The Death of a Farmhouse

A sad event is upcoming.  In about a month, my grandpa’s farmhouse will be torn down.  According to one professor, the house appears to have been built circa 1840.  It is full of old timbers, with logs visible in the basement.  It is timber frame, but not log.  Other outbuildings are built with old timbers from previous structures.  With Dad’s help, we triedto salvage some pieces of hardware, such as old doorknobs and hooks.  I wish it could be saved, but frankly it is rather disgusting inside.  I found two dead mice, one dead bird, the upstairs walls were sticky-wet from humidity, and the downstairs stinks.  It is full of dirt and I changed clothes as soon as I got home.  I would like to see it preserved, but it is probably beyond fixing.  The thought of it being destroyed is also heartbreaking.  I’m not sure where I got the idea, but I think Grandpa always wanted to farm.  He bought the farm in 1961.  His father was a farmer, and many of his ancestors before were also farmers.  One ancestor even developed their type of corn, and is recognized in the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame.  It was called Leaming corn.  I suppose the upside is that it is still in the family.  Granpa deeded the farm to his grandson, my cousin, who plans to build his own home on the site.  I still hate to see it go, and I have been picking up various little artifacts from around the house and outbuildings:  a piece of Coca-Cola bottle, something plastic, a shell button, a rusty spoon, an “Indian Botanic’ bottle, a piece of what was probably a milk bottle, a piece of old crockery, and pieces of old china.  I guess it’s a final attempt to preserve and learn.

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5 Responses to The Death of a Farmhouse

  1. foreignfilm1 says:

    I’m sorry that you are not able to save your family’s farmhouse. I think that’s great though that you can salvage some of the pieces incorporated into the house and collect some artifacts around the property.

    Some day I would love to own an old farmhouse. However, I know there would be a lot of challenges, especially with preservation and upkeep issues.

  2. Angela says:

    I know very much how you feel. I experienced a similar “loss” in 2004 when my parents sold the house that I grew up in, the house my mom grew up in, and her mother before her, and her father before her. The house we call “305” (the address) was built by my great-great-grandfather, in the mid-1870s, and had been passed down through four generations. My niece and nephew were the sixth generation to live in the house. It was so hard to let it go, but it was time for my parents to move on. I did the same thing you’re doing – collected bits of the house – some peeling wallpaper from my old room, a few bits of sandstone from the basement, an old square nail I found on the basement floor, my little attempt to maintain a link through some ‘physical’ memory. And much like your cousin, my brother managed to keep the house in the family = after 4 years, he bought the property back from the ‘interim occupant’, and it’s now back in the family:) I just stopped by on Sunday to visit, and say ‘hello’ to an old friend:) Sorry your grandfather’s house will be torn down, but you’re on the right track to preserving it’s memory = finding keepsakes, sharing stories. Funny how we can become so emotional about buildings! Really gives another meaning to a ‘sense of place’:)

  3. Lynda K says:

    There’s something sad when a building dies, as though the long line of occupants experience a second-going. I watched my family home where I grew up sit vacant for a decade — had nightmares about its insides, frankly, as it did. But I finally found solace in the fact that the most important things I carried with me from that place were not the walls and the stuff, but the memories. Hopefully your memories of the house will help you!

  4. Don Miles says:

    I grow your family’s Leaming corn. It’s very rare to find it today but it is an excellent corn.

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