Sunday, August 29, 2010

Last Visit to the Old House in PA

Our former home at 161 Crawford Road, Downingtown, PA today

Bill and I just returned from a day long trip to our former home in the woods outside of Downingtown, PA.

We are exhausted.  The drive up and back is a total of five hours.  That's a lot of hours on the road on a hot, humid and brutal day like today for two old buzzards like me and Bill.  With the exception of perhaps one or two days, this whole summer has been a succession of brutally hot and humid days of 90 degrees plus temperatures.  Today was no exception.

Today's visit to our formerly beautifully landscaped home on 6.875 of wooded acres in East Brandywine Township was bittersweet.  This was our last visit before the house and property will be auctioned off for non payment of back real estate taxes in excess of $17.000.  The owner also owes over $600,000 in mortgage payments plus penalties, interest and legal costs. There is also a per diem cost.  The meter is ticking.

Apparently the former owner just walked away from the property that he bought from us on November 17, 2006 for $500,000.  He lived in Florida and saw our home advertised on the Internet.  We later found out that his wife had threatened to leave him unless he moved her and their two young daughters out of the brutal heat and humidity of Florida.

There is another whole story about how I almost went off the financial cliff with selling my house that I won't go into great detail here except to say that I originally put my house up for sale January 9th, 2006 at a price of $695,000.  Yes, I got greedy.  My real estate agent advised me to put it on the market for $650,00 and be happy if I got a settlement of $625,000.  But, I fell into the "I know better than the real estate agent" trap and insisted that I could get a better price.

On January 14th I had an offer of $640,000 which I turned down.  I actually laughed at the offer.  What I didn't know was at that time I was right on the edge of the housing bubble.  Eleven months later, after seven failed settlements, I was finally able to sell my house for $500,000.  Except for maybe a terminal illness, this was the worst experience I've ever had in my life.  I was at the cliff's edge and I saw the abyss.  It was the scariest thing I ever saw in my life.

Where I almost went down the financial tubes was I had built another house in Delaware (the one I'm in now) and was carrying a mortgage on that house at the same time I was trying to sell my other house.  The market found out (probably because of my big mouth) and they smelled blood in the water.  After a lot of scrambling and sleepless nights, I was finally able to sell my house to this man who was trying to keep his marriage together and me trying to keep Bill from committing suicide.  Me?  I was going crazy.

On September 19th our house will be auctioned off at the Chester County Courthouse in West Chester, Pennsylvania.  We will not be there.  This chapter of our life is closed.

Bill took a few more videos today.  I took a few pictures.

Me surveying the neglect of our former home from one of the terraces that Bill built - he laid every brick by hand over a 20 year period

The video and the pictures don't show the true neglect that has befallen our once showpiece property.

Whoever gets this property will be getting a real bargain.

One thing is for sure, the birds and other wildlife don't seem to mind that there isn't anyone living there anymore.

My only regret are the loss of all my goldfish that thrived in my three ponds.  Most of those goldfish were born in this ponds and that was the only life they knew.  They are long gone.  The ponds are still there, dark and dank.  The only living organisms in those ponds now are mosquito larvae and toads.

The Dual Ponds with water fountain - May 1980

Happy goldfish waiting for me to feed them

Dual Ponds  - many generations of goldfish were born in these ponds

I hope whoever buys the property will restore it to it's former glory and enjoy it as much as we did the twenty five years that we lived there.  That property used to sing.  I hope it does again.


  1. This property will survive. It;s amazing what a house, home, will go through in its many years on this earth. It will be loved again.

  2. Mike,

    It is a wonderful property. You and Glenn would love it. I wish I could have shown it to you when we lived there and the property was in its glory.

    The way it is situated is like a Shangra-La. It is an oasis. Everyone loved it. We're still in shock at what has happened to it. So sad.

    I think you're right though, it will shine again and be loved.


  3. A comment from my former sister-in-law that she posted on Facebook after reading my blog posting about my last visit to my former home in Pennsylvania:
    Phyllis wrote:
    "I have many happy memories of visits to the home that you and Bill built. And yes, it is very sad to see what has become of it over the last few years. It really was a showplace....inside and out....I don't think I was ever over there that Bill wasn't building something, or you weren't adding something to your gardens! I'm glad that the two of you made a final visit to the property, but sorry that it had to be so bittersweet. Maybe in another year or two you'll decide to visit again....and the place will once again be "singing"....I hope so. I hope that whoever buys it will realize the potential, and will turn it back into the haven that it once was. "


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