Recently I had the pleasure of touring a vacant farmhouse which has remained in the same family since its construction in 1918. Although the house has had many of the updates one would expect over the course of a full century, it has had far fewer of them than most houses of similar age. One can readily perceive the slow march of time within its walls; decades of accumulated artifacts and modifications are retained in various stages of integrity. This time capsule-like quality of the house is quite palpable and greatly enhances its appeal.
One room, however, stood out amongst the others. Obviously intended as a bedroom (as demonstrated by the presence of a clothes closet), the room had clearly been used for storage since built. An additional (and much smaller) closet is found beyond a knee-wall in the room. Located on the second floor of the house, a late and nominal example of the Craftsman style, the room is noteworthy not only because of its resilience to the passage of time, but also because the room was never actually finished. Amazingly, its plaster walls have never been painted! Its woodwork has never been varnished!
Naturally one is inclined to ask, “Why?” One of many possible explanations is that the house was built from a plan book or mail-order house plans – quite common for the time period – and that the smallest bedroom was designated as storage before or during the construction process. What does such a room look like after one full century and multiple generations of use? Let’s take a look:
The stairwell leading to the second floor appears to have survived unpainted until the mid- to late 20th century. Apparently the painter did not have a ladder sufficient to reach the uppermost portion of the space: