Sunday, May 27, 2012

For the record

I've recently realized that there are a couple of facts in the MLS listing for 920 Cedar Brook that need a bit of clarification. I'd just like to be sure anyone who's reading this blog has the right information, and isn't confused by details in the MLS that don't match what I've described here.

First - let's start with the MLS number. It's 2794663.

House number at the end of the driveway
Now...if you were to search for the number, you will find the house  listed as 914 Cedar Brook, not 920.  I am a bit confused by this myself, and don't know where that number comes from. All I can think is that it's based on some old property records somewhere that maybe had a range of numbers for that parcel of land. I'm just not sure. What I do I know is that the address on the front door is 920. It's been that way as far back as I can find records.

Another point of clarification: The house was not built in 1905. It was built in 1914. This is the date on the original blueprints on file in the  Detwiller collection at the Plainfield Public Library (viewable at Enter "Huntsman" for owner's name and "1914" for year.)

The MLS listing also doesn't clearly explain what bedrooms are where. It states that there are 3 bedrooms on the second floor, and 4 or more on the third. I don't want anyone to be confused about this, so here is how the bedrooms are arranged.

Second floor view to master bedroom
The house has 8 bedrooms. There are 5 bedrooms on the second floor. There are 3 bedrooms on the third floor.

Starting on the second floor: The master bedroom is on the left side of the house as you look at it from the street (the same side as the piazza). Opening off the master bedroom, there is a large, lovely bedroom or sitting room that is directly above the foyer. This room could easily serve other purposes...we used it as a playroom, a music room, and an office at different times. This room opens directly to the main hallway as well as to the master bedroom. 

The next bedroom is at the back and shares the master bath. It's a bit smaller but it's still a very nice room and overlooks the back yard. It opens to the main hallway (see the picture above - the light coming in from the right side is from this bedroom). This would be a nice baby's room. Or a study. Or, you could use this group of rooms for several children's rooms with a shared bath, as we did.

Doorways to 4th bedroom and sitting room (seen from stairs to third floor)
The 4th bedroom is at the opposite end of the house (see the doorway to the left in the adjacent image). It is similar in size to the master and is another large, lovely and bright room, with 2 windows over the driveway and 2 facing the front yard. It has its own private bathroom. (By the way, both bathrooms have large closets.)

Finally, there is the 5th bedroom on the second floor - the airy room at the end of the back wing. We used this as a guestroom and it's one of my favorite rooms in the house.

Second floor with view to back hall at right
I need to mention that there's one more room in the back hall. It's not counted as a bedroom, although it's certainly large enough. (I believe its original purpose back in 1914 was a sewing room.) It has a huge closet that runs almost the full length of the back wall. Because my grandparents usually stayed in the back guestroom when they visited from Chicago, my mother had a half bath installed in this room. I don't know if the plumbing for that is still there, but the room is certainly large enough for a combination bath/sitting room. Or any other purpose. I think, for example, it would make a great office or workshop. It's roomy, it's cheerful, and it's right off the back stairs to the kitchen, so it would be pretty convenient for grabbing coffee or lunch while you were working. 

(By the way...the windows in all the upstairs rooms are well placed in terms of light and cross ventilation. In fact, most of the bedrooms have windows on at least 2 walls. The exceptions are  the second floor sitting room/bedroom and the middle bedroom on the third floor.)

Middle bedroom alcove, third floor
Moving up to the third floor: There are two smaller bedrooms at the top of the back stairs (the original servants' rooms) that share a cozy bath with a clawfoot tub. At the opposite end of the house, above the master bedroom, is a delightful guestroom that has windows on 3 sides - overlooking the front, side, and back yards. This room is very private and peaceful and has its own bath just down the hall, also with a big clawfoot tub. It may also be the largest bedroom in the house - though unfortunately I don't have the exact dimensions of any of the rooms. But I'm trying to see if I can find them. I'm also hoping to get more pictures soon, especially of the kitchen and breakfast room, as well as some of the other rooms I didn't have a chance to photograph last November. (The rest of those images are in the "Details, details, details" post from 2011, if you haven't seen them.)

One last note: the price has recently dropped to $259,900. To the best of my knowledge, the house is still a short sale, and I suspect the bank is trying to move things along. But as I've explained before, I'm not legally involved in the property or the real estate details.

View down front stairs from the second floor landing
I simply love this house because I grew up in it. It's beautiful, spacious, solid, and comfortable. There are wonderful details around every corner. And while it's a big house, it's also warm and welcoming and a pleasure to live in.

