Visit our Facebook page or our Instagram to see which two colors we are leaning towards for the siding of Sligo.
Visit our Facebook page or our Instagram to see which two colors we are leaning towards for the siding of Sligo.
I know, I know. You all (y’all where I’m from but I’ll try and make my English teachers proud) have been waiting with baited breath to hear about the architectural change we have been planning. I would like for you to keep your expectations low, something I have come to master over my adult life, and know that I’m making a big deal out of nothing.
There are a pair of French doors off the back parlor room of the house. They’re narrow and have a door jamb in between each door making them awkward and pointless. Not to mention they aren’t original to the house as indicated by the framing uncovered when Habalis removed the siding.
So, we have decided to take the French doors out and replace them with what would have been there originally, floor to almost ceiling windows that match the windows in the front parlor. We had to make sure that we were correct in assuming there were windows before there were French doors in order to keep the Department of Historic Resources happy and that’s OK. In the end it will look so much nicer and more authentic.
When we met at Sligo with Dovetail Cultural Group a few weeks ago it was like a light bulb went off with one of the more confusing aspects of the house. I’ll try and describe it from the basement up to the 2nd floor of the house.
In the basement there are obvious remains of an old stairwell. Just above that is currently a very long and narrow half bathroom. And, just above that, is a small room just off the master bedroom that doesn’t seem to have much purpose (it was really the most confounding of spaces). However, it was our tour with Dovetail that helped enlighten us and it turns out all three spaces would have been the servant’s stairs, just on the other side of the main stairs. The picture that I received of Sligo in her original state shows a door off the front porch which would also lead one to believe that this would have been the servant’s stairs. At some point in the last 120 years that was changed to incorporate a life without servants (I’m guessing…although can I have servants? Or at least a nanny? Maybe a maid? Fine, just a personal shopper. I don’t ask for much).
Our plans for the basement space will probably be a full bath in order to incorporate apartment living on that level. On the 1st floor that space will remain a 1/2 bath but will also include a washer and dryer. On the 2nd floor we plan on adding a wall, another doorway and turning that basically unusable space into a master bathroom. It all makes sense in my head so I apologize if it reads really crazy.
I’m including pictures to try and give an idea of what I am talking about but keep in mind it’s dark in the house because many, if not all, of the windows are boarded up. Also, enjoy a cameo from Twila & Co.!
27 December 2018: Exciting Update! Scroll to the bottom…
We are starting to make big decisions regarding Sligo and surprisingly murder isn’t one of them. We have *drumroll please*…chosen the roof color! The current roof is silver metal and we have decided to replace it with a dark bronze metal. I took a picture of the roof sample but the color doesn’t really come through so just take my word for it: It’s dark. It’s bronze. And it’s metal.
We have also made the decision to convert one of the small additions in the back of the house to it’s original state of a screened-in porch. It currently seems to be an office space of sorts but from the beginning I never felt like that’s what it was. It kind of felt like a room with walls that had been stapled up. So, when we realized it had once been a screened-in porch (which is something we wanted anyway) we decided to take it back to such. On either side of the screened-in porch will be open porches which will connect with a wrap-around. Does that make sense? I think it will also be more true to the original home which is something we are striving for.
We met with Dovetail Cultural Group and Habalis to discuss some of the changes we plan to make and ensure that they would be allowable for tax credits and the National Historic Registry. One of the more exciting finds just happened to be with the aforementioned porch.
Everyone agreed that at one point in time this portion of the house was a porch. It was the Habalis representative who speculated that there was a door still in the wall…and sure enough! The door was still there, behind the drywall. So, was this area a portico? A sort of second entrance? I think it was more than just a screened-in porch. Were sleeping porches a thing in Virginia? I have no clue how this will work into our idea for a screened-in porch but I have faith in Habalis and that they know what they’re doing when it comes to preservation.
Everyone asks what our time frame is for moving into the Cottage House. I tell folks that Marcus’s estimate has us moving in after Christmas. I say since we’re throwing out arbitrary holidays I’m gonna go ahead and guesstimate that we’ll move in around Easter. Or maybe National Doughnut Day (it might not be a holiday to you but it is to me).
As it currently stands, the Cottage House does not have interior walls but it does have a new roof. It also has new electric wiring throughout and the rooms and closet space for each have been roughed out but again, no walls. Unfortunately, it will need new floors throughout as the current wood floors are just a mess, having been rotted through. The kitchen is in surprisingly good shape and we won’t change much except to remove an exterior door and turn it into a wall for more space. It also needs windows to be replaced and a new HVAC system installed. Also, it needs a bathroom. All of the aforementioned needs to happen in the next 6 weeks for us to move in “after Christmas” hence the reason for my disbelief.
We are also in the process of employing Dovetail Cultural Resource Group to help us with the Virginia Landmarks Register (VLR) and National Historic Registry (NHR) and the tax credit process. I did a little bit of the research on my own and we made it through two rounds of the VLR process but, as we got deeper, I realized my knowledge of historical research was limited and it is much more involved than just filling out a paper with what we think we know and getting approved for thousands of dollars in tax credits. I don’t know why the government doesn’t just hand over money willy nilly?
