57 Comments

  1. curt
    July 25, 2012 @ 9:28 am

    Hey Victoria! Dang – isn’t that stone so tempting? Wow – and you and I are calculating how much money and how much time this would take to bring back to life. Unfortunately at my age I’d never see it completed. But you’re young and what a spectacular home this would be with your touch of style.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      July 25, 2012 @ 11:40 am

      Perhaps we will end up in the asylum… But YOU understand how it would be totally worth it!! The green stone turns out to be very soft. And flaky. As in, it is literally eroding off the house… to an extent that is problematic. I’ve been contacting some people who theoretically could tell me how you resolve this… but as of yet, they just say soft, flaky stone is an unusual choice for a building material.

      There are corners of the building where the stone has worn away so much that you can fit your hand into the curve of the edge and not fill in the gap. You probably understand how we can look at that and think—SMALL problem. We can FIX that. (How? Who knows!!) Besides, it’s taken 130 years to deteriorate THIS much, it will last at least the rest of our lifetime!

      Reply

      • curt
        July 25, 2012 @ 11:58 am

        Looks like it’s sandstone. But man, I feel that attraction. Anything is fixable. I love the stone so much – it would probably be easier to strip the stone off some sections and put up new than trying to repair the bad areas. But think of the muscles you’ll have after that little exercise. Go…go…go… I’ll be adding Indiana limestone to my project coming up, so you know I love them boulders

        Reply

        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
          July 25, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

          It’s green serpentine stone. From a Pennsylvania quarry.

          This was told to us in a manner that conveyed importance and prestige… rather than in a manner reflective of how it’s falling apart! Got to love a sales pitch!

          Reply

  2. Karen B.
    July 25, 2012 @ 11:08 am

    Victoria,
    Okay, I’m an optimist, I ‘get’ loving the view, I understand Paul is amazingly talented…but really? It almost looks scary inside. That said, I don’t believe in raining on anyone’s parade so I say, hooray, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the bank says, we’ve got a live one! These folks want to buy this place…let’s let them do it. 🙂
    Will you live in your lovely home until this one is no longer condemned? It reminds me of what the former, historic Spanish embassy of Los Angeles, later the Phi Delt house of USC, looked like after a semester of wild and crazy college guys lived in it…good bones stood up to the ketchup on the walls and beach sand on the hardware floors for a luau.
    Keep us posted.
    Karen

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      July 25, 2012 @ 11:46 am

      Karen,
      Thanks for the attempt at a reality check…My parents looked kind of ill when we showed them the pictures.

      It seems both obvious that we SHOULD do it. And obvious that we SHOULDN’T!
      I don’t know if I hope the bank says yes or no. Depends on the hour you ask me. Three A.M. says NO. But by 5:30…I’m usually back around to thinking, why not?

      Eventually, yes we would live there. It would solve a lot of problems, if we could live there NOW. But this house is not done… and the steps of finishing it and selling it are at only a few of some pretty extreme hurdles…

      Reply

  3. Stacey
    July 25, 2012 @ 11:50 am

    Piece of cake!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      July 25, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

      Stacey—I literally hooted out loud.
      Indeed. Piece of cake.

      Reply

      • Stacey
        July 25, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

        Okay, I admit it had to be my shortest comment in comment history but it’s all I had left in me after looking at those pictures…. I was speechless! But you know what, Victoria…. if anyone could pull it off, you and Paul could! I envisioned it completely restored and it’s absolutely the most beautiful thing ever.
        The big question I had… but was too exhausted and speechless to ask…. are you really six feet tall? HA HA HA!

        Reply

        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
          July 25, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

          I am. Whenever people tell me, wow! You’re tall! I’m always surprised… like I forgot. I have two brothers both over 6’4… so in my family I’m below average height.

          I know you’ve mentioned you’re tall too… Remember the dark old days before the Internet? Before every online store carried tall sizes? Scary…

          Reply

          • Stacey
            July 25, 2012 @ 6:28 pm

            If I get asked one more time “do you play basketball” I think I’ll do a slam dunk on someone! Yes, thank goodness for the internet… floods just weren’t happening often enough to legitimately explain the short pants. I became a skirt girl out of necessity! Love that you’re tall and gorgeous. It will come in handy when you’re modeling for magazines when this “new” house is finished! 🙂

            Reply

            • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
              July 26, 2012 @ 8:10 am

              Seriously with the pants. The horror of having to wear boy’s jeans scarred me for life.

