Our House: Brandywine

Brandywine is the house we bought about ten years ago. Yes, we bought a house with a name. What kind of folks name their house? Two artists who had lived in Europe where I guess all the houses have names. Personally, I would have named the place Bob or Sally, but they named it Brandywine after a marionette that they used in an act.
This house has one very interesting pedigree, folks.

Unfortunately, many of the updates were shoddily done, and we're having to undo much of what the folks before us did.

We are 'hos to this house.
This is where we'll show you the pictures of all the money we are sinking into making this space livable, while still maintaining the character.

About the BV (our neighborhood):

The Buena Vista/Reynolda Historic District (which is actually a misnomer, as the streets they are using only encompass about a third of the Buena Vista neighborhood as set forth by the Buena Vista Neighborhood Association, of which I am a card-carrying member. Or I would be, if they actually gave out cards.) is famous for its homes, which average $534, 601. Some of you (especially those of you on the coasts) might say: “What? That’s chump change! I paid that for my two-bedroom condo!” And to you folks my response is: “You’re a dip$hit! Move to NC where the average house costs $217, 106!” (See how I snuck that fact in there? That’s TALENT, my friends.) The data shows that most of these homes have nine or more rooms, with an average of four bedrooms. I feel it’s only appropriate to add that we have some big honkin’ houses in this neighborhood. There are a few that could easily require those “you are here” signs posted throughout. Living on the fringe as I do, my home is not one of them. If you walk in my front door and look around, you know exactly where you are. The only thing you can’t see from there is the bathroom (which is a good thing, in my opinion, because who wants to see the toilet from the front door? I bet that’s some bad feng shui, what with the potential for not everything getting flushed, if you get my drift.)

Most of these homes are older--with the bulk of them having been built in the 1940s. There is an occasional new home, because there has been a trend toward buying the older homes that have not been updated, tearing them down, and putting a McMansion in its place. But the ever-vigilant BV Neighborhood Association has put legislation in place that has made it more difficult to do this. Builders now have to have their plans approved by the BVNA. And going before a tribunal of BV blondes and their lawyer/CEO/Wake Forest University Professor husbands is NOT for the faint of heart. The Buena Vista Blondes have pitchforks and torches, and they are not afraid to use them.

More on Brandywine, from a 2008 blog:

If you have been following this blog, some of you may be asking yourselves, "What's a nice woman like her doing in a neighborhood like that?" Okay, maybe none of you are, but I will tell the story anyway. Those of you who are not interested, please leave now. But not everybody. Some of you have to stay so that my feelings don't get hurt.

When we began looking for a house, we consciously avoided this neighborhood. "The people are snobs," we said. "The homes are way overpriced," we argued. "We can't afford it," we stated. But then this house came on the market for the first time in twenty-five years.

Now, one of you peeps will understand when I say that I drove past this house a couple of times a week for twenty years, and each time I thought to myself, "Hmmm...I wonder what that house looks like on the inside." Because the outside is different from most of the other homes in our fair city. It's like an English country cottage crossed with a something on Cape Cod or Nantucket--long and low, built with cedar shakes and brick with weeping mortar topped with a slate roof, a cupola and a weathervane. It has a summerhouse in the back yard and a slate sidewalk and patio. Two stone lions sleep on pedestals on either side of the circular drive. In short, it looks like a house in a storybook.

My husband took one look at it (from the outside) and said, "I've earned this house." How could I argue with that?

The inside--another story. The old owners were just that...old. And there were some problems with mental incompetence. For example, when we went on the final walk-through, we found that the living room floor was gone. Vanished. They had torn it up and taken it with them. And that was just the beginning. Live wires dangling from the walls, not connected to anything. Dry rot beneath the kitchen and powder room. A yard completely taken over by ivy. Dead boxwoods. The list goes on.

But that's why we're here, in the rich folk's neighborhood. This house NEEDED us. And my husband needed this house.

Who am I to disagree?

