Wednesday, May 28, 2008

House of the Week

Yesterday, intrepid Janet and I eagerly went to see the new listings. There were only a few because after a holiday some agents are still away, so it's better not to plan a broker's open for the following Tuesday.

Our eagerness surrounded the Thibault home at the corner of Onondaga and East Street. It's the big brick mansion that presides over smaller, newer homes in the area. I had seen the sign on Saturday as I drove out to the lake and immediately pulled up the price on my palm: $989,000. How do you price these homes?

We walked in the circular drive and felt a part of history. The name was "Teaselwood" and built in 1838 by a Mr. Snook who brought the teasel industry to Skaneateles. There's a barn-like structure not far down East Street that was sold as the teasel barn a few years ago - an amazing home and beautifully remodeled.

But this home has not been renvated in the same way. The walls curve, and we especially liked winding our way through the second floor jack and jill bathroom. The stairway lifts you up to the second floor so that you are constantly turning. And looking up - tin ceilings abound, as do fireplaces and those lovely long windows.

The kitchen boasts a huge wood-burning stove, and as Janet pointed out probably never was the kitchen 170 years ago. In the cellar, where the laundry is now, there remains a brick fireplace, where the servants presumably baked and scrubbed and produced incredible meals for the owners and their guests. Remember the Masterpiece Theatre "Upstairs, Downstairs"? I expected to see Mrs. Bridges in command and what-was-the-name-of-the-butler emerge from another one of the many back rooms to consult with her.

On the third floor the servants would have lived in the angled attic rooms. Not "done," it still added to the living space. From the outside we could see the windows they would have peered out - it's doubtful that there were any houses around the estate at the time it was built. And what a view they would have had of the lake!

The second floor contained three real bedrooms and a smaller room that could have easily been a bedroom. Off the front room was an alcove, in under the eaves and serving as a long closet currently. A lovely touch - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe came to mind.

The best part of the home in my opinion was the front enclosed porch with a window that opened into the parlor at some point in the past. There were other touches to the home - the wooden carved half openings in the sides for the front door wooden handles, the wrought iron trim above the bay window (Janet pointed out), and always the tin ceilings.

Should this sell at the asking price, there is precedent. The huge brick home out on Andrews Road sold for just under one million a few years ago. But other than that, the Falcone estate on Genesee Street, and another renovated home overlooking the water, all the other million dollar properties - 35 of them - have been waterfront.

Whoever does buy this historic home will undoubtedly make changes, but I hope they keep the integrity of the exterior - it truly is grand.