    • Karen B.
      July 25, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

      I know, based on what I’ve seen of your collective talents that you will make it amazing and the location is beyond perfection. If I were youthful I’d go for it…you and Paul are youthful. Keep us posted.
      Karen

      Reply

      • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
        July 26, 2012 @ 8:11 am

        Thanks, Karen… Hopefully my youthfulness survives! Paul will probably be fine, but I may be old and decrepit by the time we’re finished.

        Reply

  4. Holly @ Adventures in Renovating
    July 25, 2012 @ 11:55 am

    I’m a total sucker for ridiculously derelict but beautiful houses so I’m keeping fingers crossed for you that the bank gives you a resounding ‘Yes’!

    I grew up with parents who renovated about 15 period properties whilst we lived in them, and have started to realize that I’m inevitably turning out just the same as them! My husband and I just spent a weekend trip to Margate (beautiful British seaside town) looking at crumbling Georgian town houses that were really ‘cheap’, usually due to lack of roof/heating etc and came back working out increasingly ridiculous plans to rescue them!

    Looking forward to hearing what happens next…..

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      July 25, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

      “Cheap” is how they get you. Right? Who needs a roof? Or heat—Especially since the British seaside is so delightfully warm!! Tropical, almost.

      There is something in my brain that makes me susceptible to the “potential” rather than the reality… To some extent our current house has cured me. Or at least worn me down with the reality of the amount of work involved with “cheap.”

      15 is a LOT of homes. Your parents were either super talented (and fast) or were able to hire people (an allowance I can only imagine.) Either way, it must have given you an enviable base for understanding everything involved.

      Reply

  5. twopurplecouches
    July 25, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

    Ooooooh wow!! What an incredible house, with an incredible view!! Can you imagine how grand it must have once been??
    I love decrepit old homes. They make me giddy. They make me dream of priceless woodwork and gilded ceilings. ::sigh:: totally crossing my fingers for you!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      July 25, 2012 @ 5:28 pm

      I know… Sigh… The previous grandeur is totally what’s sucking me in. Even though it’s wildly diminished, the ghost is still there. Although? When I think about having to live with the existing kitchen and bath for an undetermined time… my enthusiasm runs into the corner to hide.

      The previous owner did some actively bad things… He stripped out multiple marble fireplace mantles, the double interior entrance doors, furnaces… along with just generally neglecting any kind of vital maintenance. People are just terrible to old homes!!

      Thanks for the encouragement. The war of indecision inside of me needs all the support it can get!

      Reply

      • twopurplecouches
        July 27, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

        Oh, it breaks my heart what people do to old homes! They rip out the craftsmanship without even thinking about it! I would be drawn in by the same “ghosts” — what a perfect way to describe it!
        I will be cheering you on if you decide to go for it!

        Reply

        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
          July 28, 2012 @ 9:25 am

          I think this guy was looking to make some cash… you know those marble mantels are valuable. He was losing it to the bank anyway, so I guess no motivation for preservation. And anyone who allowed it to become so rundown in the first place just didn’t care about the house’s integrity.

          Reply

  6. the home tome
    July 25, 2012 @ 6:37 pm

    From where I sit, you are BRAVE souls to even consider this project! My hat is off to you! 🙂

    Reply

  7. our heritage home
    July 25, 2012 @ 11:37 pm

    What a grand house and a fantastic view. I can hear the wheels turning in your head! I gotta say this is a whole different kind of crazy!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      July 26, 2012 @ 7:48 am

      Yes… the view!! It makes me think we could get a small boat, and take sunset sails… as though we would have time for anything other than construction!

