House Hunting, pt 1
February 4, 2005
Now that we’re settled into Saint Paul for a while, we’ve decided to try to buy our first house (in fact, live in our first house, without parents anyway =). The process of finding an affordable house in the right location, with the right amount of space, whose roof isn’t about to collapse, and that isn’t in imminent danger from next-door-neighbor drug dealers... is difficult, to say the least.
But we have some hope for being rewarded. We saw a nice place tonight that feels very good and right, and a few others that would be more-or-less acceptable. I don’t want to give out pictures or addresses, but of course I’ll be showing off when/if we make a purchase.
We’ve been looking at houses that range in age from 1904 (or was it 1910?) to 1960. We almost looked at an 1886 tonight, but someone just closed on it on Tuesday (save money on interest by closing on the last day of the month, for those of you who like us did not know…). There are a lot of Victorian homes around Saint Paul, many of them quite affordable. Except that most are in the worst parts of town, crime wise.
We’ve seen all kinds of appliances, with the most interesting being the really old stoves, some of which were so dingy as to be scary, some of which were cool retro 50’s. And then there’s this gem. Unlike every other house, the owners are taking this with them =).
I wish I had a picture of the Armageddon Room, as I’ve dubbed the one and only root cellar we’ve seen. It was a half excavated space under the basement stairs — that is, the floor was a pile of dirt under the foundation, with a small walking space beat down in front of some shelves. A bare light bulb hung above, and a small window let in a ton of sunshine reflecting off the snow. The cobwebs were as thick as I’ve ever seen. Without the light off the snow, it would have been truly spooky in a Poltergeist kind of way.
One more thing — the 1904 house had a coal room. A room with a floor sloped so that the coal would settle down close to the door, where it would be easy to shovel into the furnace. For a Texas boy like me, that was quite the startlingly new concept — a coal furnace in an American home. It also had a door on the 2nd floor that led to nowhere. Apparently people used to use it as a convenient place to shake out brooms and rugs without having to go downstairs. Very strange.