Thursday, March 01, 2012
The Old Home--Montrose, Alabama
Montrose used to be a separate entity, some five miles north of Fairhope. It was older, more Southern, more settled, less contentious. It was the place my parents found a home for the family in 1949.
"It's not much of a house, we said," my mother told me some forty years later. "But it's a nice place for a house." The three and a half acres was pretty spectacular, even then. It was dotted with oaks, dripping with Spanish Moss; there was space in the back for a pasture for horses and an area for a nice little chicken house to the north of the house. The house sat on a hill and looked grander from the old highway than it really was, but its interiors held cozy corners and great light and high ceilings (is 14 feet high enough for you?) and was designed in the day when it was important to catch the breezes in summer. It was almost as if it had its own air conditioning system.
Our family owned and treasured the house for some sixty years, by which time our mother, who stayed on there, had allowed much of it to fall into disrepair. To say that she had not updated in on a regular basis would be an understatement. Still, the three adult children, all relocated nearby, visited every day and always felt that sense of joy that is the pride of a home. All three of us love old homes and like nothing more than restoring and refurbishing them. But in our hearts there will always be that certain house, that certain place to which our mind returns. It is a specific, special old house, occupying the crest of a hill in Montrose.
My brother Graham assured me that the family who bought it after our mother died treasured the house just as we did, and wanted to restore it to the best house it could be in today's world.
Today I took the opportunity to visit and my spirits soared. You still enter the house from the kitchen, always awkward, but for the visitor very warm and charming.
The wide center hall is enhanced by the new owners' antiques--and by their good taste in keeping things simple.
They've added a building at the back where they can entertain and just chill out. This is where there was once a chicken house, or a stable, depending on which child tells the story. We had both, at different points in time. Later my father had a carport built, which soon was used for storage and basically became, as Mama would say, a junk pile. It is now cleaned up for useful living space.
I came away from my visit feeling happy and a little nostalgic. But I had long since given the house away in my mind. The property still holds memories, and the new family will build a new life revolving around the heritage of home that shines throughout the simple space. These pictures I shot today give a feeling of what a wonderful house it is for all time.