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.