We became the second owners of this nearly 100 year old house in 1991, caring for this house has been an experience of on going culture building for us over the years..... After being relatively light on our feet for nearly a decade after college, we returned to our home town married with two babies needing a nest. We knew we wanted to live near the grandparents and began our search!
The Chamberlain house was listed for just one day in the newspaper and somehow I managed to persuade the owner over the phone to let me walk through. He had pulled the ad because he realized the house was not ready to show. It had become a rental property over the years with little to no maintenance, suffice it to say the house had lost its sparkle. I specifically remember my mother in law at the time saying after her tour, “I would not touch it with a ten foot pole.”
From the street, the aging dark brown paint job, the falling off gutters and gapping whole under the front porch stood out like a sore thumb in this tidy historic residential neighborhood. I was drawn in by the rustic street appeal, sitting there weathered on this sweet little raise in the land, this 80 years old house charmed me and called out for care.
Right off the bat, upon entering the screened porch, childhood memories of cloud watching for hours and day dreaming on the couch of my Gram's front porch in the UP were revived...... when we pushed open the solid oak front door we were met with waves of cat pee emanating from the gold shag carpet which shook me right out of my daydream. i imagined with ease that beneath the old soiled covering (which I immediately wanted to begin tearing out) was a protected hardwood floor. The smell was strong and begged to distract us from the rich patinated wood and leaded glass built-ins. The fact that there was no light shining through the windows didn’t help. I took the liberty of moving aside the sagging Mexican blanket covering the morning sun from streaming through the prominent east facing picture window. The sunshine lit the room up and as we walked through each room I was able to imagine it in its original splendor. The quality of the craftsmanship inspired me, some focused skilled crew built it back in 1915 for $4000.00. I began envisioning our family living under this roof.........twenty three years later, several dozen home repair projects completed (including even before we moved in a complete rewiring of the entire electric system of the house) it became a home base to our three amazing daughters, a fervent partnership, three beloved border collies, many regal cats, ancient friendships, countless family gatherings, and thousands of shared delicious meals. Today we continue the tradition of deepening our home base and culture by welcoming in folks from all walks of life and from all parts of the world.
Kathleen is writing a book about growing a family in the Chamberlain house, called Home. She hopes to have it complete when it turn 100 year old in 2015.