      Reply

  8. Linn @ The Home Project
    July 27, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

    Yes, I think you guys are a little bit insane. But it’s fantastic! Absolutely wonderful looking – from the outside… What a job to take on, I’m sure it would be super fun / nervracking / difficult / wonderful all at the same time if you actually get do it! I cross my fingers too, what an awesome project this would be! 🙂

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      July 28, 2012 @ 12:21 pm

      On one hand, I am incredibly excited at the possibility… and on the other, think it’s an insanely risky thing to do! I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what our options are…

      Reply

  9. A city girl
    July 28, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

    I love that house! It is beautiful. If you could fix up the top floor first then work your way down getting renters along the way… you might be able to pull it off sooner than you think

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      July 29, 2012 @ 8:36 am

      In our wildest fantasies, that is what happens!! In reality, we are concerned that the sheer amount of repair the house needs will drown us in bills sooner than we can generate any kind of meaningful rental income!

      Reply

      • A city girl
        July 30, 2012 @ 7:05 am

        did you have an inspection done on it?

        Reply

        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
          July 30, 2012 @ 8:50 am

          Ah hahahahahahah. No.
          If we get financing, we will go back with a huge piece of time carved out… (and hazmat suits and respirators!!) But until we can prove we can buy it, they’re not interested in us. It’s an as-is sale, (obviously,) so whatever we discover will just be icing on the cake. Right now we are assuming that the things that are horrifyingly obvious are outmatched only by those that are not…

          Reply

          • A city girl
            July 31, 2012 @ 7:45 pm

            If you don’t get an inspection with that size of a house you are taking a real gamble because you need to know if there is any substantial structural damage but I bet an inspection on that baby would cost a fortune! If you decide to do it on your own please make sure you get the lights cut on and bring your own lights like those mechanic lights and an extension cord…a long one. Also get one of those electrical testers (the cheap pen type) and check to see if all your outlets are getting juice, if there is an ac unit turn it on and if you have a thermometer check the air temp coming out. Bring a note book and make a checklist and make notes room by room. check windows to see how many broken inoperable ones you have, check the floors, walls and ceiling/wall unions for any cracks, look closely at the ceiling for water marks or primer. I did not see the water marks on my ceiling cause the previous owner was nice enough to prime the ceiling stains before I got there and I found out later about the multiple leaks. Bring an ice pick and prick wood trim here and there checking for softness…aka termite damage. I can’t think of anything else…. except of course pull up rugs if there are any. I went in a house with a large carpet on it and when it was lifted there was a sheet of plywood hiding a HUGE hole.though the floor.
            I pray that if this is going to be a good thing for you then it comes through

            Reply

            • A city girl
              July 31, 2012 @ 7:49 pm

              oh and bring the cat…in case there are an mice LOL

            • A city girl
              August 3, 2012 @ 10:04 pm

              I said about the electrical because in old house the wiring is copper, subject to be stolen.
              Thats crazy about them taking out the pipes. were they copper? I have seen that also and in that case it wasn’t PO’s it was thieves. They even steal the AC units for the copper.
              To tell you the truth it was pouring rain two days before I purchased and I came here both times to check things out and no evidence of leaks but ohhhh when I moved in and we had the first heavy rain the ceiling was soaked and water was coming through the light fixture and the basement flooded. How she covered that up I have no idea because it was never dry when it rained. A leak is the most stressful thing I have every been thorough in here. They can’t work on it when its wet so they work when its dry then you wait for the rain to see if it worked. I finally had to get a new roof. THAT REALLY DROVE ME CRAZY

            • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
              August 1, 2012 @ 9:04 am

              Thanks for the advice… yes, if we get to the point being prepared to make a concrete offer, there will be some SERIOUS inspecting going on. Paul will essentially tear it apart. As much as you can… I do have an inspector’s check sheet from when we did the house we live in now… but this house will kind of defy the conventional things like testing the electrical outlets. I imagine that is the least of our issues.

              I think what I’ve learned MOST from this house—is that you cannot know the extent of a house’s issues until you have ALREADY bought it. And in this case, it will be more extreme than we can even imagine. The previous owner began renovations in some of the apartments… and there are places he hacked into walls and just CUT OUT pipes. And when you are three stories up from the basement, in a house that size, it is not going to be easy for Paul to figure out WHAT that pipe went to!!!

