christmas dinner appreciates me.
I am beautiful and I am loved. Life is happy!
My family continues to grow and to change. Children grow larger and parents get grayer. But all are still joyful. Guests still come for tea or dinner. My grandeur is still spoken of even though my wallpaper is beginning to fade and my porch sags ever so slightly. The gentleman tells the lady weekly that he will fix the leak in my roof but he never does. The children seem to be gone more than they are at home.
But still I am beautiful and I am loved!
The children have moved away and the parents are older now. The lady of the house no longer gardens as she once did and the roses are overrun with weeds. Fern pots dangle empty from my porch rafters. Wicker rockers sway as the wind blows against my siding. The hole in my roof has yet to be repaired and the back door hinge is loose too. People rarely come to see me anymore. My colorful paint is beginning to peel exposing the pale wood grain below. Termites visit more than the butterflies. The children, now adults, complain to their parents about the ‘old run down’ house when visiting. I don’t know what house they are speaking of, I know it cannot be me. After all, I am named after a queen, I am special.
Besides, I am beautiful and loved. Aren’t I?
One day I am empty. The lady and gentleman are gone and the children don’t visit anymore. In fact, no one visits me anymore. My roof has many holes which leak terribly when the rain falls. My wallpaper is peeling and my floorboards are warped and rotting. The back door now hangs from its hinges while my porch continues to sag. I am tired and alone.
I am no longer beautiful and no longer loved. Life is sad.
Several years have passed. One day some people come to visit. I try to look strong and welcoming but I am weary from years of neglect. People walk through me complaining about how cold I am and how my floors are not level and creak too loudly. The wallpaper is a mess and the gasoliers no longer work. But still they want me.
Men come tearing off what’s left of my wallpaper. They paint my walls and build new ones. They install plumbing, electric, and bathrooms. They paint my exterior white and patch my leaking roof.
I am not beautiful but maybe I am loved again. Life is alright.
Several families move in. They all live in different rooms and I frequently hear them say ‘apartment’. Some are happy, some are angry, and some are sad. I provide shelter but nothing else. They come and go and never notice me. Many move in and many move out.
I am not beautiful and I am not loved. Life is sad.
Years pass and I am alone again. People call me ugly. Strangers walk past throwing rocks at my windows. My porch stairs have rotted and large holes in my roof have caused much damage from the rain. Squirrels and raccoons now sleep within my walls. Weeds and thickets cover my yard where roses and lavender once grew. Nobody comes to see me anymore.
I am ugly and I am despised. Life is over.
I can barely stand now. My walls are weak and my roof is in shambles. I hear people pass by saying ‘demolish it.’
One day a young woman and gentleman visit. They stare at me shaking their heads. “I love it” she says. “I think we can save her” he says.
Over the next few months I see them again and again. They come with shovels and rakes, hammers and drills. They clear away the weeds and mend my porch stairs. They fix my roof, my floors, and my plumbing. Broken window panes are replaced. The peeling white paint is scraped and my old colors of light green, burgundy, ivory, and mauve are repainted. Then one day they move in. They spend more time painting and papering my walls and refinishing my floors and mantels. Lovely velvet and lace curtains hang from my windows and beautiful furnishing like those from long ago fill my rooms. People come to visit and speak about my beauty. Lavender and lilies grow in my gardens and roses climb the new picket fence. Potted ferns hang from my porches while my new family wile away the hours on the new porch swing.
I am alive again!
I am beautiful and I am loved. Life is good!
Come back tomorrow to see pictures of the Velvet Rose and learn of her fate.