I hate when houses get ripped down.
Go for a walk. Put your headphones in, turn on your favorite music, and just walk endlessly. But don’t watch the ground while you’re doing it, look at the houses.
A funeral home director told me a story this morning about a woman that he knew that had died, her obituary was going in the paper this morning. At the end of his phone call he said, “Ellen, make sure while you’re doing this job that you remember that every single person has a story.” I won’t ever forget that, of course.
People aren’t the only ones that have stories, though. Houses do, too. But, though every single house has a story, only a select number of them are remembered.
For example, the Silas M. Clark house on the corner of 6th and Wayne in Indiana, built in 1869, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Anyone can find out the story behind it and the contributions its made it the community through the years. There are websites dedicated to the house and hundreds of pictures in a Google search.
The same goes for a brick-revival mansion in my hometown, a 5400 square-foot, five bedroom, gorgeous house that’s somehow only on the market for $149,000.
But what about the normal houses? The ones that normal people lived in?
The last time I went home, we took a back road out to a restaurant, a road I had been on a million times before. Growing up, I always called a dilapidated, probably hopeless house out in the country my “dream house.” Honestly, if I ever had the money and the urge to move back to the area, I would have bought it and spent every last penny making it the perfect, wrap-around porch farmhouse I’ve always wanted.
But it was gone.
Ripped down. In its place was a gas pad.
No one even knew the house was there though, there was no one to miss it.
That house had a life once, though. Judging by the architecture and the amount of deterioration from not being lived in, that house was built before the common luxuries of life.
Someone in that house washed their clothes in the bathtub and hung them out to dry in the backyard. The kids would play outside and the bell on the porch would be rung when it was time for dinner (ignore my farm life cliche). The people that lived there worked hard to maintain their property, the huge amount of acreage they probably had, and maybe had a horse or two on the side.
In Indiana, beautiful houses, new and old are being ripped down left and right to make room for student housing. In the days when Indiana University of Pennsylvania was just one building, Sutton Hall, the surrounding area was covered in houses. All of those people were kicked out to make room for bigger, better things.
My parents built their house. To this day it is still (and always will be because my mother is way too hip for her own good) a work in progress. They raised three children in it. It was the central hub for hang out sessions for all three kids, their classmates, the entire high school band and countless family get togethers. I know my parents house, though short still, has lived a good life. And one can only hope that it continues to have one for a hundred years to come, or more.
I acknowledge that change is a great thing, and that sometimes the old needs to be ripped down for the new– I just want people to start remembering first.