Post 1: Why did we do this?

Why did Sara and I decide to buy an old house? Are we gluttons for punishment? Yes. Are we masochists? No. Insane? Most Definitely.

The truth is I have always loved old homes. No that’s not right. I adore Old homes. I think they are beautiful, regal, and offer so much more than what is often built today. I love the unique character each old home has and the stories they tell of past owners and the events that took place in them. I have never been nor will I ever be a cookie cutter type guy. Luckily I met a woman who is also not a cookie cutter type girl. Sara likes old homes, but unlike me she is not obsessed with them. She appreciates their craftsmanship and their warmth. Her Grandparents had an old bungalow in Chicago which she adored and has many fond memories of.

As an Architect I also know how new track homes are often built and it scares me. There are nights where I lay awake and think what on earth are we doing as a society to say that this building is only built to last like 50 years before it starts really falling apart. It just seems wasteful to me. An old home was often built with strong old growth timber unlike todays modern wood studs. Old homes were often built and planned with practicality in mind. New homes often come from a stock plan that can be built anywhere.

I digress. When we began our house hunt, I told the various realtors we worked with I wanted a home built before 1940. Ideally I wanted something built before 1925 but, I would take what I could get. Our agent looked at us like we were a pair of rare bug specimens in a jar. Who were these young kids who wanted an old house?

The hunt lasted on and off for over a year. Everyday I looked at Zillow hoping to find the one. The one starter house where we could begin our Newlywedded bliss and raise a family and hopefully live the rest of our days in. I wanted the Thomas Kinkade painting with the white picket fence. I wanted a beautiful old house that can be filled with family and friends. I wanted beautiful woodwork. I wanted stained glass. I wanted. I wanted. I wanted, for I am a romantic at heart.

The criteria for the home went as followed:

1. Old home built before 1940 with character

2. Three bedrooms at least

3. A space for a library

4. The home sat on some land and hopefully had some outbuildings. This was negotiable to me.

5. It had to be no less then 15 minutes away from my parents and family business.

The first house we looked at met all these requirements but….it was a wreck. It was beyond a wreck. It was a tear down. When we pulled up to the 3,200 sq ft monstrosity of a house which sat on over an acre of land, Sara looked at me with her patented deer in headlights look and I knew. This was not the house. The overly large farmhouse had been abandoned and needed to be gutted. Mold was on every wall. Floors and ceilings were caving in. But it had great bones and could be an amazing family home or B&B. Sara said she would go to hell and back for me, but a full top to bottom renovation was to much, to soon. To hell with my artistic vision. On to the next house…

The Second House was so close to what we wanted. It was a Victorian farmhouse on 2.5 acres, with a garage, barn, silo, and tool shed. It was charming. It had a fireplace. It was everything we wanted. But, it was 25 minutes from my parents and extremely far from Sara’s family. No problem, we could commute….Right? Right? We were in love with the idea of our own space. In love with the life we are starting. But the rose colored glasses fell off and then we saw the other problems. We would need a new furnace and HVAC. The electrical needed help. The only bathroom needed to be gutted. And was 2.5 acres a little unmanageable? We decided to wait and look at other houses….

The Second House…delicious

House three was an artist summer cottage that was in a town that we both loved. It obviously had been a summer house for a middle class Chicago family when it was built but then slowly turned into a full residence, as was common in our area. It was nice. It was colorful. It had charm. My Aunt lived 5 minutes away. But the yard was small, there was no garage. The bedrooms were beyond small. It was a nice house, just not our house.

Finally after looking online at a series of homes that would go up for sale, then be sold in just mere days. We saw it. A Victorian just 12 minutes away, across the county line. Sara who had thought of us buying a houses was something I was more dreaming about rather than something we were actually going to do, began to panic. We were in love with this house. This was where we could raise children, grow old, and spend our days at. The 1893 Victorian sat on an acre of land and had a large carriage house. Inside it had 4 bedrooms and a den. The home featured original hardwood doors, stained glass windows, an enclosed porch, original molding, and a large family kitchen with a walk in pantry.

We were in love. Excuse my language but, Sara kept saying Shit. Damn. F#%!. Like a mantra over and over again. Shit. Damn. F#%!. We say that phrase when we find something we love unexpectedly and can’t believe its actually happening. This is what we dreamed about.

The next day we brought our parents. My parents approved and so did Sara’s. We said okay we will get approved and put in a bid in the next few days. In the middle of the night our agent called us. There was a bid on the house. I looked at Sara. She looked at me. We had to have this house. So I put in a rival bid and prayed for the best.

After much negotiation back and forth with the owners. The house was ours in May of 2019. We decided that every great house needed a name. Ours never had one as far as we knew. So we decided then and there to name our new home The Crow’s Nest.

10 thoughts on “Post 1: Why did we do this?

  1. So exciting. Love the history and hearing about the reasons for your decisions. Josh you are quiet the story teller. Love hearing and will continue looking for next post.
    Betty Wertke

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  2. My mom just shared your page with me and reading your first post gave me goosebumps. My grandmother owned this house. My mom with her 7 siblings grew up in this house. I spent many summers at this house. When it was for sale last year I so desperately wanted someone in the family to buy it. But now seeing this blog, I know the right people bought it. I look forward to reading about the restoration. Best of luck!

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  3. It’s so wonderful to see so many couples that still love these old homes! It was just so wonderful and full of joy when I grew up in this home ! My Great parents built this home and 2 others on this same street in Johnsburg Illinois!

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  4. Janice it’s so nice to know the past owners. We love the house and plan on making it special. We want to raise our family here just like yours did. We actually have a mutual friend I believe. My godfather is Paul Swanson. He told me he knew a few of the past owners.

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  5. I am so happy reading your post about the house that I grew up in and called home for almost 25 years . It gives he such joy to drive by the house when I’m in the area and see that not much has changed since I was a small child . I’m so happy that you see the value in restoring a old house like this and want to have your family in a house that I and my great grandparents, my grandparents and my parents called home .

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