Our realtor called again. “Let’s brainstorm for a way to set your house apart from the others that are for sale. Can you think of anything?”
“Well,” I hesitated, wondering if what I was going to say was positive or negative, “it’s almost 100 years old.”
“Ok then,” she said. “I know a man at the newspaper who might publish a story about that. It’ll be free publicity. Could you write it?”
Many years previously, an elderly gentleman, hunched over with osteoporosis, rang our doorbell and introduced himself as “the little boy who helped build this house.” (He was in his 90s at the time.) I welcomed him inside, and as he paced through the rooms, he dictated the history of our (his) home. I knew I could write a good story for the paper. A shortened version appears below.
In the year 2009, this house will celebrate its 100th birthday. Built in 1909 by a local farmer, 103 Creek Court had a rural address and fronted on a narrow dirt road that eventually became today’s eight-lane Palatine Road. The farmer owned one square mile of land and operated a dairy farm, milking 100 cows by hand twice a day.
The original farmhouse had a living room, kitchen and bedroom on the main floor with three bedrooms upstairs. These were closed off by a door and left unheated during the winter. With several additions, the house grew to six bedrooms, three baths and five other rooms.
Back in the early 1900’s, the kitchen had a dry sink without even a hand pump for water. Before the first well was dug, the family got its water from the nearby creek, for which today’s Creek Court is named. Food was cooked on a swing-hook in the fireplace.
The main dairy barn sat just across the current driveway. During the 1930’s, economic tragedy struck this farm when the herd shared grass under a fence with a neighbor’s cows, who had hoof and mouth disease.
All of the cows became infected, making their milk unusable, which sealed their fate and that of the farm. The farmer dug a massive hole next to the milking barn, herded them into it and shot them all. Interestingly, when builders began digging for the foundation of our next door neighbor’s house in 1979, they ran into this grave of cow bones and halted excavation until the mystery was solved.
Recent gardeners at 103 Creek Court have dug up square-head nails, iron wagon wheels and the remains of old farming equipment buried in the concrete of the front steps. An antique hay rake, once pulled by a team of horses, was also on the property.
Used as an office by the developer of the current neighborhood, the old farm house was slated for demolition in 1980. However, once the other half-acre lots were sold and built, the developer decided to renovate 103 Creek Court and let it be the house on the rise that had been standing longer than all the others… nearly 100 years.
The realtor and I hoped to find a buyer interested in history, but only time would tell.