When I was a young girl, my uncle and his family moved into a beautiful Victorian home in the historic district of our hometown. The home boasted bay windows, three floors, two staircases, formal living and dining rooms, original fireplaces, and a carriage house out back. When I would come over to visit my family, my sisters, cousins, and I would explore the nooks and crannies of the stately home and pretend we were living in a castle. My cousin Sofia’s bedroom was soft, white, and decorated with butterflies; this was where the princesses slept. Her brother Reuben’s bedroom, with darker woodwork and reptiles on display, was the dungeon for the dangerous.
My imagination meandered through time and space. For each instance that I drifted down the enormous wooden staircase, I wondered about the antiquity of it all. How many children had descended that flight to find a candle-lit fir covering neatly wrapped packages on Christmas morning? How many parents or nannies had crept up those stairs to check on sleeping babies? The wonderment of it all enthralled me.
As I grew, so did my love and interest in homes and people of the past. It must be the beautiful mystery of these old homes that beckons to me as I drive through my hometown’s historic neighborhoods. I’m bewitched as I wonder about the history of these homes: What type of music would waft from the windows on a cool summer evening? What would a New Years Eve celebration look like from outside a lead-glass window? And most enchanting of all is the question–What was the story of the people who lived here?
Perhaps we will never know…Though I could visit my local historical society to inquire about the history of buildings and homes in my town, the records available will most likely yield stodgy superficial facts and dates. So I prefer to let my imagination dress the ghosts of the past in topcoats and long white gloves. I choose to hear the scratchy sounds of a phonograph. And I elect to picture people laughing, clinking glasses, and embracing with joy as I behold these homes today.
So the next time you find yourself not in a rush, take a turn into an aging neighborhood. Let your car crawl down the cobblestone road as you allow your mind to visualize a bygone era. Notice the beauty in the architecture, picture the people who have come and gone, and consider the changes in the times.
~Think on These Things~
What buildings bring forth your imagination? Please share your stories with us in the comments section.