Back From The Brink

Like most history geeks, I long dreamed of living in an old house. It didn’t happen, and that’s OK. If life had led me to purchase an old home, though, I’m sure of one thing:  I’d buy one that was in fairly good shape.

Robert and Ann Wilson

Thankfully, everyone doesn’t feel the same way. While traveling over the holidays, I had the opportunity to see the incredible structure that two of my in-laws, Robert and Ann, are restoring on Maryland’s eastern shore.

The structure is in very rough shape today. Much of the land around it has been developed. This property was slated for the same fate.

Before that could happen, Robert and Ann purchased the property. The transaction took place in cooperation with the local historical society.

Providence Farm was a miller’s home built in 1746. The wooden portion was added about 1900, and the home was occupied until 1980.

The tree is a type of alder, possibly brought by original colonists from England.

The wooden addition will ultimately be removed. For the time being, it provides a bit of shelter for a team of archaeologists conducting a dig. Their findings will help tell the property’s story.

Some of the artifacts discovered on the property.

Amazingly enough, much of the hardware and woodwork in the earlier structure are original.

Some of the original architectural details.

Ready for restoration.

Several outbuildings and barns have been razed. However, a small barn that still exists was built over the original log smokehouse, which has provided a measure of protection. The barn will be removed during the restoration process.

The only remaining outbuilding.

The house is a treasure, and the potential is obvious. Still, most of us wouldn’t have the skills and determination to take on a project this size. This isn’t the couple’s first restoration, however. They know what they’re doing.

So here’s to all those visionaries who step in and bring these architectural gems back from the brink of destruction. Who knows what stories they may reveal?

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5 Responses to “Back From The Brink”

  1. Arletta Dawdy's Blog Says:

    I love this and most old stuff. My daughter, the archaeologist can blame me if she needs to about her own obsession with “old stuff.” The woodwork here looks amazinly well preserved and I would cherish the alder as I know your inlaws will.

  2. Kathleen Ernst Says:

    Arletta – ha! I imagine your daughter thanks you often.

  3. Barb Jatczak Says:

    Hi Kathleen,

    What a neat building, but what a lot of work. The inside will be gorgeous when cleaned up, etc. I’m glad that addition won’t stay on there as that sure detracts from the original house. I wish we could have bought an old house too, but it would have been too costly and we would’nt have been handy at fixing fixer-uppers.

  4. Pam De Voe Says:

    What a wonderful thing for them to do – and what a commitment! Like you, I am glad there are people out there who are up to such a task. I’m not against change and development, per se. However, it’s a shame to lose our past in the name of progress.

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      I’m not handy this way, so this type of project isn’t for me. And I agree, change and development are inevitable…but treasures like this so rare, I love to see every one possible saved!

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