A Very Very Very Very Fine House

This comic reminds me of our house, in a way. It's not a rustic farmhouse in Nova Scotia...and we can't rip it up and make interesting finds under the floorboards, since we're renting...but still, I am reminded.

This house was built in 1890. By non-American standards, it's practically brand new. But by American reckoning, especially here in the West, it's ancient. Back in the day, this part of Capitol Hill was where the wealthy and the upper-upper-middle-class lived. A few blocks from here is the Molly Brown House Museum, the former home of the most famous Titanic survivor other than Kate Winslet. The Governor's Mansion is a few blocks further on - though it's only been the Governor's Mansion for about fifty years. Prior to that, it was the Boettcher Mansion. The Boettchers are That Family in Colorado, the ones who have their name on everything in Denver, from wings of museums to special hospital wards to the Boettcher Concert Hall to the Boettcher Scholarship, awarded to forty outstanding Colorado high school seniors each spring, a full-ride to any university, public or private, in Colorado.

In those days, there was a woodburning stove in the kitchen - there's a kind of ornamental patch up near the ceiling where the chimney once met the wall. I haven't looked for it, but I'm sure a careful search would reveal the remains of a coal-chute, too. No electricity in those days, of course - so now the exterior of the house is a mess of wires, retrofitting the place for modern habitation.

The houses around here were extensively renovated, of course, when the wealthy fled to the suburbs post-War and their former homes were converted to apartments. The signs of what this place used to look like are everywhere. The only remains of the old staircase run from an exterior door to the basement apartment, covered by a giant boxy thing in our second bedroom. There was once a large staircase window, too. It's long-since filled in with cinderblocks. The house used to have what must have been a lovely, breezy, shady front porch. It was walled in many years ago. Now and then I wish we had a front porch, but overall I prefer the extra room. It's a dining room/library for us. I do wish that whoever walled it in had put in larger windows, though. The laundry room was, similarly, presumably once a back porch. Since it was walled in, the transom over the former back door has been painted shut, and the hardware that operated it has been painted into inoperability, as well.

I wonder what the house looked like back in the day. I wonder if it was painted the same color as it is now. I wonder what we'd find if we ripped up the carpeting in the bedrooms and the linoleum in the kitchen. I wonder how different the living room was with light flooding in from the staircase window.

Mostly I wonder about the people who have lived here over the last 116 years and how they lived their lives. If I believed in that sort of thing, I'd probably suppose the place was haunted.