              Your PO sounds like a NICE guy! That was so NICE of him to cover evidence of leaks!! We were lucky, on the day we did our final walkthrough here, it was raining, and an area where the front porch meets the siding, was just POURING rain down the siding. We were like, ummmmm—so, the part where you said NO leaks? Did you think this didn’t count??

  10. Jill
    July 30, 2012 @ 7:52 am

    I just stumbled upon your blog…as a veteran of a few old house restorations we currently finishing up our last one.

    I recently read a book by David Giffels that pretty much could have been written about the house you and your husband just looked at…I recommend it highly and do not think you are the least bit crazy to consider that fabulous old place! It is charming and only those crazy few in the world who love and live to restore historic buildings really ‘get it’. The rest of the world thinks we are insane…
    Good luck and good wishes, Jill

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      July 30, 2012 @ 8:53 am

      JILL!!!
      I LOVE that book! I picked it off the library “new release” shelf when it came out years ago… I loved it so much I went out and bought my own copy immediately.

      He is such a wonderful writer. I love the raccoon and the drywall crew and when they get the heating bill… My husband and I adopted his phrase “one bag of mortar is a fool’s errand,” and apply it to everything that we were silly enough to think would be brief and painless.

      I’ve recommended it to people over the years, but I’ve never been able to have a conversation with anyone who’d actually read it!! I’m so glad to hear from someone who loved it!!

      My most recent house-related read was “The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home.” (I wrote a review of it here.) It’s not funny like Giffels, but it’s a great story.

      Thanks so much for the comment… Made my day!
      Victoria

      Reply

  11. Alex @ northofseven
    August 1, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

    I saw the first photo and went “I’ll take it!” What a goldmine of potential. Mind you I suck at renovations even though I have lived through them thanks to my Dad since I was a kid. Just the outside. Wow!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      August 1, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

      Sigh… I KNOW. A goldmine. A dilapidated one, but still… It’s hard not to throw caution to the wind. Or, rather it would be hard, if I didn’t have going on three-years hardcore renovation experience reminding me just how much work it will be!

      Reply

  12. daalny
    August 10, 2012 @ 10:28 am

    Ah the joys of Home Ownership! Good luck, with the renovation. I’m a bit sleep deprived as I started reading your post I saw the second picture and for a split second I thought it the long cinematic shot of the Bates Motel. I sympathize with the short bathroom. My husband is tall and at our last house he didn’t fit in the showe.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      August 10, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

      I can see the confusion. Bates motel, The Shining… some of the parts absolutely look like a horror movie.

      Sadly, the house went under contract to some other, faster, richer buyer before we even had our mortgage together… so it’s not actually our house. We ARE renovating an old house, but it’s nowhere on that scale.

      Reply

  13. Victoria
    August 27, 2012 @ 6:11 pm

    What a beautiful home, location….and dream! Wishing you all that you dream of with this incredible under-taking!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      August 27, 2012 @ 9:27 pm

      Ah… yes. Sadly, it has turned out to be just that—a dream. Before we could even get our financing in order, someone else had made a cash offer for full price.

      We’re pretty heartsick about it. Even though we’d had our doubts/anxieties, and hadn’t fully made up our minds… it’s always sad when someone else snatches your treasure out from under your nose!!
      p.s.- beautiful name you have there…

      Reply

  14. Victoria
    August 27, 2012 @ 10:03 pm

    Doggone it! So sorry to hear that you weren’t able to work out your dream this time around! I hope you find another gem like this. All things come to those who wait? Keep the faith! 🙂

    Reply

  15. Andy
    June 27, 2013 @ 8:02 am

    That is an amazing house!

    Reply

  16. Amy Herrmann
    June 28, 2013 @ 9:58 pm

    That is my dream house. I swear. My husband is so lucky that we live in St. Louis where such gems are few and far between. Our first house was a two family flat built in 1904 in pretty good condition. I loved that house. Unfortunately we moved to suburbia when our son was about to start school. Now I’m preparing him to move back to the east coast after that same son finishes college. Admittedly, he starts high school in the fall, but these things must be handled delicately. I love, love, love your blog!

