by: Erin Caldwell
stored in: General

I was five when my adventurous parents decided to abandon the comfort of our yellow-sided, two-story box of a house and move in to a half-finished (more like a quarter finished) giant of a place that used to be one of the most lavish and stylish houses in its formerly named “Million Dollar Row.” With only two rooms completely done—a bedroom and the bath—we came gallivanting in, my siblings and I, excited about the change of surroundings and not too concerned about the dirt and layers of paint soon to be removed from the walls and woodwork. As my parents labored month after month and year after year (with only a few contractors to do the things they could not), the stripping woodwork, drywalling, wall papering, and restoring slowly crept into my consciousness. I began to appreciate the beauty of the piece of history in which I lived. What was once sea-green woodwork slowly became a dark, deep brown; what was once a dusty, crumbling fireplace became a mysteriously lovely work of art with a few of its tiles missing because my parents didn’t want to put something there that was not original. I remember the search for a piece of lincrusta—a stiff pressed kind of wall paper—to match the rest in the dining room and the gentle, slow, old carpenter who labored to restore the beautiful lines and design of our spindled, columned porch.

As I got older and as the house began to be restored to its former beauty, I realized that my house was quite different from those of my friends. It was unique and original. My friends never knew the draftiness of the bathroom in winter, but they never hung their stockings on a 100 year old fireplace or enjoyed the towering beauty of an 8-food Christmas tree that didn’t even graze our ceiling. My friends never pulled off the top off of their staircase’s newel post to find a hidden compartment and they never had the fun of running a complete circle in their house up the front stair case and down the back. They may have had bigger bedrooms and a finished basement, but they never got the chance to eat their suppers in a dining room with stained glass windows. There were seven fireplaces in my house in which at one time seven fires were burning and keeping people warm. When I walked down my block, I could only imagine what my neighbors’ houses looked like inside, while my friends’ identical suburban houses were predictable—new, but predictable.

As my husband and I began to consider purchasing our own home, it was my parents’ love for the historic that made it only natural for us to consider a historic home; what better place to find one than right around the corner from the place where I grew up.

One Response to “Growing Up in Huffman”

  1. Facebook User Says:

    The neighborhood is so glad that you and Mark chose to stay in the neighborhood. It’s such a pleasure for those of us who watched you and your siblings grow up in the neighborhood and choose to stay put as adults and raise your own family in Huffman.

    But I want to know what happened to that teenager who used to baby sit my grandchildren in Grandma’s “Princess House” as they called it. Time certainly does fly.

    And yes I too hid things in the newell post for the grandkids to find.

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