When we first walked into our cottage fifteen years ago, we saw a dilapidated older 1940s home that had been neglected for years--a leaking roof, dated paneling, torn up linoleum, failed plumbing, and an inoperable heating system. But then we saw the Googly Eyes glued to the rock fireplace and the names carved into uncured cement on the front walkway by a child’s fingers. We felt an overwhelming good vibe and a peaceful, cheerful spirit that transcended the visible wrinkles. We sat on the porch overlooking a multitude of mature trees and greenspace within the middle of town and enjoyed the sights and sounds of an unofficial bird sanctuary.
We knew we had stumbled upon something worth saving and worked to restore the home. Our extended family enjoyed the cottage over the years as both a primary residence and vacation home until we pursued short term rentals through Airbnb in 2019. Benefits of Airbnb include both sharing the home with other families and supporting the home for our own family.
When my youngest daughter Abby arrived home for spring break 2020 of her senior year in college, we were just beginning to realize the impact of COVID 19 on our lives. Two weeks later my high school closed to in person instruction and I was sent home to connect with my students online. A week later my eldest daughter Erika and her fiance Joe found themselves in the midst of a COVID 19 hotspot and uncertain wedding plans. AirBnb cancellations were rolling in.
I was excited to share our AirBnb cottage with Erika and Joe as a place for them to escape the big city and work from “home.” Abby was finishing her senior year online and soon joined her sister at the cottage where they then enjoyed over two months of sisterly bonding and family time. The sisters hiked and cooked together, and celebrated multiple milestones--college graduation, a microwedding, and the purchase of a first home. They also spent time exploring the cottage and in the process discovered another family’s story woven into letters, yearbooks, and concrete.
Chad and his family lived in the cottage two generations ago. He had left his mark on the home in the cement on the front path. As my girls explored the house during quarantine, they stumbled on an old dusty chest in the basement filled with yearbooks and letters to a boy named Chad. The letters were sent to young Chad as he spent months in the hospital—sweet letters from schoolmates and family written in beautiful cursive were carefully stored alongside black and white junior high school yearbooks. Erika told me that she was amazed to find many familiar faces in those yearbooks. The black and white portraits, while appearing to be those of her former classmates, depicted their parents and grandparents decades before. The girls said that, when ruffling through the pages, they felt truly connected to our small town through this slice of history that had been hiding below the house. The most notable find was a letter written by Chad’s grandmother to his mother, which detailed all of the love she had for the kids living with her and the time she took caring for them.
The girls were touched by the story, and wanting to know more, began to investigate online. They quickly found that Chad was related to a high school classmate of Abby’s and after getting in touch, took great joy in returning the family mementos to their rightful owners.
The girls still talk fondly about their detective work and their quarantine days at Brevard Cottage. The milestones reached and the memories made during this strange chunk of time brought all of us closer to each other and closer to understanding the true importance of our happy little cottage.
Today, our current guests asked to extend their reservation because their two young daughters were enjoying their stay so much! They are making memories and “never want to leave.” Thus continues the long tradition of family memories at our Airbnb. I look forward to the years to come!
Thanks for the lovely story @Jennifer1773.
I think it was wonderful that your girls got to have that bonding time and undertake the history of the home - detective work. Something they probably would not have done without the dreaded “2020” happenings.
So gratitude is something we need to express in these tough times.
I bet Chad’s family were full of gratitude, receiving the old family memorabilia.
I bet those googling eyes 👀 on the fireplace would have a book - worthy story or two to tell. Maybe there is some extra gratitude in the fact, they remain silent!
Hi Cathie, Yes, 2020 continues to help put things in perspective for all of us and gratitude has been a big part of our year! It was a joy to watch our girls deal with some disappointments this year (no big graduation or wedding ceremony) with grace and generosity and gratitude--and a focus on what is really important. And yes, those Googly-eyes remain silent :)--I should reassure my guests of that!
This is a great story @Jennifer1773, thank you for taking the time to share it with us - it's fantastic to hear how your daughters had some difficult times as a result of the pandemic, but also had some real good ones too 😊
Your listing certainly sounds like it has a lot of character, and I bet that's what guests love about it too. How amazing that the cottage was hiding stories from its previous inhabitants! Is it usually the case that older houses have forgotten items from the previous owners hidden away in the basement?
Thanks @Katie ! Yes I think most guests love the character of the cottage, although one was not so pleased with the sloping floors and ceilings 🙂 and indicated that in a private message to me during her review along with the dreaded 4 stars. After her comment, I started advertising these "wrinkles" and the age of the house and actually got more bookings! A big thanks to the Community Center where I learned to give a super clear picture of my listing in order to help keep everyone satisfied with their experience.
As for the items in the basement, not sure how common that is. We found a few other items in this house including some cool jars and an old fireman's helmet, but haven't discovered much in previous houses. I often see discoveries being made in old attics in the movies, but I have never had a great attic to explore! Maybe someone else has a story?
Haha amazing @Jennifer1773, was the house built sloping or has it gradually sunken a little? I'm so glad you got some great tips from the Community here 😊
I've seen some videos on social of people discovering secret doors in their old houses - super exciting to go in and do some detective work!
Hi @Katie , Yes, I think the sloping has happened gradually over time. We added some supports when we bought the place, but have hesitated in trying to raise the floor. We don't mind the sloping and everything seems stable now!
Our first home (another 1940s gem) had a secret door in the back of our daugher Erika's closet that she discovered when she was 3 years old. After the discovery she enjoyed hiding and playing in the 3ft x 6ft (1m x 2m) space beyond. She named it her "special place" --maybe where she first found her love of detective work? 🙂
@Jennifer1773 What a really fun, interesting story of the cottage and the discoveries within and your family. Thanks for sharing with us all. Blessings to you and your family.....each person has a different story no matter where they are from or when they have lived it seems. Thanks again, Clara
It sounds like Brevard Cottage is a lovely place to continue making memories, for your family and those that get to stay there @Jennifer1773 . What a great find!
Perhaps you will get to place another special rock in the fireplace or new names in wet cement at some stage too. Adding your chapter to this history .
‘’Wishing you and your family all the best for 2021 and thank you for sharing your lovely post.”
Love these stories @Jennifer1773 they are great to pass down the generations.
I'm glad you kept the footpath as it is as it adds character to your home.
Do you know what era it was laid?
One can usually tell from additives like shells, stones and other textures in t what year it's from, and of course old photos.
Were there many old photos of the home in the Treasure Trove your children found?
Here's for a little outdoors fruit history your family and other children may like to have an adventure with @Jennifer1773 .
Pinapple Oranges were produced in Brevard County in 1940.
Maybe you can locate where the grove of Arthur A Dunn, Brevard County Commissioner is and post some photographs for us so future generations may be able to find some more history linking back to your home location.
Do they still grow this species?
Pineapple Orange Floridian's Product
The girls in this story with links to the ship Ephraim Brevard which may one assume is named after Brevard County were off on a different adventure...I wonder if their relations know about this???
The Whiskey Telegraph - Brevard Township