    Reply

  17. Lisa M
    July 10, 2013 @ 6:13 am

    Oh my, that house. I would LOVE to have it. I’m a huge sucker for adorable/beautiful old victorian houses and mansions. My husband and I looked at one in our area about a month ago but unfortunately it has so much dry rot and the current owner did all the recent work without a permit and VERY poorly. It makes me cry inside. I would send you a link of the listing but it looks like some fool actually bought the place.

    I also want a ballroom and a giant frickin covered porch.

    Reply

  18. Elizabeth
    July 12, 2013 @ 5:44 pm

    OMG, I live a few blocks away from that house, and I freaked when I recognized it in your picture. My husband and I have fantasized about buying it a million times! Even though I know the practical thing to do would be to rent it as apartment units like the houses next to it, I secretly just wanted to convert it back into my private mansion and get servants. Anyway, whoever bought it has fixed the porch, and I’m dying to know what they’ll do with it next. I think they should have to have a blog so we could follow their progress.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      July 14, 2013 @ 10:59 am

      Small world, eh?
      Paul has driven by, and reported the porch looks fantastic… I haven’t been in the area to see for myself.

      Reply

  19. Linda Montgomery
    September 10, 2013 @ 10:47 am

    I’ve loved reading this thread and was sad that you did not get the house. BUT I am reminded of a lovely saying that is appropriate here “That which is meant for me will never pass me by”.

    You saved your marriage, sanity and a few grey hairs but what is all of that worth next to a house that fabulous?

    Nothing I tell you, NOTHING!!

    Another one will catch your eye and be even more fabulous.

    My dream is that it will coincide with your new HGTV show that is offered to you and Paul which will actually pay for most or part of the new, amazing, dilapidated, historical nightmare/dream house!

    Have I mentioned that you’re my hero?

    We have a new joke in our house. It goes like this…

    “Dear Horder Victoria,

    I love you, now get your shit out of my garage!”

    We laugh everytime we say it and it takes the sting out of me needing to shift things to another area AGAIN!!

    Best,

    Linda

    Reply

  20. Chad
    February 26, 2014 @ 1:25 pm

    Well my heart went out to this house as well but good news! It’s being fully restored! Well, kept as an apartment building but that’s well enough. I’ll be glad someone is doing right by it since my teeny South Philly house is getting all the rest of my money this spring.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      February 27, 2014 @ 7:35 am

      Paul has been by, and says that it is clear they are THROWING money at it. Rebuilding the front porch alone must have been a small fortune.

      Reply

      • Chad
        February 27, 2014 @ 7:39 am

        Appropriate windows even?? When people do things like this it makes me want to bake them things.

        Reply

  21. Irene
    February 11, 2015 @ 10:55 am

    I just found your blog, and I started at the beginning–
    I stopped short when I got to this entry though, because I think my hubby and I used to live here! I can’t quite remember the number (maybe 105 Bank Ave? I can see the address sticker on my Victoria Magazine in my mind’s eye 🙂 ha ha)(Is that mag even still in print??) but there were several mansions-carved-into-apartments along there. We were on the ground floor, in back, in a two-bedroom, with amazing high ceilings and ivy-wallpaper in the kitchen. This was 1990.
    Anyway, we were preggers so we bought a home in Cherry Hill and the rest is history.
    Dying of curiosity now– is there an update? This place really needs to be a B&B!

    Reply

  22. Michelle Haye
    August 13, 2016 @ 10:29 am

    Oh. my. I think I just fell in love with this falling down mansion. I came across your site on Pinterest and have been reading this morning to this point. Holy cow this is exactly the same kind of reaction that I would have had, and my husband would have looked at me like I am crazy, and I would have persuaded him that this would be PERFECT for our first house. Totally sane, right??
    Ah this is gorgeous!

    Reply

  23. story castings
    August 25, 2016 @ 5:36 pm

    It had me at the reflection of the sunset on the water in the window.
    Found you on I don’t even no where at this point but it had to do with the ginormous kingdom mirror that you bought off of CraigsList. I have since been reading from the beginning bit by bit. You are hilarious and I covet your current house.

    Reply

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