And, as far as the Main House and any updates with that…there aren’t any. Marcus has talked about being in the house by his birthday next year which is in August. My guesstimate for that move-in date is National Sibling Day 2020.
Happy Halloween! I know, it’s a day late and a buck short. Is that the saying? I tend to get those wrong. Earlier today I told Marcus that by doing something I would only be adding “fuel to the fodder” and as I said it I knew it was wrong but I didn’t care. And yes, it’s most redundant but let’s just go with it.
For a hot second (now I know that’s correct) I had toyed with the idea of having a little Halloween ghost hunt party at Sligo but I lost my nerve. Plus, it gets complicated with two little ones who actually participate in trick-or-treating and once they heard about the idea of a party they thought they would be involved and everything fell apart before it even began.
Also, I don’t really think the house is haunted. It is scary looking but that’s only because of its current state of disrepair. Besides, when I took our dog into the house he seemed right at home. He is a giant galoot but I figured if there were an otherworldly presence then an animal would be the one to sense it. I was concerned he would start staring at something only he could see and he never did so either the house is not haunted or he was too busy being a pain in the ass to notice (honestly it’s probably the latter).
I am surprised that we didn’t get any calls from the police this past weekend or last night. I figured there would be kids daring each other to go up to the house on Halloween night. One day I hope I can be at the house giving out giant candy bars to those brave kiddos who make that long walk up the driveway. There was a house like that in my childhood neighborhood. It was scary only because it was old and big and had a small family cemetery behind it. I remember building up the nerve on the last Halloween living in that particular neighborhood and was greatly rewarded with a giant candy bar so now I’m ready to pay it forward.
Anyway, on to Thanksgiving and then Christmas we go. The plan is to be the living in the Cottage House after Christmas but at this exact moment there aren’t any walls and the floors are rotted so…maybe it will be Easter by the time we move. Again.
We had a little excitement over the weekend when ADT called to inform us of a potential break-in at Sligo. As luck would have it, we were close and able to meet the police at the property. Also as luck would have it, I was about three beers and two glasses of wine into the afternoon (before you judge, it was my girlfriend’s birthday and I don’t drink like that all of the time…I mean, I might do that every other day, but definitely not every day) and was looking especially cute. I only mention that last part about looking cute because, as it turns out, the responding officers were extremely good looking and it was just really a nice chance to meet the friendly neighborhood enforcers of the law, possibly exchange numbers,
find out if they’re single, and overall get a really nice sense of community. I should mention that I did not drive myself, Marcus was with me and he was sober and even he admitted the police were attractive because he’s that confident in his masculinity and our relationship. Also, my going on and on about exactly just how cute these police officers were had nothing to do with my alcohol consumption.
To get to the real meat of the story (see what I did there?), it turns out it was a false alarm or, if someone had been trying to get in, they were gone by the time we got there. Unfortunately, someone shattered a storm door on the Cottage House, I’m guessing in an attempt to get in. The best part about that is one entire side of the Cottage House is covered with a tarp and the perpetrator(s) could just as easily have lifted the tarp and entered that way but, I suppose criminals aren’t always known for their common sense.
It isn’t surprising that people are still coming onto the property. It has been vacant for so long and the Cottage House was clearly a place that squatters would frequent. From day one I have been concerned that as work starts, people will come along and trash what we have done. At the moment, one or two more broken window panes won’t hurt but once the real work starts and they start messing with my home, well, then I may have to send a petrified British soldier after their asses.
Marcus travels a lot. It’s become only slightly easier to deal with as the years go by but, with that being said, every new house we move into brings with it a period of time in which I have to readjust. Mostly the readjustment period is me dealing with irrational fears of being home alone with the kids and something scary happening like an intruder or a fire but it has definitely resulted in a few sleepless nights.
I may or may not have mentioned the fact that I’m a worrier. Someone needs to be in this family. For example, I am the type of person that takes the tornado warnings seriously, gathering the children and pets and huddling in the bathroom. Marcus is the type of person who sees the warning and rolls back over to sleep. So, I don’t know if that’s a worrier problem or just a protective mother problem but either way I suppose it’s a problem when it affects my sleep (’cause Lord knows I love my sleep).
So, now I find myself having sleepless nights worrying about how I’m going to fall asleep the first night that Marcus is gone and I find myself alone in the new house. For one, the house has been vacant, and the whole area knows it, and I’m worried someone is going to try and get in. Secondly, I’m worried that the house is so old the wiring will set it on fire.
I’m also worried that the ghosts are going to get me or are going to mess with my girls Scratch that, I’m more worried about them messing with me…the girls can fend for themselves in this case. If something sits on my bed in the middle of the night, I’m out (and there’s a very real chance of this happening because we have a cat and I’m more of a react now ask questions later type of person). It’s every man for himself in the night if ghosts are involved.
There you have it. I can’t sleep for fear of not being able to sleep. That could be the very definition of crazy.
