Blank stares couldn’t be broken as I tirelessly clicked link after link after link after link after link for hard wood floors, crown molding, thick trims, large windows and a good price tag. A bonus would be the amount of land surrounding it. Perhaps it sat on the edge of town not too far from a stream or thick wooded area. It’s proximity to Des Moines would be less than an hour. We realized very quickly that all this would be hard to attain, so lines were drawn through some requirements. Luke had an attraction to the more masculine heavy fronts of craftsman style homes. I on the other hand tended to favor the delicate details and slender look of a Victorian. We searched craigslist, realtors, trulia, iowa realty, old house dreams and countless other websites until somewhere, somehow we found the one. It pleased us both with its heavy brick and sweet porches, its ta-da curb appeal and beautiful stained glass windows.
We made an appointment to see 1201 and three others. We met our realtor at the brick house. We didn’t see any others that day; we didn’t need to. The following weekend our parents were asked to join us, though we knew their support was already to be had. Luke’s father, a man who spends his days rebuilding, renovating and constructing homes saw another project he and his son could do together. My mother, the artists, could assist in choosing paint swatches and furniture. His mother and my father kindly brought us back to reality, asking us if we wanted the next few decades of our lives to be dedicated to renovating a home from 1888 in Perry, Iowa.
I began to search the internet with what little information I had. 1201 had been registered as the Red Brick House B&B, though had never had the opportunity to see the light of day as one. It sat empty for years. The owner who had purchased the home in 1999 had begun the process of renovation. He became ill and it sat untouched and empty for years. Three years of taxes were paid by a lawyer who had never seen the home. He would then buy it out right at the tax sale for less than $700. The allotted time would pass before he himself could sell it. Neighbors inquired longing to purchase and see the home finished for once. We acted swiftly offering a low ball price (just over half the asking) and he countered with just slightly above. The process was quick and we knew within days that the house would be ours. What we didn’t know after the purchase was that the man who had lost it at the tax sale would be living two doors down. A google map search of the home exposed an image from 2009 that housed the trailer with the missing trim and perhaps the missing doors. One loop around the block and the trailer was spotted. Our neighbors to the south kindly came over and introduced themselves relaying this information. An uneasy feeling settled in the pit of my stomach. A man who had spent countless hours devoted to this home, who had then gotten sick and lost it in such an evil way made us feel dirty, but we also really wanted the interior doors, the handles, the trim, the radiators, and the flooring. We decided to introduce ourselves….