The House That Grew
When a real estate listing tells what year a house was built, that can be a little misleading. My house was built in 1906. That's what the title says, and there's a newspaper article about it (it's a very small town). But I know that only four rooms were built then, and a huge chimney with four fireplaces to warm them. There was neither electricity nor plumbing available at the time. When that arrived, a kitchen and a bathroom were added. Another bathroom was added much later. A back porch was added, then converted to another room. I personally added four rooms in what was once the attic, plus a stairwell, in 2009. In addition, I know the original four rooms were extensively repaired and remodeled after a flood in 1957. You can tell almost the same story with my previous house, originally built in the 1930s. Sometimes the result of all this expansion is quite nice. Sometimes it's a sign of mental illness, as in the case of the Winchester Mystery House, which Sarah Winchester obsessively expanded until her death. She had plenty of money to hire professional builders using the finest materials. On the other end of the spectrum is the house that grows on a budget, using cheap or often free surplus building materials. An extreme example of this type of house is for sale in Wallkill, New York.
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