Saturday, July 2, 2011

Potential

I think it's probably a carry over from my youth, when we occasionally worked on rent houses. Cleaning, painting, roofing, shampooing carpet--turning something foul-smelling, grubby and abandoned into a brave, little humble home that was livable. Anyway, whenever I see neglected houses, I repair them in my mind...and if  I get the chance to walk through a house, I automatically imagine it clean, painted, and freshly carpeted. Here's one I noticed on my walk this morning:

The roof's in terrible shape, and it needs a front porch, but I found myself wanting to paint it all white and yellow, mow the grass, and put it in shape. There it sits at the edge of a huge lot--half a block of lawn with a massive tree in the center--a tree with low-hanging branches just right for climbing.

There's a lot of these little houses in our town...because small towns are becoming smaller and dying away. It's sad. The prime time properties around the courthouse square sit empty. They don't cost much, but there's a hitch: businesses can't make enough money to survive. There are no customers. Everybody rushes to the city to shop at huge stores, spending lots of money on gas, yet thinking they've found great bargains. 

Here's a gorgeous building right on the square, all painted and ready for someone to rent. In my mind I've turned it into all sorts of shops--music shops, clay shops, a place for lessons and consultations, even an apartment.
If you walk behind the large buildings on the square, there's another surprise waiting. Just look at this private courtyard waiting to happen. If you built a couple of high fences, there'd be a lovely little hidden garden, right behind the store. If the old rooms on the second floor were restored and turned into an apartment, someone could live above the business. I've been in some of these buildings. The old wooden staircases lead to wainscoting and half glass doors--a set of rooms and offices right out of the forties. With a little modernizing, you could be in retro style without trying. Sigh.


I'd put in new windows...just as large as they ever were and a lot more energy efficient. Then I'd rake this yard and get rid of all the trash...put in a fountain--just a little one against the wall-- and a cement bench or two.  If you walked by the front of my building you wouldn't know it from the rest--the line of bustling shops so uniform in their stolid facades. I'd probably be sitting out in the garden reading a book...or painting something.

12 comments:

Susannah said...

Oh I am like you too! I am always redecorating places in my mind and when I visit peoples houses, my mind is on a spree.

I see your visions for all of these! :-)

Nice post.

Amanda said...

That's exactly why I support local whenever possible.

oldegg said...

There is a terrible sadness in this post. You can see the possibilities, the beauty in the waste and neglect and I applaud you for your vision. Progress is an ugly word especially when small towns, buildings and communities die because of the power of multinationals, advertising, thoughtlessness and greed.

This is a most beautiful and touching piece of work that has a small spark of hope that can be worked on.

alivealways said...

You got quite an imagination and yes for the better. It's nice that way you pointed out silly habits that people so dearly pursue.

Abigail Bunting said...

Ah yes, the wasted potential of houses like these is very sad.
One of these houses was on our street- a big, bright blue Victorian. Windows had been broken, and the porch was crumbling in on itself. But recently a family moved in, repainted, made repairs, and put in a garden. It hardly looks like the same house anymore. It's amazing what a little 'elbow grease' can do.

Altonian said...

A nice, conscience driven piece, that reflects what is going on all over the place. Sadly 'progress' is ruining pretty well everything.

jaerose said...

Wasted potential..isn't it universal..it's not just the buildings I guess but the lives those buildings could contain..as long as people keep imagining though building is possible..Jae

Jingle said...

sharp, deep thoughts shared.
hope that more actions are taken to reinforce changes.

Kim Nelson said...

I loved this guided walk through your neighborhood and your imagination. You would create a wonderful, warm community, Lilibeth!

sharplittlepencil said...

Loved the "finished" little shop and agree it would be perfect for a pottery! (They would open the space in evenings for open mic poetry, no doubt!!)

We are dedicated LOCAL buyers, even in a town as large as Madison. Loads of local shops, a farmer's market, a butcher who buys organic meat from a nearby farmer. And of course, Wisconsin cheese and a plethora of micro-breweries make life fun. Thanks for the tour! Peace, Lilibeth. Amy
http://sharplittlepencil.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/unexpected-turn-wordling-whirl/

aftergrace said...

I do the very same thing you do, I always have all kinds of ideas for buildings.

J Cosmo Newbery said...

Thank you for the insight into your world.