We have started the process for registering Sligo with the Virginia Landmarks Register (VLR). Surprisingly, it does not appear that anyone before us has attempted to do the same. I am fairly certain the house would not qualify for the National Historic Registry but it may qualify for the VLR. This isn’t to say that our application will be approved; I don’t know what exactly they’re looking for and it’s doubtful that just the age of home will land it on the registry but it’s worth a try. If we can get it on the registry then we may qualify for tax credits which will help immensely.
It saddens me that the property was left to fall apart for so long but I also understand how a home this size and age can get away from a person. For comparison’s sake, our current house is a mere 27 years old and it was in such a state of disrepair that it was foreclosed because the owner couldn’t keep-up with the repairs. I think it goes without saying that it was Marcus who found both Sligo and our current home. I also did a little house hunting and kept finding perfectly fine homes without holes in the ceiling or nests in closets or ancient animal carcasses in the basement but I guess because they didn’t have any of those issues they weren’t interesting enough for Marcus.
Some of you may have looked-up the Zillow listing of Sligo and seen the interior pictures. I had, too, before seeing it in person. The pictures still didn’t prepare me for what the house looked like in person. Some of you might have wondered what I thought when I saw Sligo for the first time, in person. Take it away Tyra:
I don’t mean to be dramatic but…maybe I was a little dramatic. To be fair, this was the first thing I saw when I drove up the driveway:
That boded well for the rest of the viewing. The next thing I noticed was the smell. It turns out the cottage had a fresh animal carcass just inside the door and the smell was permeating the perimeter of the property (alliteration!). Sorry, I didn’t get a picture of that; I pretty much avoided that area like, well, like a dead animal was near by.
Once inside the main house, the first room I entered was the kitchen which is located on the south of the house (and trust me I usually have no clue which way is north, south, east, or west but I’ve been looking at maps for the VLR application and feeling frisky). Directly to the right of the entrance was a small room which was full of random stuff.
As I walked past the kitchen I entered a dark hallway and what used to be a bathroom. Past that was a second small room and then the two main rooms of the first floor plus the foyer which is a room in itself.
As I continued walking through the house I came to the two main rooms of the house. Both were left in a state of disrepair with quite a lot of old and broken furniture and just general stuff piled in corners. However, the one thing I saw and grudgingly admitted was amazing, were the very large, double pocket doors that separated the two rooms.
From there, I gingerly picked my way over the broken glass and trash bags full of stuff and headed up the stairs. The stairs are in amazing shape and are about four or five feet wide. At first I thought maybe the stairs were so wide because of the style of dress in the 1890s but now I’m not so sure. I was envisioning hoop skirts for that time period but after a quick Internet search I know that’s not correct. Too bad because I was really hoping for a Scarlett O’Hara moment and maybe even a dramatic goodbye kiss with Marcus at the front door (not insinuating he’s going to leave me but we’re only just at the beginning of this renovation process and we still like each other).
The stair banister is slightly worrisome for me (Hello, my name is Lauren and I’m a worrier) because it stands about four feet tall but Marcus pointed out it would be he or I that would be more likely to fall over since it hits at our hip or lower. So, as long as the ghosts are friendly and aren’t the pushing kind I’ll be fine though I might avoid walking on that side of the stairs until the ghosts and I have established boundaries.
The three rooms upstairs were all in relatively good shape with the exception of the broken windows and plants growing through them oh, and the nests. Have I mentioned the nests? The bathroom upstairs was in the worst shape of all the upstairs space though it would appear that some work was being done before the previous owners left. After the second floor I went to the basement which I touched-on in a separate post but can’t stress enough just how dark and creepy it was.
I suppose that’s it. I just scrolled to the top and saw that I originally started to write this post about the application with the VLR so, my apologies, I know I went off on a tangent there.
The windows are amazing. In the front room of the first floor they are at least 8′ tall. (It should be noted that the ceiling height is a whopping 12.’ I have no idea how to decorate for 12′ high ceilings. I mean, I have a hard time hanging pictures at eye level…or just level, really, so this will be a personal challenge.) I won’t even go into the question of decorating the windows and how I’ve sat and pondered over what kind of curtains and curtain rods or shades or blinds or posters or sheets or aluminum foil or whatever we’ll be able to afford when this is over and we’re house poor but we’ll still need to cover the windows. *deep breath in, breathe out*
About 50% of the windows have broken panes of glass and all of them are in varying states of deterioration. Mother Nature has also done an impressive job of reclaiming her space and ivy is climbing through the glass that is broken. Our oldest daughter was particularly thrilled by the ivy through the window and argued for it to remain. She is quite the nature lover and we would do anything for her but this won’t be one of them. She also wanted a life-size, mechanical dragon that can fly her around the world which we were, shockingly, unable to deliver so she’s used to overcoming her disappointment in our failure as parents.
I believe we would like to save as many of the original windows as possible. At the same time, I’m of the opinion that if some of the windows turn-out to be “new” then those should be replaced. Really the only certainty is that the plants cannot stay.