So, Wheaton and Glen Ellyn are full of beautifully restored old houses, almost more than any towns I’ve ever lived in. LaPorte (Indiana) has a few beauties and Sheboygan (Wisconsin) had a lot. I remember all of the “painted ladies” there were to see near the Lake Michigan shore. I always thought I’d paint her like a lady when I had a house of my own. Aside: Henry and I went back there two years ago this Fall (I can’t believe it’s been that long) to see the two houses where I lived. The first was in town and let me tell you; I can understand now how that town would have captured my imagination as a tween.
We rented this gorgeous restored Victorian from a husband wife restoration team. They were great. Glen and Sylvia I think. When we became friends with them, they told us how they’d spent weeks ripping up dog pee soaked carpets and tearing out moldy insulation until their knuckles bled. As I look back on it now I appreciate more how well they did restoring that thing. I remember the before-and-after pictures. Original wood floors and stained (not painted) woodwork. Crown moulding. Curved bannister. My parents were given the option to buy it for something incredible like $25,000 (this was in ’91 or so) but turned it down to opt for a house further out in the country with atrocious siding that we never replaced because we only lived there for a year. No…it’s not a sore subject at all, why do you ask?
Anyway, all three of us kids thought this house was haunted or we were at least scared of it at night. The upstairs hallway was narrow and very dark and the light switch was all the way at the end by the bathroom. You had to pass the creepy attic door that didn’t close all the way and risk being touched on the arm by a ghost as you passed. I’m telling you, it was terrifying. I had dreams all the time while we there of a secret passageway leading to a huge ballroom we had that we’d never known about.
One time, my friend Rachel and I were getting ready to take a bath together (we were 9, okay?) in my room, which was one down from the attic when we heard the attic door creek. I looked out just in time to see thee doorknob turn. I am not kidding you, the doorknob TURNED. Basically, we were ghost-meat. Anyway…long story short we ran the other way to the bathroom and barricaded ourselves in until my dad finally came up and, of all things, MADE LIGHT of the situation by opening the attic door and pretending to be scared while we were listening anxiously from inside the bathroom. At one point during the ordeal Rachel announced, “I’m going to pray.”
I never did feel totally comfortable in that house. But we all cried when we moved out of it. I hope someday I get to live in an old house with some character (maybe an imaginary ghost or two) of my very own.
That is why, when I am walking or driving around here I am always looking. It doesn’t matter if I see this house every day, I have to stare for as long as I can – it’s just so beautiful. I picture this house on 16 acres with all of the attendant orchards and old barns and horses. Basically I want to live in the south of France without having to give up the comfort of not having to learn another language. Oh and being close to my mom for free babysitting.
I got so nervous that someone would see me snapping pictures and wonder what I was doing that I had to be very surreptitious about my picture-taking. I also felt kind of lame taking pictures of other people’s property. So…you can’t see the front door because of the angle from either direction.
Mmmm…don’t you just love it? I just want to roll around in their front yard, I love this house so much.