It has been a tough year for many of us. We actually considered selling our cottage when one of our guests made us an offer. My husband suggested I write a pro and con list about keeping vs selling and I thought "Hmph. That never works!" I tried it to keep him quiet. The result? A love letter to our little cottage. No way could I part with it. This little exercise helped me to focus on the positive when chaos reigns in the world. Here are some of the things I think truly make our place special.
1. History. Our cottage was built in 1850 as a one room schoolhouse that served the families who worked on the Francis Scott Key Estate. We have a picture of the last class of kids in our living room-- it hangs in the archive of the county as well. I often think about what it would have been like to walk up our driveway, books in hand, ready for the day's lessons. Where did those kids end up? One day I want to do more research.
2. The stone. Our walls are made from 18 inches of locally quarried stones. Its a variety of granite that was depleted in the 1920s. The tawny pink color is unusual and beautiful. Our place isn't going ANYWHERE in a tornado!
3. The porch. Coffee in the morning is a divine retreat, especially in the midst of 2020 crazy. We added the rockers, but the view of the big old trees over the drive is original to the house.
4. The layout. We enjoy entertaining our family at our cottage between guests. Each bedroom has its own adjoining bath which makes for privacy. Our first floor bedroom works well for guests who don't want to climb our steep old stairs, like our crippled pup.
5. The wildlife. We have seen fox, snakes, squirrels, rabbits, cats, woodpeckers, blue birds, ravens, owls, opossum, skunk, deer, and yes, even a pheasant in our yard at the cottage. So much fun to sit quietly and just observe what wanders by. I REALLY want to get a wildlife camera and see what sorts of other residents we have!
6. Chickens! Not exactly wildlife but our delightful neighbors have chickens which give us no end of fun fowlpeeping.
7. Gardens. I can't take credit for a lot of the plantings as the former owners definitely had green thumbs. Every spring its an absolute joy to see what pops out of the ground. Even in winter we have pops of color from evergreens and rowan berries.
8. Fire! A wood burning fireplace indoors and permanent fire pit outdoors really make cooler weather an event met with keen anticipation. Our only challenge is ensuring guests are as safe as they are enthusiastic.
9. Clawfoot tub. Showers may reign in the world, but I am a bath person through and through. Candles and a soak in our old clawfoot-- take me away!
10. Reclaimed materials. Our kitchen cabinets, interior doors and (believe it or not) bathroom floors are made of old barn wood from a tear down not 5 miles away. One of the owners collected the materials and made both in the 1940s. In the days before recycling and the popularity of reclaimed products, that guy had real vision. I love the character and unique charm our place has as a result.
11. Away-ness. In the height of summer, our cottage feels like its in its own bubble of time and space. Its own world. The trees hang over the property, the plants are full and lush-- it looks like a storybook escape. The uniqueness of the space is something I truly treasure.
12. Fireflies! I am not exaggerating when I say that the fireflies are truly spectacular from June to late August. I often try to get video of them doing their dance but my camera just isn't good enough. I live for their light show. There's no pandemic, no bills due, no work annoyances, no family drama, no aches and pains.
It helps to remember the things we want to hold close at this time of the year. I would love to hear what other hosts treasure about their spaces. Happy Holidays!
@Laura2592 @ I understand you so well! Some house is not only a property but a treasure and the sentimental value far exceeds the commercial price. Thank you for you interesting story about your cottage,
I love your place. I'm a big stonework fan and have done a lot myself, and yours is really beautiful and unique. You should definitely hang onto the place, unless you're starving- it's not like it's just some cookie-cutter suburban house that you could sell without any emotional attachment.
Thanks for the lovely post @Laura2592.
It’s very evident that you have a big crush on this stone cottage: and no pros and con list would make a difference to the outcome!
I can feel it's charm....
With all the chaos and impermanence of 2020, it is an anchor!
Thanks @Laura2592 , always love reading stories on the history of homes and places.
Aren't they such clever people to have used the natural materials available that they had with the
the limited means they had?
Do you know if there's any Francis Scott Key Roses in your Garden?
If there is, or if you have any photos of that particular Rose named after him would you please put a photo online?
We have had them at some stage in New Zealand and it would be awesome if we could all see if we can find where the original ones are still in our Public Domains and Gardens.
@Helen427wow how interesting! I will do some research. We have roses on the grounds but they are the spray type. Terra Rubra was the Key home and they probably cultivate all kinds of things because it was a working farm. I am definitely going to look into it.
@J-Renato0and @everyone-else including those in Epping, New South Wales, Australia
I've looked a little further into Francis Scott Key Rose and found the following that may be of interest
Rosarian John Cook (also known as Johann Koch) cultivated world renown blooms from his West Baltimore greenhouse
Helpfindme which is a data base with loads of great information about plants and flowers and Roses
John Cook and Son who was the breeder and creator of this Rose
Hazlewood Bros in Epping, New South Wales were suppliers of Francis Scott Key Roses so there may well be some still growing in and around that area of Australia.
There's a colour photograph of Francis Scott Rose in this link belonging to helpfindme and now we know what this Rose looks like thanks very, very much to those wonderful contributors on that website we can go on an adventure to find Roses..
It sounds absolutely delightful!!! If I ever get anywhere near your area, I shall definitely be looking to check this out. Thank you for sharing this lovely passion!
It's so touching to read this love letter to your listing @Laura2592, it's clear that the decision to keep it is definitely the right one! From the history to the wildlife, it has it all 😊
I think this year more than ever you probably needed the porch and the away-ness to find your oasis in the midst of 2020 madness.
Fingers crossed Santa brings you the wildlife cam as it would be fascinating to see which animals are living quietly alongside you there 🎁
I've got a resident squirrel who is burying things in my plant pots. Apparently they are getting much more brazen and even jumping onto people to say hello here in London parks, as they miss being fed by walkers 🐿 🌰
Your cottage seems so cozy and amazing, @Laura2592! It's really nice to see how much you treasure it.
I know you mentioned you couldn't capture the fireflies, but have you got any pictures of the animals you mentioned? It would be lovely to see those 😊
Baby goat alert!
@Livfunny you should mention. We just started an Instagram feed for our cottage so I have been combing through my phone to see what I have captured. Here is a hen party, the fox after waking up from his den in the woods, a feral cat we call Smokescreen, my own ham of a cat Buster Beans (aka The Beans) and my sweet dog Archie wanting a walk.
My dad built our family homes in the early 1940's, the early 1960's and a vacation home in the 1980's. He used any reclaimed wood and doors he could find, each time. It may have been mostly to save money, but he certainly was recycling a lot of stuff that would have been thrown away.