Thursday, November 28, 2013

The house that Horton built.


Corb's research into our new old house has been continuing. The other day he met with the lady from the Historical Society at the library. She took him up to the "secret" fourth floor of the Eldredge library, where he received a chance to take a look at some of the city archives, and make some copies.

The original owner of the house was a man named Edward Horton. This always makes me laugh, because it makes me think of Days of Our Lives. I guess that makes sense though. Isn't Days of our LIves set in Salem, after all? Anyway, the Horton were a prominent family in Eldredge at the time. Edward was a well-to-do business man, who was one of the owners of Horton, Angell & Co, a manufacturer of (among other things) the "original separle sleeve button."

To the left is an advertisement that Corb managed to snag from the archives. He's thinking about blowing it up to a larger size and then framing it on a wall within the house. Lord knows we are going to need artwork in the house--the current owners had beautiful stuff, but we're going to be starting from scratch, and right now, living in an apartment with two bedrooms (three if you count the half bedroom that we created for Ashes), a living room, and a kitchen, we really don't have a whole heck of a lot. I am sure that we will develop sprawl soon, but right now, all we've cultivated is cramped. It will be nice to spread out, and also reclaim all of the stuff that I have in so many other places, like Josie's homestead and my parent's house.

Edward Horton had his factory on a road that's quite close to the apartment complex that we live at today. His family also owned a series of shops right in the center, called Horton Block, back in the middle of the 1800s. It was a huge complex of shops (including a bowling alley) that took up an enormous amount of space in the center of the city. Horton Block no longer exists, however. It was destroyed in the "great fire of Eldredge," which took place at the turn of the century. I do believe that the factory is still around, however, although it's no longer owned by Horton & Angell.

Edward Horton had the house built in 1869. It was located in what is now a fairly ugly series of shopping complexes, including a pawn shop, but at the time, this road was populated by beautiful Victorians owned by some of Eldredge's most prominent families. Including Edward's brother, a Civil War hero who lived across from him in his own Victorian, which was even more beautiful than the one we are purchasing.

The place where our house once stood is now a Papa Gino's. Behind it is, there is a road called "Horton Street." Corb and I drove down it the other day, and It's really not a very nice road at all. The houses are too close together and kind of run down. The whole area has become a victim of urban blight. Progress sometimes sucks.

Stonington NarragansettAnyway, Edward Horton's death was kind of a big deal, from what Corb can see. He was a passenger on the SS Narragansett, a paddler steamer that burned and sank on June 11, 1880, after a collision in Long Island Sound. According to Wikipedia, "The Narragansett had taken on approximately 300 passengers at the North River Pier at Jay St. in New York City at 5:00 pm. Later that evening at around 11:30 pm, in heavy fog, she collided with her sister ship the SS Stonington near the mouth of the Connecticut River. The Stonington was damaged, but was able to return to a port and took no casualties. The Narragansett had a huge gash in the side of her hull, followed by a rapid fire. Many of the passengers asleep in their staterooms were unable to escape. Significant controversy followed the collision, as the captains of the two ships gave different accounts of the accident and the events leading up to it, and the crew of the Narragansett faced accusations of neglecting its duty. Approximately 50 passengers, but only one crewman, died on the Narragansett.One of the passengers on the Stonington was Charles J. Guiteau who, just over a year later, assassinated President James A. Garfield. Guiteau was on deck at the time of the collision, and afterwards believed that he had been miraculously spared to punish Garfield."

All of Eldredge went into mourning over Edward's loss, apparently. Buildings and houses in the center of the city were draped in black, and there was a day of observance to mark his passing.

After that, the house fell out of Horton hands, and eventually, the area started to change, and not for the better. Around 1960, the shopping complexes I mentioned were proposed, and the house that Horton built was targeted for demolition. At the last minute, however, a physician purchased the building, and had it moved to the location it's at today, which is about one mile down the street. Sadly, the more opulent building owned by Edward's brother was torn down to make way for "progress."

The attached rather blurry photo is from the Eldredge Chronicle, and tells the story of the migration of the building from where it stood in Eldredge Center to where it rests now. Apparently the move block up traffic for quite some time. I can see why! It can't be easy to move a house that is 75 tons!

As I have mentioned, eventually, the physician let the place slide, and about ten years ago, the place was totally renovated by a couple who appear to specialize in refurbishing historical old houses.

They did a fantastic job.I am not sure that Corb and I are up to their abilities, but there again, I guess we don't have to be. But we do appreciate the love and attention to detail that they put into it--and hope to keep it as beautiful as it is now, and remember it's history, for as long as the house is ours.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Today was spent house hunting with Tom the realtor guy.

Corb and I have had an idea what we are looking for some time now. We definitely positively absolutely do NOT want a cookie cutter McMansion; one of those new houses all the builders create nowadays that are just perfect for the typical American family with the soccer mom and the 2.5 children and Ward Clever husband. We want something with character, something that will give us space, something that is set away from other folks, that isn't crammed next to someone else's place so that we are breathing down their neck. For some reason, something Victorian keeps bubbling to the surface.

The first house we saw was Victorian and lovely, but too close to other places, with a tiny back yard and a driveway that was horrifying to exit out of, because we had to back out onto a main road.

The second house we had good vibes about from the beginning. Corb has been looking at it online for about a week now. It's on the outskirts of Eldredge, although it is on a main road. But it's set back a ways, so you can't see the street from the house, and the parking area is really quite pretty and spacious. You have to duck under a trellis or two to get to the front door.

And we kind of fell in love. It really is everything we want and more. It was built in 1880, and in the sixties, a doctor had the house moved to the spot it's in now. About ten years ago, a gay couple purchased it and refurbished it. They did such a good job that the Eldredge Historical Society asked them to teach classes in how to refurbish Victorian houses.

It has four bedrooms, one with bay windows that afford a lovely view of the front and one with a Juliet balcony, and a huge backyard, perfect for Theo to play manhunt. It has two dining areas, a den and a study, and best of all...

The perfect place for me to put my writing area. There is a larger area Corb was thinking I would like, but the minute I saw another space I thought, "this is what I want."

It's not too large: just enough space for a desk, a large book area, and an area for me to sit and maybe recline back. Behind it is a closet with sliding doors that I could use as a shelving area for my books and file cabinets.

I don't know. When I sat there, it just felt right. It felt like a place I could be creative in.

And Corb loved the place, too. Every room was just perfect for us.

We told Tom the realtor we would let him know in the morning. Of course, we are going to say we want to make an offer.