Why Old Homes Matter

“Home Sweet Home” May 1961. The Wehr Homestead now cared for by Aaron and Danielle Foulk (that’s me!). Photo courtesy of Kelly Wehr.

Have you heard of the old house community? This unique group of people embody a love for the past and understand the value of homes that were built by the earliest American settlers. It’s a love that is unique to this community alone.

The early American settlers were a grass roots cohort of trailblazers who didn’t realize the legacy they would leave behind when they built their homes. They didn’t know what would ever come of their “home sweet home” but they built them with an immense amount of pride which a growing number of people appreciate enough to risk, sometimes everything, to save now a days.

The stories of every caretaker vary when it comes to saving these rare homes because old homes have different needs. Most would tell you that somehow these early homes know how to select the next caretaker to watch over her. When old house love is formed between a home and the next caretaker, there is a respect that takes shape. Most old house caretakers will tell you that rather than flipping their old house in a brief period time, there is value in letting the changes evolve. Time allows for you to understand these homes, to discover what may have been hastily removed or tossed in the trash. It takes time to notice the smallest of details, such as a name scribed into the dinning room floor.

There is a reality of old house love which is not truly depicted in any television show because it would likely take years to capture of the house itself. But what would be captured would be an entirely different  approach of creating “home.” You see, along side of saving old homes, these old house loving hearts are seeking other endeavors alongside house projects in effort to get back to the basics like our earlier settlers engaged in. They take up interest in gardening and other self-sustaining efforts. In a way they are trying to incorporate more of the simplicity of life that existed long ago and that old homes aren’t a stranger to.

Children of John (jr) and Nancy Pierson Wehr. Early family members of the Wehr Homestead in Southwest Ohio. Photo courtesy of the Miller Family.

In addition to turning back time when it comes to daily living, old house owners are becoming the modern day storytellers of days long ago. They not only take the time to maintain their old homes, but they take on, what is sometimes the most intricate puzzle, to uncover the stories and lives  of who came before them. Endless hours are spent researching, sifting through various documents, and reaching out to complete strangers so the stories and lives that have been forgotten over time are once again are able to be shared and appreciated on the front porches of these homes.

The stories of these homes often leave you at times breathless. They have not only experienced a multitude of weather, but their walls have witnessed a vast range of emotions from happiness to extreme grief. These homes stand today not only because of the pride and effort when built, but because of the centuries of lives that have breathed life into them.

The next time you see an old home, whether fixed up or a little weathered, I hope you’ll see it in a new light. I hope you can see how these homes reflect a past time that we can see in no other way. These relics left behind are a reminder of the people and families who traveled across seas, endured circumstances we could never imagine and were some of the first to establish the foundation of what our country is built on today.

Own and old home and want to keep it’s history alive? It’s easy! Email me @ thefederalfarmhouse@gmail.com to have your home’s story featured here!

From the middle,

Danielle, Farmhouse Storyteller

Additional photos of the Wehr family at our now home.

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