A most unusual parade happened in our neighborhood last week.
It consisted of me, and Daughters Nos. 2 and 3 pushing a hand cart loaded with 200-pound cut stones for three blocks down the middle of a residential street.
Yes, you’ve heard a variation of that story before. The last time, it was Daughter No. 3 and I hauling big stones to build a wall near her house on the family farm. This time, it was the three of us hauling two stones to Daughter No. 2’s new old house!
You might wonder how many old houses one family can own.
At least one more for the Millers!
Daughter No. 2 bought an old house last month. It’s a Victorian beauty built in about 1900, and it’s just a few blocks from our house. She has been saving her pennies — every one of them — for most of the past decade so that she could invest in a house and the neighborhood where she grew up.
We are proud of her latest accomplishment, as we are of all three of our daughters.
The search for a house was challenging, given the tight housing market in central Ohio.
But our daughter was determined, and she was undaunted by several dashed efforts to buy other houses. Good thing, too. The other houses on which she sought to bid were not nearly as nice as this one.
And, remarkably, she happened into a situation very similar to the one her mother and I lucked into 37 years ago when we bought Old House No. 1. As with our first old house — and our second old house — our daughter’s new old house was owned by the same family for decades. For us, it was more than 70 years in each case.
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She bought a house that had been owned by the same family for 56 years, and fortunately for our daughter, they took good care of it. A then-young couple bought the house in 1966 and raised a family and lived out their lives there. Our daughter bought it from their estate, which was handled by one of their sons, who was thrilled that the house was going to a person from the neighborhood who appreciates history, historic preservation and old houses.
While the house was well-maintained, it is more than a century old, and like all old houses, it needs some updating and redecorating. Guess what that means for me? Another old house to work on — and write about!
It’s already a source of entertainment for the neighbors.
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They watched with delight two weeks ago as we trimmed bushes and pulled weeds, filling my old pickup truck to the point that it looked like a giant bush on wheels. We’ve been sweating over more weeding and mulching since then, and she has been dreaming about and planning interior decorating with the help of many friends and neighbors.
And last week, a couple who did a fabulous renovation of an old house in our neighborhood a few years ago were sitting on their wrap-around front porch as the cut-stone parade passed by. They were all smiles and full of good cheer for the newest homeowner on the street.
We used a hand cart that was left in our daughter’s new-to-her garage because the stones were too heavy to lift more than three feet up and into a pickup truck. And one of the two beautifully cut sandstone blocks, which were gifts from another neighbor, is now a step outside the side door to that garage. The other stone was too pretty to pass up and is awaiting a new purpose.
And I’m now looking at a growing list of things to do around the five old houses that are now part of our family.
Alan D. Miller is a former Dispatch editor who teaches journalism at Denison University and writes about old house repair and historic preservation based on personal experiences and questions from readers.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: The purchase of 1900s-era home brings total to 5 old homes for Millers