That sentimentality has always included the community and people within it. Even after we were married, my wife and I remained within a few miles of where we grew up. Whether it was Saratoga Springs, Greenfield Center, or Wilton, we have always embraced that sense of 'place.' While others dream of moving south to avoid a thermometer drop and snow shovel, I relish in the feeling that I am right where I belong. That feeling leads me to the soul of this story.
We bought our current home on Northern Pines Rd. from Lorraine and Hubert Westcott in 1981. In the early 1950s, the Westcotts purchased a set of plans and a mountainous stockpile of lumber. First, they constructed a small building, which they lived in before building the larger house in 1953. After moving into the main home, they converted the original building into a two-car garage.
A few years ago, the Westcotts’ daughter Laurie contacted me and shared some of her fondest memories of growing up here. When her mother passed in June 2019, Laurie and I had an opportunity to reminisce about her parents and the home they had built. We began to share stories and photographs of the property. I had recently retired and become more involved in local historical societies. Knowing Lorraine Westcott had served several years as Wilton Town Historian only increased my desire to learn more about the property. I discovered that the Wilton School #1 once stood just north of our home.
LEFT: Prior to 1953. Notice the wallpaper border running along the top of the wall. The wall to the right of the television had two overhead doors added and is now the front of the garage. MIDDLE: Prior to 1953. The Westcotts' garden in the foreground; the strawberries still come up every year. RIGHT: Smaller house (current garage) the Westcotts lived in while building the main house in 1953. Note palletized stacks of lumber on the left used to build the main house.
A shared story emerged when I sent Laurie a photograph of her mother and father's initials, I had found carved in my basement's cement floor. The initials had white lines painted over them. I explained that when my sons were little, I painted imaginary roads all through the basement so they could ride their Western Auto pedal tractors on them. She was excited to tell me that she also spent many hours riding her older siblings’ 50’s era peddle cars down there.
Last summer, I was replacing windows in my garage when I found some old wallpaper border that remained. I snapped a picture and sent it to Laurie. She remembered the design and was delighted to know those remnants of her family's past still existed in the recesses of my garage. I found additional wallpaper traces recently while renovating the room where I'm currently writing this piece.
The spirit of sharing these photos and reflections is personal yet universal. History buffs embrace the past and savor the warmth it provides us. We create our home's history in our actions and our choices. Bringing others along for the ride is fun and rewarding.
Home improvement is an infinite project. It took me twenty years to appreciate the DIY factor. In the early years, the primary reason for cringing at every turn was either time or money. Plumbing issues, electrical upgrades, and contractor-phobia all dictate that next chess-move when it comes to repairing or replacing something. It took forty years to get to a point where I had the resources to enjoy the homeowner experience in full. I never had everything worked out at once. Now that I have it all figured out, my coffee breaks exceed the allowable limits. The best lesson I've learned with forty-plus years of homeownership is how to handle surprises. Now that I know the complete background of our home, I have a deeper appreciation for the physical and mental fortitude it took to build it from the foundation up. Having that history makes finding a crooked wall or a foot-long wood screw more of an archaeological discovery rather than an inconvenience.
I want to thank the Westcotts’ past and present for adding good karma and fond memories to our home's foundation. My family and I have done our best to ensure the historical and optimistic aura of our half-acre lives on.
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