Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?
Last month we had the rare privilege of returning to the house we built in 1978 and spending a weekend reconnecting with neighbors, friends and family.
Actually, to say we “built” the home is a bit overstated. In fact, it was a civil war era barn that we re-made into a cozy home for our growing family. The idea started with a tour that had been developed that year in Chester County, PA. If you signed up, you could visit and enjoy several renovated barns – inside and out.
Now Chester County has a lot of wealthy families, and I think the ones who re-did those barns had to be among them. From spiral stairways to open loft areas, the professionally designed masterpieces were an inspiration. We loved every home we entered!
How it Began Though the idea was exciting, we needed a barn to serve as our canvas if we were to create our own unique living space. It so happened that we had been living in Jim’s sister’s house for the 2 years of our marriage. His brother-in-law was in the National Guard, and had been stationed in Virginia for a time, so they had wanted someone to take care of their farmhouse. As newlyweds, we were more than happy to take the job, hoping to save money for our own home.
As the time approached for them to return and reclaim their house, Al (brother-in-law) came to us and asked if we would consider buying the barn on the property and turning it into a home. Since he traveled so much for his job, he would love to have someone near-by to help care for his wife and daughter in his absence. [I think he also felt a good measure of compassion for us as we started our own life journey.]
Thus began the adventure leading to the barn/home we lived in and enjoyed for 25+ years. But the first step was not promising. We entered the building to find pigeon poop piled up yards above our heads along one wall, and big holes in the roof. I was daunted – Jim saw “a kitchen here, a bathroom here, and 3 bedrooms.”
Truly, there was beauty in the hand-hewn beams with the marks of the tools still visible, in the wooden pegs that held them together, and in the rough old floor boards that formed the base of the room. Then there was the old stone at the front of the building, with a date from the 1850's, that declared how long this building had withstood winds and weather to fulfill it’s purpose. We fell in love immediately.
Over the next year we worked steadily to recreate the barn into a unique rustic home. Our church pitched in to help, so we had carpenters, electricians and plumbers assisting us. I remember the Pastor working to lay a floor in our loft bedroom, and a dear friend helping Jim hand dig a well that never went dry in all the time we lived there.
I also remember cold winter mornings when I got up before the rest of the family to kindle a fire in the antique wood stove we had purchased. I recall the hordes of kids our children brought home after school, basketball practice and social events. I still cry to think of our faithful dog, Cindy, who died one spring morning by the silo.
So many memories, good and bad, were birthed in that old barn. So when a friend told me that it had been bought by the neighbors, and was being re-made into a bed and breakfast, I was thrilled. I had always thought living there would be a wonderful experience to share with others. However, I was a little worried about how it would be changed from our cozy home.
Home Again, Home Again This summer we took the plunge and reserved the barn for a 2-night stay. Our children joined us with their children so the latest Davis generation would see where their parents grew up. We invited others to stop by and see it and us while we were there – and many of them did.
From the minute we turned into the driveway I was pleased to see many of the original features still there – but some big changes were evident, too. The silo was gone, replaced with a turret topped by and observation platform. The front roof was covered with huge solar panels. Entry was through a door that had never been there in our time. Rooms were added and there were many upgrades, but the feel of that cozy homestead was still there. I was thrilled.
For the entire weekend we looked through old photographs, enjoyed old memories and made new ones. The grandkids measured themselves by the marks we had made on the wall as their parents grew. We slept in the loft bedroom we had enjoyed for many years. Old friends called and stopped by to see us, and we had time to catch up with our former neighbors, John and Kathy.
In all, a wonderful weekend – BUT, I was totally unprepared for the emotions those old walls would kick to the surface. At one point, overcome by the memories and the changes, I climbed to the loft and laid on the bed, trying to get those emotions under control. My precious grandson, Logan, cautiously crept into the room and asked if I was OK. When I explained that I was just a little emotional, he quietly laid beside me on the bed and gave me a hug. A sweet new memory to treasure.
So when people say, “You can’t go home again,” don’t believe them. However, home may have changed a bit since you were last there!
A Chance for You If you would like to experience the beauty and charm of our old home, here is your link: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/20309050