A tour of the finished spaces:


Hallway Bathroom:


Eclectically Vintage said...

So glad to have found you! I too bought the most horrible house (hubs called it a crack house!) on the block and did a total reno on it! The neighborhood is great and now the house is too! Following along and can't wait to see what you are up to.

Kolein said...

I figure since we might be cousins, I'd start at the beginning and get to know you. OK. I realize you like Wegmans, but not more than Genny Cream Ale. YUK. But that wouldn't be why I loved you or didn't love you. Your writing is hilarious and serious like dirt, all at the same time. Love that!!!!

So I cannot wait to peruse here and stop over a little each day. You may get a few comments. I tend to "post" when I comment. I have the itch to do that everywhere, except my own blog. Ahwell!

So happy to meet YOU!!!!!!!! And I loved reading the story above!


The Captain's Daughter said...

Love your house story! When we first decided to make this area home we looked at the BV area but only because our sons were enrolled at St. Leo's Catholic school and we wanted to live nearby. The homes we toured were not as expensive as the homes where we'd just left (Monterey, CA) so sticker-shock was not our problem. What was our problem and ultimately the reason for NOT choosing to buy a home in the Buena Vista area (or Boon-a-vista, as our agent called it) is the closeness of the homes and smaller lots. Not as small as our "postage-stamp" lot in California, but still too close for comfort since moving to NC, in our minds meant wide-open spaces. In the end we chose a house we couldn't imagine living in - one full of 70's-era flocked wall paper, cottage-cheese ceilings, a brown kitchen sink, shag carpeting, a tiny master bathroom and not a walk-in closet to be found - what the house did have going for it was a price tag under $200k, which meant lots of money left over to remodel and sink a pool in the yard and, nearly two acres of open space. As a bonus, the acreage is situated so that there can be no back yard neighbors and we only have one neighbor on one side of the property - on that side we installed plenty of landscaping so that we hardly know there are neighbors at all.

I think your neighborhood is lovely and I always take the long way home from Whole Foods just to drive through to look at the stately older mansions. I feel the same way you do about people buying the older home just for the land and hate seeing them torn down. I am super-eager to see how the mansion that's currently for sale near the 5-points intersection is treated after it sells. I soooo hope it survives its new owners. I love your husband's comment that he "deserves" your home. My husband said the same thing when he saw the property around our home - he's always wanted to garden and here, he has plenty to work with!

Thank you for sharing the wonderful story of how you came to live at Brandywine. And, for the record, it's not just Europe where homes are named. Almost all the homes in Carmel, Monterey and especially in Pebble Beach are named!

Always my best -


The Bearded Iris said...

DAMMIT, Kirby. Why couldn't I have known you when I lived on Friar Tuck Road in Sherwood Forest? Maybe I would have lasted longer than 23 months in WS if I had had a soul sister like you to giggle about the BV Blondes with. Brandywine sounds incredible. Can't wait to see more!

Paige Frank said...

I saw a house listing for Leatherwood and started reading about Earline and Joe. I saw Joe's works (a little on the racy side...seems he had a thing for breasts) and Earline's. She looked like a classy lady!! Anyway, fun to read about Brandywine too! Can't believe he left Earline. Also interesting to read he lost an arm when he was 11 years old. Fascinating stuff!! Wonder who her estate went to since she was an only child and had no children. Just curious....like you!!

Jean @ www.thebackyardbungalow.com said...

Okay, they took the floor? I hope you didn't take that lying down and sued their old asses!

ART aka Anna-Ruth Taynton said...

Hahaha! I love your story :) We have similar attitudes down here in South Florida...

Art and Sand said...

Yes, the house needed you.

But, why did they take the floor and what did they do with it?

Michelle Holmes said...

I am from NC as well. And, not far from where you live. I live in Stokes County! Love this beautiful State.

Rue said...

This has got to be one of the best introductions for a home ever! I laughed hard when I read dipshits LOL

And yes the house needed you both and I'm glad you have it :)


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