My dream home, an unrequited love affair

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Once upon a time, 2010 to be exact, I went to Jerome, AZ for the historic building and home tour. While I was touring the Mills house, an old Victorian built in 1898 that had recently been renovated and restored to its original state, I commented on how beautiful it was and how much I would love to have a house just like it to one of the tour hosts. She told me about another Victoria home that was in need of renovation and was for sale. From the back porch I was able to see it through the trees. This is going to sound a little crazy (I am crazy so just follow along), but as I was staring at the house I felt like it was speaking to me.  So much so, that I walked up Magnolia Street to get a closer look. As I got closer I felt the connection to this home growing stronger.

Once I was standing in front it was obvious to any rational person that what was once a beautiful Victoria was now an abandoned home that was suffering from years and years of serious neglect. All of the windows were boarded up and the porch as drooping. There was a “Private Property”sign with a notice below it warning you to stay out since the home was structurally unsound, as well as the “For Sale” sign posted on the front of the home. I drove to the street above so I could get a closer look at the back of the house as well. I could see that parts of the roof were missing. I chose to look past all that. Afterall,  we all have flaws. That’s what makes us special and unique. Sure, it needed some attention, but that just made me want to nurture the home with love more. I would fix it up and make it my own, or so I thought.

    My dream home as seen in 2010

    My dream home up close

    The back of the house. Looking closely you can the missing part of the house near the pitched roof leaving the home open and exposed to the elements.

On the drive home I kept thinking “I really have to have that house”. By the next day, I was completely obsessed (or maybe possessed). I posting a picture of it on Facebook to get my friends and family’s thoughts. Some of the comments weren’t so positive or encouraging, “Looks like something out of a Horror movie”, “On that porch, you wont even need a rocking chair” and”It looks like a haunted Halloween attraction.” I simply skimmed over those and focused on the encouraging comments instead, “I’d love to come live in a motor home parked out back and restore it”, “Well, it would take a lot of work, but I love the style of old houses. Dreams are a good thing” and ”Go for it girl!!!! Resale may be great!”  With their reassurance and blessings I did what anyone would do, I looked the listing up on the internet then called the listing agent so I could ask a million questions.

After getting more information from the listing agent, researching the process to renovate a house that is designated historical, and obtaining a few estimates for the cost to make the house habitable again, it became quite obvious to me that my dream home would require WAY more work than I could ever imagine or afford to do. I was faced with accepting the reality that me and this house were just not meant to be.

I never was able to put it out of my head completely. I would look at the listing online from time to time “just to see if it sold yet”. It hadn’t. My dream, though out of my immediate reach, remained distant but still alive and well. Whenever I was in Jerome I would walk or drive by and visit “my home”. With each passing year I could see the condition was deteriorating. On one of my visits I found the roof was completely gone exposing the fact that there were trees, big ones, growing inside of the house. I was disappointed. The hopes of buying it, fixing it up, and living there “one day” were fading as the years past, but they were not completely gone. The love affair continued.

Saturday I went to Jerome for this year’s historic home tour. I arrived at Spook Hall, paid the tour admission fee, put on my wristband, grabbed the tour brochure, then headed for the door to start the tour on foot (this is *strongly* discouraged by the Jerome Chamber of Commerce).

I was able to find the first two homes without any problem. I had no idea where the next home was so I approached one of the tour shuttle drivers for directions. He was kind enough to give me walking directions so that I could continue to enjoy the day taking in the sights that I would not have had the opportunity to see if I was in the shuttle van.

I discovered this piece of art while walking the streets in Jerome

Maneuvering in and out of this garage would be a little tricky 

My new friend was out front of the 3rd home so he gave me instructions on how to get to the 4th home on the tour. He said rather than walking all the way to the other side of town and following the road up to the house, he recommended that I walk up the street that leads to the Jerome Hotel, turn right, head up the dirt road (I didn’t even know that road existed), and continue up the hill. The home would be on the left side of the street at the top of the hill.

Following his directions I arrived at the 4th home on tour. As I entered the house felt very familiar to me. I asked the owner/host if the home had been on a previous tour. He replied, “No, renovations were just completed.” He was eager to tell me all about the house. We began walking through the house together and talking along the way. He told me that he was a general contractor. He had purchased the house last June and that with the help of 2 other contractor friends they spent 8 months renovating and restoring the home. He said it was much more work and expense then he initially presumed it to would be. I could see the care and attention to detail that he put into it. I asked if he was living there now that the renovations were complete. He said he was not living there. The home was being used as a vacation rental now. He offered to show me pictures of the work during various phases of the project. I began to tell him all about my dream home in Jerome and the state of disrepair it had fallen into since the first time I had seen it and fallen in love with it 4 years ago. As he began to show me pictures of the interior demo, I took out my phone so I could show him pictures of “my home” that was in similar condition as well. He took a quick look then exclaimed “Those are pictures of this house!!”

I was in complete shock. Rather than remaining quiet or congratulating him on the truly magnificent job he had done renovating the house I began to babble. With each word my enthusiasm and excitement continued to grow as I told him all about the plans I had to buy and renovate this house, now his house, myself. He began to back away, said I was welcome to stay there as a guest anytime for $200/night, then politely excused himself to go back into the front room to greet the new visitors that were arriving to tour the home. In hindsight, I am sure he was relieved and welcomed the break to escape the delusional, raging lunatic who was talking about his home as if it were her own.

I continued walking through the house without him. When I entered the kitchen I found another tour host as well as before and after pictures of the house hanging on the kitchen wall. The first before photo was identical to the one I had taken 4 years ago. I once again felt compelled to share the pictures on my phone and tell the tale of my long love affair with this house to this host as well. He was more receptive to listening to my mindless dribble. He told me that several years ago the previous owner’s daughter had seen a picture on Facebook similar to the one on the wall. He said she told her dad about what had happened to his former home then included the picture from Facebook it in a scrap book she presented to him for his 85th birthday. I can’t say for sure whether the picture she saw was mine or not, but I can’t imagine it was anyone else’s. I walked through the remaining rooms in the house, toured the gardens then left to see the next house on tour.

Bird house replica hanging in the garden of my dream house

After the tour was over I realized that in all my excitement I had not taken any pictures of the actual house while I was there. The tour had ended at 5pm, but I really wanted a few after pictures of what it looks like now. I took the long walk up to the house again to snap a few pictures of the dream home that just wasn’t meant to be. I just hope the owner didn’t see me and think I was stalking him and his house!!

My dream home fully restored

Close up of my dream home fully restored

This entry is cross posted on Phoenix NE Valley: Real Estate, Lifestyle & Living

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About the Author
Michele Guss

Michele Guss is a REALTOR with Realty ONE Group, serving the Phoenix East Valley. Originally from Washington, D.C. (and still loves her Redskins!), now an AZ girl and an avid hiker. When she is not providing world-class service to her real estate clients she can often be found hiking, climbing and crawling over, on and through trails in Arizona's mountains and deserts.

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