Category Archives: Historic Properties

What is Your Favorite Architectural Style?

Like the main character in my last two novels, Madeline Abbott, I am an old house fanatic. I’ve loved old houses all my life. I am saddened to see so much of our architectural history being destroyed, either by being demolished or razed, or by being gutted in a misguided attempt by home buyers to have (what looks like) an old house, yet inside there is not one scrap of history left to admire. Why do they do it? This is a question that plagues all of us old house lovers. It literally makes no sense.

Potential home buyers say they want ‘the charm of a vintage home’ yet in the next breath they insist everything looks ‘dated’ and must be changed or ‘updated’, to the latest and greatest. Continue reading What is Your Favorite Architectural Style?

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How I Choose My Subject Matter

I subscribe to a great blog called ‘OldHouseDreams’. I would say for obvious reasons! This great blog is administered by ‘Kelly’ who has an eye and a heart for old houses. She scours real estate listings across America (and other countries) for old houses that are on the market. She doesn’t select according to her own personal style preferences. I respect that. Every style, every condition, every situation are represented. Very grand to very humble. The main criteria:  that the house have redeeming architectural significance and not too much ‘remuddling’ or modernizing.

This is a blog after my own heart. I rarely (read: never) see the offerings without finding at least one old house that has captured my imagination. The interesting thing about the site is the fact that she has an enormous number of followers. What does that mean? It means that there are many, many people out there like my husband and me. Lovers of old homes–their beauty, artistry, their craftsmanship and historic significance.

Today, when I read the offerings, I was struck dumb by the cottage in England, Suffolk to be precise, that is listed for sale. Continue reading How I Choose My Subject Matter

Remodel or Restore

My husband and I have been watching a television program called “Property Brothers”. This program was originally produced for HGTV. That may tell you something right there. While we have found it interesting, even funny at times, I’ve also found it quite irritating and it can very quickly make my blood boil.

The premise of the show for those not familiar with it is this: A pair of twin brothers, one a realtor, one a construction guy, pick a couple that are looking for their ‘dream home’. They ask the couple what are their ‘must haves’, and the (realtor) twin proceeds to show them a home for sale that has every single thing on their list. Everything. You guessed it. The price tag is too high, usually by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Next scene you have the couple looking hang-dog and unhappy while the twin brothers convince them that all they need is to broaden their search into the realm of the ‘fixer-upper’. Continue reading Remodel or Restore

My WIP (Work In Progress), Working Title: Black Oaks, Gate 6

My current WIP features many of the same characters you met in Unkindness Of Ravens. We will be watching as Madeline Abbott enters into more danger and intrigue with the northern California coast mansion she inherits from her parents. What she doesn’t know is there is a great deal of outside interest in this property. There are tales told of hidden gold, a missing old and valuable document and possibly…pirate booty?

When she gets into a jam, and she surely will, will she call on her friend (possibly more than a friend ) Detective Scott Cooper?  How will Madeline get out of the fix she finds herself in: suspected of murder… Continue reading My WIP (Work In Progress), Working Title: Black Oaks, Gate 6

Recreating An Historic Home

In my book ‘Unkindness of Ravens’, my character Madeline (Dean) Abbott inherited an historic property on the northern California coast called Black Oaks. Her parents bought the property years before, with plans to restore it just as they did their family home, Raven’s Nest.

In my current work in progress (WIP) the characters’ stories have moved forward and Madeline now faces restoring Black Oaks alone. She also faces challenges to her very right to the property itself, murder and mayhem!

In the WIP, we learn the historic mansion Black Oaks was built by Orrick Fitzhugh back in the late 1880s. It was based on a beautiful home he saw in Massachusetts called Kragsyde. At this point fiction melds delightfully with history, because Kragsyde was a home that did actually exist from 1885 until it was razed in 1929. It was built by George Nixon Black Jr., a wealthy heir to a Boston real estate fortune. Continue reading Recreating An Historic Home