“As the years pass, I keep thinking that our greatest lack today is an attic. Modern homes never have them, with the result that young people live only in their own generation, feeling no intimate connection with the past. Their roots will go deeper if their homes have attics?”
from “More Than Petticoats” – the chapter on Maude Frazier, an early Nevada educator
While house hunting in anticipation of our move from California to Kansas, I made a list of features I wanted in a house. One of those was amble space for a proper library for my husband’s bibliophile habit, like a proper attic.
Included on the list was a home with history and character. We were weary of So Cal subdivision, one story, no basement, no character houses. It was, well, boring!
Our time in Europe had awakened a need for the character and history of an older home. Our realtor understood, and scoped out homes in the older “classic” neighborhoods of Wichita.
She found it curious that before looking at the kitchen and bath or number of bedrooms we headed for the basement and/or attic. We needed serious space for this library.
Early Attic Dreams
The house I grew up was a two story frame with the second story almost attic like. Sleeping among the gables in my second story bedroom brings back cozy memories.
When we first looked at the historic home we eventually purchased, it was the attic that clinched the deal. Images of a library rivaling Arundel drew us in.
My husband’s books still rest in boxes up there, patiently waiting for the home they have been promised. We have a vision, and even plans drawn up, but other necessary steps seem to extend the path as we travel toward that dream library in the sky.
At the moment, we are finishing the attic of the little house, the 1900’s house we purchased next to the “big house”. This place will be an interim home so the historic restoration of Maison Steinbuchel may proceed unencumbered.
Attics Elevate And Transcend
Neither of the attics we are working on had much left in them. No great Antiques Road Show finds, except some artifacts of previous residents, including a very old partially drunk bottle of vermouth!
There is something about being “up there” above the rest of the house and the folks at street level. It is quieter, yet there are sounds one misses when on the ground:
- the wind fluttering the slate tiles on the big house,
- birds in the tree tops next to the window of the little house,
- other noises that travel unhindered and, sometimes, a special silence.
Even though neither of the attics have ever been properly finished, they were used. The little house, had a small finished room under one of the gables housed the brother in-law of the owner around the time of WWI complete with it’s own mailing address!
In the big house, stairs behind a door in the back hallway leads up to the third floor. In both attics there was tongue-in-grove floor installed and judging from the broken toys left behind in both spaces, there is no doubt children played up there.
Attics connect us to the past, even if not our own. Yet they have great purpose and inspiration for today. We look forward to the day of curling up with a book, and soaking in the upper chambers of these homes.
How does space affect your sense of inspiration and connection? Please comment below.
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