We live in a old farm house on a boarding school campus. It was one of the four original homesteads on the campus used in the farm family program. Built by the Daughters of the American Revolution before WWII, the farm was a way out of the harsh life of the Appalachian Mountains for one family. The family agreed to tend the land, turn over a set amount of bounty to the school, and save the rest for their own homestead. The children worked with their parents and went to school. The men learned farming techniques and animal husbandry. The women learned homemaking skills. The families were allowed to stay as long as there was a father and mother and children who needed schooling. It was an inspired and much needed program that elevated the lives of many families in this area. The farm family program lasted until the 1970s when manufacturing came to the area and a livelihood became much easier to earn. When the families vacated the homes, they were renovated and became faculty housing. Our house has served many families and we are grateful that we live in it now.
Over the nearly 80 year history of this home, there have been many improvements-indoor plumbing and a modern kitchen were added, porches have been enclosed, the loft was insulated and been made part of interior, and a master suite with a second bathroom was added. With all these additions and improvements, oddities abound. Anyone who has ever lived in an old house knows the humor and reality of that statement.
Coach and I are handy, very handy, and have made numerous improvements, with the help and support of the school’s amazing maintenance crew, in the little over 3 years we have lived here. We built flowers beds and landscaped around the entire house. We cleared about 10 years of brush from the lot to open up a 360-degree view of the mountains. (Well, we’re almost finished. The cold weather should kill the hornets and we can finally be done.) We replaced a mud hole where the previous owner allowed their dogs to wallow with a beautiful patio area for entertaining and the boys’ water table and sand table. We added a parking pad, crucial for car care since we live on a dirt road. This past summer, we repainted and tiled above the shower surround in both bathrooms after the floor was replaced in the original bathroom.
The dining room light we inherited was possessed (and from the stylistically-challenged 70s). Light bulbs lasted about 6 weeks. They flickered on and off at will, would be dead to days and then suddenly alight. It was hung way off center of the room in the normal walking path. Coach, 6’5″, frequently bumped his head on it. And it was not nearly bright enough to light the whole room. After discussion with the head of housing, we sought a new, brighter, dependable lighting source. And this is what we fell in love with. It’s a dark bronze, sort of a Germanic castle feel to it.
We installed it Tuesday, added a new up-to-code dimmer, and swagged it over the center of the table. (You can see how far off it was). I can’t wait to decorate it for Christmas either. I see evergreen garland and when the boys are older ornaments hanging from it. It is a wonderful addition to our dining room and we plan to repaint the dining room and living room in the summer, so we are even more motivated now to make the old rooms match the style of the chandelier.
Coach and I have several principles that guide us as we journey through life. One is to leave every place, organization, church, whatever better than you found it. And we are certainly doing that here!
How are you leaving things better than you found them?