Eighteen years ago today, December 26, 2002, I saw Whitten House for the first time and knew within minutes it was the house I’d dreamed of owning and restoring since I was a little kid.
After two generations as the Whitten family home, it became the local public library in 1941. The library remained in the house for 60 years, moving 20,000 books to a new facility in 2001.
Inside, the rooms were still lined with bookcases, right over the windows; the floors were covered in gray commercial carpet; and fluorescent lights throughout and 1960s wallpaper in a few rooms gave parts of the house an incongruous Mod-ish vibe. There was no kitchen and only a half-bath tucked into the former location of the brick oven.
What I mostly saw were intact Federal and Greek Revival trim details with maybe two coats of paint in 180 years – their profiles as crisp and clean as when new; intact Gothic Revival wallpaper from the 1850s in the spiral stair hall; and an intact historic neighborhood. I had to have it.
Buying Whitten House was an important step toward eventually writing “Restoring Your Historic House, The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners.”
The 720 page award-winning and best-selling hardcover book is available in bookstores and from online retailers.
Signed and personalized copies are available directly from the author in the shop on this page, Shop – Your Historic House.
Your local bookstore can order copies from W.W. Norton.
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