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Published: November 20th 2010
and..theres two of them.
ground floor living room, note the double doors and the chandeliers that caught our eyes.
A young couple tells me of their plans to renovate their new home to fit their needs while still preserving its historic character.
So fellow photographer, Carly and I are doing some late afternoon shooting on the cobbled streets of Alexandria when I see this gorgeous chandelier hanging down in crystal tiers through the window of what looked like a pretty jazzy row house. So, like a creeper, I took a peek and seeing that it was empty began firing away.
A woman strolling with her husband noticed us and commented that she loves this house, the inside would be great to photograph too. She has walked by many times while it was occupied and she always had to have a look.
"I am interested to see what the new owners decide to do with it. So many young people have money these days, it is surprising! I hope they decide to emphasize the beauty in its history."
While it is true that new technology, internet business and digital endeavors are helping young yuppies toward success, she wasn't kidding. The new owners threw down some serious cash to get a hold of and preserve this house; six million dollars in
Entering through the archways, the bare spot is where the elevator used to be.
For this house?
"It sold for six million. Do you know the story of this house?"
Originally built as a bank, it had later been owned by a governor in the 1800's. A lot of the original architecture is intact.
After the woman carried on, I tried the door handle..to..um..make sure it was locked up so no strangers could come in and start taking photographs unsupervised..
It was locked.
As I turned, I saw a shadow in the window. "There is someone in there!" I exclaimed to Carly.
I did a double take and there was no one. Wait wait! I swear I saw someone. We waited.
I had been waiting to have a ghostly, paranormal experience for ages desperately venturing into old buildings with friends or on tours while living in Savannah. The hell I was going to miss my chance now!
There was no one.
As soon as I was proud to atleast seen a dark figure I could brag was a ghost, I turned to take one more look and there he was staring out the window at me. YES!
No. The latches turned.
Can I help you? The man asked,
basement kitchen view 2
They used multiple stability techniques in building this home, from archways to double crossing the wood beams in the walls.
poking his head out the door?
"We were just admiring your home," Carly said. "I love those chandeliers."
As we turned to go, "would you like to have a look?" he called after us.
Walking through the double doors, we entered a massive parlor room with two of the sparkling chandeliers seen from the window. The place was massive, what I took to be another apartment from the outside was really just a second door because of its beginning as a bank.
He led us down a flight of stairs and as I glanced up I saw the winding staircase climb four more flights high from the ground floor!
Once in the basement, we walked through a series of archways toward the back wall where there was a clearing in the aged brick, an elevator had been removed.
"This was designed as a staff kitchen." I could picture it perfectly. Kitchen attendants bustling around, gastronomic masterpieces carried on silver platters out to the noble lot. I pictured feasts being prepared on the large stone island that until recently had sat in the middle of the room.
"We loved it and wanted to keep it, but we just
Good on the glutes!
"People ask me, 'even with all these stairs your sure you don't want the elevator?'"
couldn't picture living in the basement." The kitchen, now, has become the lively room in homes. The hang out as hosts prepare food for the party and guests chat uncorking the wine they brought over for the hosts. It is a social room not meant only for help anymore, which lack there of a kitchen becomes obsolete for a starter family with a two year old.
Making our way up to the second and third floors, we see an equally large sitting room as the down stairs whose candy striped curtains recalled an air of opulence and splendor similar to rooms I saw in the luxury of Rococo homes in art history class. With a fire place at each end and gleaming hardwood floors it will continue to make an excellent family room.
The the fourth floor, what I immediately dubbed the penthouse suite. A entry room sectioned off by large double doors which opened into a master bedroom, which led into a marble bathroom. All marble, with his and her sinks on each side of the walls, a jacuzzi bathtub (obviously the previous owners updated some appliances, and the new owner has plans of hooking surround sound
Second floor sitting room.
up to his Iphone..) and lovely pearled borders etched into the mirrors.
The couple plans to knock one wall down and fill in the door to create a room for their youngest who is already enjoying that expansive bathtub.
It was incredible, perhaps more incredible than having a paranormal experience. I am interested to hear their thoughts on living in such an old house and if there have been any "coincidences".
As an architecture and interior design enthusiast, along with lover of all things shiny and pretty, I had a wonderful time and was so grateful this man invited us in and gave us the tour of his home. Their estimated time to be completely finished is in May.
His wife, a professor of architecture and historic preservation in Charleston, is the one leading this homes renovation. I plan to go back and speak with her more about her plans for their home for an article I am writing. I will post the link here along with updated pictures to show the before and after upon finishing it! Think of these as a teaser, I know I did.
Architecture and old houses are a key
"my two year old is already enjoying that tub with his battleships."
into the past. They hold all sorts of history in their lifetime. They house what is left behind. Next time you are in a historic town, don't just take a tour, take a ghost tour! There are all kinds to suite your travel style. Here are a few;
1. See if there is a haunted bus or hearse tour available. It is good for seeing key sites all in one route that are not with in walking distance of each other.
2. Walking tours are great because they allow you to actually go into places instead of view it from afar and follow around your tour guide whose costume often provides additional entertainment, plus you'll be ready to run as soon as the freaky stuff starts.
3. Haunted pub crawls take you through the history and tales of the building while stopping in each to grab a beverage. I like to go with traditional drinks specific to that area, place, history. However, be careful. Too many spirits may make you see them.
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