RELICS WITHIN

Picture it. It is 1775 in a small town in south Massachusetts. Settlers work busily to construct their homes for their families and establish their new life in what has yet to become the United States of America.  While some settlers may have thought of it, most likely did not know that what they were constructing would be considered some of the last relics of their time and highly valued by what would become known as the old house community on a platform called social media.

Jordan and Benjamin Crossman found themselves at the end of their lease of their apartment in 2016 and the monthly expense on the rise. Since a monthly mortgage was going to be less than their apartment’s rent, it was time to begin looking for a place they could call “home.” Like many homebuyers, Benjamin and Jordan were looking for a house within a budget and a good school district for their children.

Benjamin and Jordan Crossman

The Crossman’s search for their new home took them to a small town in south Massachusetts where listings were scarce.  After looking at two homes within this quiet small town, they came across one more listing that had potential, a colonial cape built in 1775. After nearly 250 years of having been built by a modest family, this quaint home included gorgeous wood floors which were likely laid in the mid 1800’s and fastened with hand cut nails and two original fireplaces at either side of the home. One of which they uncovered and is now a beautiful focal point in their dining room. Having two fireplaces sets this home apart from the others in town because most homes had one center chimney.

No different from any other old home you encounter, the Crossman’s colonial had been updated over time with a pink bathroom from the 1950’s and what was once groovy lime green carpet from the 1960’s. While these past trends were less than ideal, it did not keep the Crossman’s from seeing the potential. 5 years ago, they signed the papers on their first house and moved in the very same day. This is when Jordan and Benjamin started working one room at a time and like any old home, there was a surprise that was about to be uncovered.  “A gift from the past,” as Jordan refers to them.

Hidden within the walls.

When it was time to tackle the bathroom Jordan and Benjamin were met with an unexpected find hidden between the walls. 6 different leather shoes! While most people do not hide shoes within the walls of their new homes today, it was a fairly common practice in the 1800’s as families believed it was good luck and would ward off evil spirits. Upon completing their bathroom renovation, Jordan decided to honor the house by placing the shoes within a beautiful wooden shadow box to display them where they were found.

In addition to finding the leather shoes, the Crossman’s have found newspaper clippings from the early 1900’s, a shoe box cover, old spools for thread, an old wine jug in the basement, and a deteriorating purse.  But one of the very first things that was not found, but given to them, was a photo of the home from a previous owner that was taken in 1921 which is proudly displayed in their home.  

Old homes are not for the faint of heart.

You can ask the Crossman’s themselves; old homes are not for the faint of heart.  Jordan shared that she feels “Old homes are worth saving. They are a part of the history of this country…They were usually made better by people who worked far harder. They were built out of love by the very people who were going to live there and enjoy it and not just for profit. That always deserves to be saved.”

With the same sentiments embraced, they have found preserving their nearly 250-year-old home often comes with a bigger price tag and requires more time to complete because nothing is square or plumb leaving it up to them to complete the math and shim until it is right.  While bigger projects may make a home more comfortable and functional, Jordan has found that not everything has to be difficult and expensive.  “My home has taught me that first, paint is like magic and is a cheap fix that can do wonders to any room.”

When asking Jordan why she loves living in an old home, she shared she has “always loved history and this home being built before America was officially a country is truly amazing. I always think about the families that lived here before us and what life was like over 200 years ago. Our home was there to see all the changes that have happened. Being a part of its history is an honor.”

A photo of the Crossman’s home from 1921.
Photo Credit: Jordan Crossman @theoldcrossmancolonial

While they have not found all the names of the families who have cared for their home, the Crossman’s have learned that in the mid-1900’s a family of 7 lived in their 3-bedroom 1 bathroom home which has given Jordan a new perspective on what makes a home special. “You don’t have to have a ton of money and buy a big fancy home to make your home feel special. Just be creative and make what you have work for you and enjoy being close to the people who matter most… it’s made special because of the people I get to share it with and who have helped me make it into a home.”

While knowing a lot or just a little about an old home and its history, they tend to have a way of leading you down the road of wonder. With the Crossman’s home having endured nearly 90,000 days one cannot help but imagine who walked in the door of their home or just who may have passed by. Jordan shared, “I would love to think that George Washington has maybe stopped here at some point on his way to Cambridge but unfortunately, we don’t know much about who lived here or came here any earlier than the 1900’s.”

With plenty of more days ahead for this old home, thanks to the Crossman’s agreeing to be the caretakers, work will continue in the coming days, months, and years in effort to sustain this home and its legacy. The Crossman’s just finished up adding some more counter space and cabinets to their kitchen and like many homeowners, are waiting for lumber prices drop so they can get back to work on constructing a wall of built-in bookshelves and a window seat to Jordan’s office.  Until those prices drop, Benjamin and Jordan will continue to admire their one-of-a-kind historic relic of the past.

Want to see more of the Crossman’s home + keep up with their journey? Head to Instagram and follow Jordan’s account @theoldcrossmancolonial

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