Wouldn't it be nice to come down the front stairs every morning with this lovely view at your feet? With the shades up in the dining room (doorway at left), the intricate parquet floor would be even more beautiful. 

But seeing 920 Cedar Brook in person would give you a much clearer sense of its character than I can ever convey here. So I highly recommend a visit! And if you need the name of a realtor to call in the area or any other information about the house, just send me an email. I'll be happy to help.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

It's back

Update: 920 Cedar Brook is officially back on the market. For the past few weeks, it was listed as under attorney review. But that offer apparently did not progress any further, and the house is available. It's still waiting for the right owner.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Now and then

NOW: A few daffodils in the old rock garden.
Standing in the back yard at 920 Cedar Brook two weeks ago, it was nearly impossible to remember where all the trees and shrubs and flowers used to be. The only thing I could recall clearly was the magnificent old magnolia that used to carpet the yard with thick, pink waxy petals every spring. We lost that tree about fifteen years ago, and my memories of everything else seem to have faded along with it.  

Fortunately, some of the old photos my sister and I just found have brought the yard back to life. The terraced flower beds my mother designed...the lovely, shady rear corner of the yard...the thick shrub border that used to screen the pool from the driveway. There's even a picture of the ancient flowering crab apple in the front yard - which is still alive, though under serious threat from heavy overgrowth of ivy around its trunk.

It was a wonderful surprise to find these pictures, not just because they fill in the missing colors and textures in my memory, but because seeing how pretty the yard used to be softens the harshness of the current landscape. There's a gorgeous acre+ of gently rolling property surrounding the house. Just imagine what a lovely space this can be again.

NOW: Back view across the empty yard. The grass has mostly overrun the railroad ties that framed the flower beds and the steps leading down into the lawn. This would all look lovely rebuilt with some nice blue stone or brick. 
THEN: Back view with the old magnolia in full bloom, a newly built flower terrace, and early tulips in the background. This image dates to the late 1980s or early 1990s.
NOW: The pool, looking towards the driveway. Imagine a line of lush shrub roses interspersed with some stately columnar evergreens in place of this forlorn, falling-down fence...
THEN: The pool (and some visitors), sometime in the early 1990s. This is also looking towards the driveway. There were lots of mature shrubs as well as some flower beds along the edge.

NOW: The back corner of the yard, which slopes down from the pool. The garage, to the right, has seen better days and needs to be replaced. The white building on the left is the neighbor's garage.  

THEN: The same corner, the first spring after some new flower beds and a flagstone path were installed. Eventually there was more soil and mulch added and it was all so pretty and shady. That's the same neighbor's garage in the background.

NOW: With so little else to brighten the landscape the day I was there, it was wonderful to find a handful of my mother's tulips still bravely blooming, tucked into a sheltered spot near the basement steps.
THEN: The front of the house as it looked in the early 1990s, the original black-and-white scheme newly upgraded with a fresh coat of white paint, new red-brown roof and matching shutters. It really set off the brick steps and walk. And of course, the old crab apple was as pretty as ever.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

From the beginning...

The back yard as it looked in the late 60s. The attic fan is still there. 
A quick update on the status of 920 Cedar Brook: according to a realtor friend who was kind enough to look in the MLS for us last weekend, the house is "in attorney review." Given that the house is also a short sale and bank owned, I don't know how complex this process might be--or what the odds are the sale will move forward.

We all have our fingers crossed.

In the meantime, on my last visit to Plainfield, my sister and I dug through a large pile of old boxes and discovered a treasure trove of photos...some of which I didn't even know existed. And as luck would have it, a friend of mine at work has recently started a neat little photo scanning business. She just finished digitizing about 30 images for me. So here's a quick look at the house in our first years there. I will do another post shortly with more recent pictures of the front and back yards. 

Summer 1968 - the year we moved in. 

My mother's first big project: The pool!
We lived in that pool all summer, every summer...and so did our friends.. This image is from about 1970. Eventually all our own children enjoyed it as much as we did. I wish I had a picture of my mother floating on a raft, coated with Bain du Soleil...iced tea glass in hand... She loved her house, but the pool was her favorite room.

Inside, right after we moved in. This is one of the large front bedrooms. Love that  40s wallpaper! (My mother was not a fan; it was quickly replaced.)

The dining room with 1940s/50s  formal style.

The dining room after re-wallpapering and painting. It was a great place for a birthday party.

The foyer as it was in 1968, before the floors were stripped and refinished.

My mother and grandmother in the foyer on Christmas morning, a year or so later.