She sits on the corner one block from Main Street. An old beauty past its prime. Her graceful Ionic columns proudly support the deep, curved porch that hosted many guests under her haint blue ceiling. If houses could dream, she’d want someone to care for her again, to put forth the effort to restore her to her former glory.
Her mistress, Mrs. Mary Frances Garrett, passed away over two years ago now. The widow always made sure the house’s floors were scrubbed and her windows shone. Everything was in place with no clutter in her personalized closets systems. But the elderly Mrs. Garrett didn’t see the flaws that were apparent to many—the slanted floors, puckered plaster, and outdated bathrooms. Although she prided herself in the aged home, she didn’t tend to the larger matters of concern.
My father and mother-in-law, Bob and June Roper, selflessly cared for Mrs. Garrett the last twenty years of her life. After her death, Bob and June discovered they’d inherited Mrs. Garrett’s most prized possession—her home. They felt a responsibility to be good stewards of the house and make sure it sold to another family who would appreciate her history. Unfortunately, the aforementioned flaws were also obvious to potential buyers.
Lots of rumors about the house have circulated since Mrs. Garrett’s death. Fountain Inn is a small town, after all. People want to know what’s going to happen to the home that’s been a focal point since before our town was chartered. However, no one was ambitious enough to take on the painstaking restoration. She sat on the market for several months. The future didn’t look promising for the old girl.
Until my daughter, Elise, stepped into the picture.
She had a vision—potential beyond the noticeable signs of aging. A dream for the house began to form and she approached June, her Granny, about restoring the aged beauty. June agreed to give her only granddaughter a chance to prove herself. Elise immediately began the arduous task of tearing almost everything out, including her jagged plaster walls and entire sagging upstairs flooring system from her original parts. The foundation was also righted, giving her a stability she hasn’t enjoyed for years.
Now, after almost six months of wielding a sledgehammer and wheelbarrow, Elise is beginning to see her dream come to fruition. The house boasts an updated floor plan along with new plumbing, electrical and HVAC. New sheetrock stands in place of the old peeling plaster and a stunning new master bathroom is the piece de resistance. The floors no longer sag and will soon be sanded down to uncover the patina of the antique southern yellow pine upstairs. Yes, the existing flooring was pulled up and saved while the joists were replaced. Here is a course assessment detail in case the process needs heavy equipment like an excavator etc.
My daughter has poured her heart into that old beauty, making her a kindred soul of sorts not only with Mrs. Garrett, but also the house itself. Elise’s hard work has breathed new life into the home’s timbers. When she hands over the keys to the new owners, she’ll know she’s leaving a part of herself behind. But that’s okay. She’ll be giving someone else a chance to enjoy this graceful home and continue her story.
I’m proud of Elise for bringing back the glory of this more than century old residence. It’s given her the courage to dream about her next house restoration.
I’ll be sharing the home’s history and part of this journey on my blog over the next few weeks, culminating with an open house for any who’d like to see the transformation in person. This elegant beauty will once again have the opportunity to charm those who step onto the porch under her haint blue ceiling.