Sunday, January 2, 2011

Fallingdowne turns 100

This morning I realized our rambling, run-down old Victoria house is now officially a century old. On days like this, it really feels it, as I'm writing in my fingerless gloves, down vest, wool cardigan and blanket.
In summer, to me at least, the place has a certain charming, beach-house kind of feel, even though it's a half-dozen long blocks from the beach and we never go there anymore now that the kids are grown. In wintertime, its charms are more elusive.
I sometimes think about the commonalities between this house and our Merida casa-in-progress. I'm not quite sure how old the Merida house is, though the 12-foot ceilings, thick mamposteria walls, old pasta-tile floors and iron beams suggest it's also early-ish 19th century.
In Merida, most of the original flourishes (aside from some pasta floors and a couple of doors) were stripped out in an earlier renovation.
Same with the Victoria house. It has the original door and window frames and a few leaded glass windows. The century-old fir floors are worn out; they've been sanded down one too many times so that they split and pop where the traffic is heaviest or the floors are warped. I won't get started on the kitchen and bathrooms.
In our Victoria home the plumbing and the electrical are a dysfunctional mix of original and new. So were the works in the Merida house, but that is already being remedied.
Within a couple of months the main part of the Merida house will be updated and pretty and ready for long lazy days involving hammocks and fresh orange juice.
After all these years Fallingdowne is still waiting for its makeover.


  1. Now I understand where you've acquired the courage to do the renovation in Merida.

    We also live in a 'century house.'. It's a very solid two-story farmhouse, which we have lovingly restored over the past 22 years. The porch roof had collapsed before we bought it. And the farmer had camped in the dining room as his bedroom after he broke his hip, leaving the interior pretty crude. The house was stately in its day, but had gone to seed somewhat.

    We'll be back in town in a month to continue our quest. Maybe we'll bump into you again.


  2. Hi Eric,
    I'd love to see what you've done with your old farmhouse. You and Mary are a very resourceful pair. We do get attached to these old places and their stories. I must contact you about a couple of house hunting ideas, by the way, especially as you're heading back soon.

  3. Debbie, interstingly I was recently thinking about the old house I left in Juneau, Alaska to move to Mexico. My old home was built by gold miners, and is 98 this year. It has a lot in common with Fallingdowne. From it I gained a lot of insight and interest in restoring old houses, and this served me well as I took on renovating my old Mérida house.

  4. Hi Marc,
    I agree. Even though the building methods are very different between the Pacific Northwest and Mexico, a lot of lessons about repair and maintenance still seem to apply. In your recent post about cold weather, your old Juneau neighborhood looks very pretty.