After receiving the letter from the previous owners, I figured it would be a good idea to talk to D and M across the street about the Prairie Box. I'm not sure why I didn'tdo this sooner, as they are very nice folks and we've visited on several previous occasions. Somehow, I can't figure out how, since it's one of my obsessions, the house never came up in conversation.
But this afternoon, armed with some wayward Christmas mail for the PPOs (K and L), I stopped in and asked about the Prairie Box. And M said, "Why D's sister used to live there... About 49 years ago!" Who'd have thought? Talk about a small world. They're going to talk with her and see if she has any old pictures of the house or maybe even the property abstract. That would be like winning the lottery!
D and M also provided some insights into the property, since they are good friends with the PPOs and had visited many times throughout the years. K and L seemed like they did the most modifications to the property, including adding a garage, remuddling the porch, adding vinyl siding andfake brick, opening up the wall between the kitchen and dining room, remodeling the kitchen, finishing the basement, and putting up the paneling and ceiling tiles. I learned that the 2 car garage had been moved to the property from South Bend in the middle of the night. I also learned that the back wall of the dining room, facing the back yard, used to have a window. Not a double-hung, but a head-high one that you put a buffet underneath. D and M also told me a little about the porch that used-to-be. It had a short railing and squat craftsman columns, just as I had imagined.
I'm amazed that so many of the changes I wanted to make to the house, even before we started uncovering clues to what was original, are actual features the house used to have. Before it was remuddled, this house was everything I imagined it to be. Too bad I haven't found any built-ins that had been removed...!
D and M were amazed that we want to make the house look old again. "You're young people, don't you want it to look new?" Their home, a vernacular farmhouse, had been remuddled almost to the point of style-less-ness. It is a very nice house; clean, well-kept, and homey, but just isn't what we want. I told them that I love antiques and old homes, and that we just want to pay tribute to the character of the house while making it our own. That's what it's about for everyone, after all: creating a vision of home.