Sunday, May 18, 2008

Meet the Family--Blackrock

I've been meaning to post about our house for a long time now, except it's really hard to know what to say. The house is pretty much like a member of the family. Whether it's like an infant demanding care and attention at all times but with the potential for greatness in the future, or an elderly grandparent requiring periodic large financial investments to keep in working order, depends on my mood. But like any proper family member, it has a name. And its name is Blackrock.

Well, it's not like there's a sign at the foot of the driveway saying "Blackrock." And actually, no one else really calls it that. The name was created as a joke by one of A.'s cousins, or maybe his brother, and I just think it's the perfect name for the house. Stately and faintly sinister, which is as good a description of the house as any.

See, the thing is, Blackrock sort of defies description. I mean, I can give you the stats: Built 1860s, Gothic-style cobblestone, 18 rooms (yes, you read that right). But the character of the place is totally unique. It's been in A.'s family for over 100 years--we are the 6th generation to live here. The house and the 6 acres it sits on are what is left of a massive farm purchased in the 1890s that was slowly sold off by the family over the years. Most of the furnishings date to around the turn of the 20th century. They come with the house. The kind of history that evolves from such a long period of continuous occupation is so different from the modern world, the world that I grew up in, that the word "rooted" doesn't even seem strong enough.

It is a beautiful, very impressive house. And it is also a royal pain in the ass. If you've never lived in a very old house, you can't have any idea of how difficult the most simple task becomes. There is a constant parade of workmen here, and they all get the same look of bewilderment and astonishment when they see the mess of electrical wires in the basement, the defunct water pipes, the push-button light switches, the asbestos-lined heating ducts, the ABSOLUTE CHAOS that resulted as various modern improvements were added randomly throughout the decades. Everything that we have to have done, even something like getting a new door for the cellar to replace the rotted one, for which we've been waiting for EIGHT MONTHS, becomes an ordeal. Everything has to be custom, and everything costs triple what we think it will. We have the family house, but the family money is long gone. This is why most old family homes get sold, of course, but A. would sooner sell an organ than sell this house, so here we are, hanging on while the modern world moves in all around and taxes go up.

Yet, despite all the aggravation, hard work, and constant financial drain, we love this house. I love this house. I'm proud of it. It is special and unique. You can buy an old house, but you can't buy the family history and pride that we have here. So here we stay, the latest in a long line of the keepers of Blackrock.

The End.


Doreen said...

Your old house sounds wonderful. I've always longed for an old family home. I'm sure the work is tremendous but you are lucky to have such a gem.

What part of upstate NY do you live in...I'm in Vermont...about 20 minutes from Manchester.


SaraPMcC said...

What a beautiful tribute to your royal pain in the ass! Actually, it really sounds like a beautiful home (even if your name for it scares me a little because it reminds me of the Black Rock on Lost). You should be proud of the family history. How many people can say they have a home like that?

The Barber Bunch said...

I LOVE Old Farm Houses.

I would love to see a pic of the house.

The house is lucky to have someone like you to care for it.


Krysta said...

Where's the pictures? I think of my old home a very demanding diva. Kinda like J-Lo which is appropiate since it is a spanish house.

Anonymous said...

Last night at a meeting a cobblestone-obsessive showed a slide of your house, pointed out the detailing, and said,"THAT is why cobblestones ceased to be built, and that is also why, probably, all the cobblestone masons ended up in insane asylums!" Don't take it wrong.It was his way of expressing amazement at the beauty and detail of your house.

Mikey (who probably WILL eat anything, just not with anchovies, and isn't really anonymous)

The Barber Bunch said...

Thanks for the Pic. The House is lovely!

I can see why you love it!


labibliovore said...

This is such a lovely ode to your house. Why did you leave?