Friday, November 12, 2010

The old place

This house still stands on the site of the new build. It once was a small store which serviced the rural community which used to be here. Someone built a small addition in the back for a kitchen and a washroom and the store became a home. Other houses were built in the area and soon a neighbourhood had sprung up. In the decades since, some of those neighbouring houses were torn down and newer, bigger houses were built. The old house, though, was left more or less alone and it aged.

Its walls started to bow out from the weight of decades of successive snow loads on its flat roof.

The brick facade peeled away from the wood frame beneath. In the image above, you can see the large gap between the west facing window, which still sits firm in the house frame, and the bricks around it buckling out under compression.

There are other gaps and cracks throughout the exterior walls of the house, some of which run almost the full height or width of the house.

Some of the wood from the walls taken out of the second floor lie in the backyard. There is almost nothing salvageable.

In the backyard, there is a metal shed made from two sheds pushed together with a hole cut into the common wall. This double shed was used to store car parts and repair tools but most of that has been cleaned out.

Beside the front door: a phone book, thrown through the front window. When I walk inside, I smell the odor of old age. The house is tired.

It sags in the middle. Adrian tells me that some lumber posts were shoved under the floor joists by the previous owners to keep them from sagging any further.

Broken mechanics remain in place, thick with dust, and power cords, yellowed and cracked.

Something greasy, sticky covers all the cabinetry - testimony to the thousands of meals that were prepared here.

Who sat around this table? Where are they now? Was this kitchen filled with laughter or daily drudgery?

Aside from the wallpaper, the curved railings at the top of the stairs on the second floor seem to be the only other design flourish in the whole house. Maybe they can be salvaged.

Knob and tube wiring hidden in the walls.

The washroom is cramped, barely enough floor space for the sink, toilet and tub. And that rattling, single pane window - it must have been cold stepping out of the bath in the winter.

The house is old. It is out of breath; its joints are brittle; its skin is cracked. It's done its job, kept its occupants sheltered and warm all those decades, but it can no longer fulfill that purpose. Sometime in the spring, it will be torn down.

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