Thursday, June 12, 2008


This aging beauty displays many of the qualities inherent to Mathews. She's an honest, simple, wooden structure. A dying breed who is clinging to her roots and refusing to let go no matter how hard outside influences try to force her to change.

And now it is time to stop talking about me (all except the beauty part...and perhaps the wooden structure part, although that is debatable; particular emphasis on the simple part) and start talking about houses in Mathews.

Mathews, Middlesex and Gloucester Counties are loaded with old houses of the same vintage: two-story, white clapboard farmhouses with multiple chimneys, green trim, green shutters and green roof. Some have incredible porches, others have remarkable outbuildings. The kitchen was usually located in a wing directly off the back to keep any potential fires confined to one place. Or that's what I've been told. By someone. At some point. Probably in a dream. Or not at all. Many of these homes are still lived in, many have been updated, but too many are skeletons like the one shown here.

I'm a substitute driver for Meals on Wheels. (The rest of my resume is more impressive and includes such occupations as strawberry picker, substitute lifeguard, monorail operator and career development manager for a global consulting firm in downtown DC. Excuse me while I go cry in the corner about that last job. The only careers being developed there were the employee's next one - I had to fire a kajillion people or at least tell managers how they could get away with firing people. It was very cut-throat. I get high blood pressure just thinking about it. Of course I also get high blood pressure looking at my mountain of laundry. Back to the point. What was it again?)

This particular day my daughter and I covered the Mobjack route, and this house was close to two of my stops. I should state that although I am talking about the typical Mathews farmhouse (as well as my previous jobs, totally unrelated), this structure actually is atypical, and I'd wager it was used as either a store, an inn or something else besides a home. It would have made far too much sense to post a picture of typical farmhouse when that's what I am trying to explain.

To impress you with my architectural knowledge, I'll point out that those three upside down V-type structures across the roof are unique as are the two overhangs coming from the front doors. Two front doors? Extremely uncommon. For all I know this is a picture of some historic landmark that everyone else knows about except me. That would be common.

There are so many things I love about delivering to these older people, but most of all I relish every interaction with them, the last of the truly old-fashioned Mathewsonians. They speak with the thick Mathews accent I knew growing up; they live in very small, modest houses; they are unpretentious, straight forward, kind people with very few requirements in life.

The older folks are like these older homes: beautiful tributes to a bygone era when life was much simpler and less demanding.


Mental P Mama said...

So glad you do this. There is so much wisdom to be had from these folks.

Bear Naked said...

That house looks like a real handymans' special.
Imagine having the time, energy and money to fix it up.

MommyTime said...

Just in case you want to know (which you may not; if not, sorry), the two upside down v's on the right are dormer windows -- essentially, they punch a hole in the roof-line and stick out a window in a box like that in order to make a room on the 2nd floor with a ceiling you can actually stand under. The one on the left is just a roof line turned perpendicular to the rest of the roof. Don't know its name, though I'm sure an architect would know (I just play one on tv).

The two entrances suggest this might have been what we now call a duplex. These were common in some parts of the country in the 19th century; siblings, for example, would each have half the house, or parents on one half, married kids w/grandkids on the other.

And that is the best I can offer. I love this old house and that classic color scheme and wish I could have one just like it (but without the sag).

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Thank you, mommytime. I knew somebody out there would know something.

There are tons of these around here but sadly most are in a state of decay. I could probably post a different one up here for a month and hardly scratch the surface.

mpm and bn - thanks for stopping by.

Happy Friday, everyone.

Anonymous said...

Those old houses make me sad. Someone once built that house with pluck and determination. Marriages were consummated there. Children were raised there. And then at some point, for whatever reason, people stopped caring for that house. And now it's going back to Mother Nature, who will take her own sweet time and allow it to slowly decay and fall apart. Mother Nature has all day.

That photo is especially poignant when you click on it and make it larger.

Thanks for some wonderful writing, too. We should totally have a beer together one day.

Grandma J said...

That house reminds me of my grandparents' house on their farm in New England. Way to big for the two of them, but it had been in my grandfather's family for eons. They closed off the upstairs as they grew older...a waste of heat in the winter. They had two chimneys because one of them was from the wood stove in the kitchen.
Thanks for jogging some of the rust out of my memory bank.

cats said...

This reminds me of my mother's homeplace. There are 2 Magnolia trees in the front yard. My mother planted one of them when she was a child. This house is falling down too. Maybe we can go get a shot of it sometime. I think it is terrible to let these houses fall down like this. It is definitely the end of an era when life was much simpler, and people enjoyed the simple pleasures of life, like swinging and talking on the front porch.

foolery said...

My porches sag just like that, but thanks to a good bra, I'm perky as a teenager.


kaffy said...

Yes, I love that picture too. Just like Soup, I like to click on it to see the enlarged version. You can see an old chair by one of the doors. Once upon a time someone used to sit in that chair. Wouldn't it be freaky if you looked at one of the upper windows and saw a face?? Mwahahahaha. I'm plenty happy that there are no visible faces staring out. I'd like to sleep tonight, thank you.
Foolery--glad your porches aren't swinging low, you perky teenager, you. If only I was blessed with such porches... Damn genetics.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Soup - exactly what i think of when i see these beauties. i wonder what sort of families lived there, and mourn the fact that we'll never know the entire story.more importantly i mourn the fact that these structures will succomb to the elements sealing the fact that we'll never know their story.

grandma j - you are describing exactly what my parents, who live in a 1900's farmhouse, do to this day. they partition off sections of the house and decide which ones to heat/air condition/ live in.

cats - we do need to get photos of that place. i believe i know exactly where you're talking about, and it would be a GREAT place to photograph. remind me about this and i'll do it.

foolery - i love you.
kaffy - i love you too.

Anonymous said...

When I look at the beautiful home, all I can think about is....the lipstick comments from the last blog. Can we revisit this topic? I pay a lot of money for glosses, liners and lipsticks that look natural, but dewey. Clorox clean-up (and a rag or sponge) works great, but then you still have to put them in the dishwasher. -middle sister

cats said...

hey sister of cbw,
I think cbw should do a dedication blog to make-up and lipstick. You are right. We spend a small fortune on trying to look great. Not everyone can be blessed with beautiful skin and lips that doesn't need any enhancements, like cbw. I spend an hour a day trying to look my best. She can get out of bed and go and she is a natural beauty. Sickening isn't it.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Middle Sis: Dewy? There's so much I could say but I will take the high road and refrain. Dewy?

cats - Thanks.....I think.

Grandma J said...

BWAAA HA! My imaginination is running wild wondering just what CBW would say about Dewey if she took the low road!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Middle Sis: Your little sis is here, and she has reminded me of QUITE THE STORY about your lips. I'm sure you remember it - would you care to stay on this topic or shall we move on to something else?

grandma j - It's so darn tempting to dive head first off the high road. Soooo tempting. Especially with Little Sis visiting tonight.

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