Going Back Home

This is the home I lived in for the first half of my childhood. We moved when I was about nine or ten. I went to see it about fifteen years ago, and it has changed hands at least three times since then. I went back for another visit a few weeks ago. The homeowner not only allowed me to roam and photograph the grounds but graciously allowed me to go through the inside.

It is amazing how different things look through memory or maybe is simply how I saw them through my childish eyes. The house seems to have shrunk, and the scary noises have gone somewhere else to live. Out buildings have fallen down, and the woods have grown up. Still, I could hear the childish laughter echo through the halls as the footsteps chased one another up and down the grand mahogany stairs…oh sorry, that didn’t happen; I was reminiscing.

This is actually the rear of the house, but we called it the front because that is where the driveway is and the entrance we used.

It was only a few months ago that I found out the purpose of those curved concrete formations. My friends and I used to pile hay on them and pretend they were beds and we were staying at an inn and hitched our horses to the post. I had no idea they were supposed to be used to hold an oil tank because we had a coal furnace.

They are in the midst of renovations, and have only completed half of the front. We spent many a day playing on that porch.

This side of the house had the coolest windows ever though the other side had the awesome window seats.

These steps are on the rear porch of the house (the part we called the front!). They led to the dark, dank, and coal dusted basement.

This was my father’s workshop/storage shed. To me and my friends, it was a giant playhouse. He only used the downstairs for his tools, so we had pretty much free reign of the upstairs. Between that and the barn was a tiny little building that held hoses that could be hooked to the reservoir in case of a fire; fortunately they were never needed.

This was the reservoir. It drained during the 1969 flood (Hurricane Camille) and never replenished. I guess when the dam was damaged that was never repaired. (It connected to the Rockfish River on the other side of the road.)

This rock wall stood as the interior wall of the lower level of the old barn. A rock wall surrounded both banks on each side of the barn. The ramp that led into the front top level of the barn was open on the sides…actually only a foot or so; just a big enough space for small children to climb into. My friends/neighbors and I used to play archaeologists. We dug for treasure though we found none. We mostly wanted to unearth the mummy we knew was encased in the red blanket we kept digging up….and we were not convinced the bone we found belonged to a dog!

The house was built circa 1890, and is now on the Virginia Historic Register. It had many lovely architectural features inside and out, not to mention the slate roofs on all the buildings and the use of soapstone on the foundations. The home was originally built for the company manager of the soapstone plant.

Living in the Gap

January 25, 2012 – Connecting with my sister

My sister called me and I was talking to her the postman rang the doorbell. He handed me a package. I remarked to my sister that I’d received a package addressed to me, and I hadn’t ordered anything. She was quiet the entire time (unusual, so I should have known she was in the process of “getting me got”.) I kept saying how I didn’t know who sent it and I hadn’t heard of the company and it didn’t say who it was from…and WHY would anyone send me a Dale Earnhardt, Jr. coffee mug. Still, she didn’t say anything until I read the top of the invoice and noticed the sender was HER! And then I asked her why she sent it to me…it was for Dirt Man! So of course, then I had to give her a hard time for not addressing it to him. We got a nice little laugh at how she let me go on and on and on. So, maybe I should read more and talk less, huh?

32 thoughts on “Going Back Home

  1. Love the pics of the old house. Brings back lots of memories. I think I remember that the pipes that held the water in the reservoir burst during the flood and since they no longer used it for fires there was no reason to repair it.

    Maybe I addressed it to you because you are the one home most of the time?

  2. Wonderful photos, Suzi!

    Love the house! Even from just looking at it through these photos, I can really get a ‘feel’ for childhood memories of what you described. Isn’t it something how houses contain ‘energy’, and that no matter how many times it’s bought and then sold, the house still keeps the ‘essence’ of the previous owners?

    I remember going back to my childhood home when I first moved back east. I sat in the car and just quietly looked at the house and got VERY teary-eyed, while memories flooded through me like rewinding a movie and watching it again.

    Thanks so much for sharing, my friend.

    Have a wonderful Wednesday…….X

  3. We lived in a house very much like that for awhile when I was around 12. I always loved big porches. As to reading more than talking, that is often true for most of us.

    • It is an awesome house…circa 1890, has such architectural treasures inside and out, beautiful mahogany carved fireplaces, window seats, slate roof, marble counters, and soapstone sink, used to have the claw bathtubs.

  4. Reminds me a bit of my grandparents house. I like the little round window top/front. The new owners put blue siding on their house, too! I’ll never forget my shock at seeing it like that.

  5. What an interesting house you lived in! My part of the country doesn’t contain as many old houses as yours does, so I’ve never lived in a house from that era. How fascinating to grow up amid all those nooks and crannies! And wouldn’t it be fun relaxing on that porch with a good book now?!

  6. Beautiful house. The long porch area woudl be a nice place to relax in a swing with a glass of iced tea! We don’t have many houses that old around here.

    Your post got me thinking about what I would consider my childhood home. We lived in so many, I associate different ones with different years of my life and I don’t have a strong attachment to any of them. I’d never really thought about this before.

    • We lived in on house before that but I don’t remember since I was about one and a half when we moved to this one. I loved this house the most, but I loved that we lived on my dad’s family property when we moved from there.

  7. What a grand old home. All the unique touches that old houses have make them so very interesting. I especially love window seats. The current owner was very sweet to let you explore!

  8. That house is astounding. The windows and the porches are just gorgeous! Oh, I could look at these pictures and dream about this house for a while. How amazing that you grew up here. 🙂

  9. I’ve gone back to a couple of my old homes, but never to the ones from my childhood. I should probably try and do that someday. It’s nice the current owners are renovating. It looks like a lovely, Victorian home. I love the black and white shots.

  10. Reblogged this on Genea Bailey's Blog and commented:
    Another photographer has had the same idea as me, going back to their childhood home after years and re-photographing it. It’s interesting to see the different ways our idea has developed. She photographed the exterior of the house making it about the house itself however I will be going inside because I find it makes it more personal. Still, Suzi Cate has produced a lovely project. I also enjoy the description alongside her images.

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