This Old House: It’s Having A 300th Birthday, But There Won’t Be A Celebration
On rare occasions, history bequeaths us an opportunity to live in an old house that speaks deeply of its rich past, an experience that is far more common in the U.K. and Europe than the comparatively young U.S.
I had one such opportunity in the 1980s when I lived in the John Evans House, a gem of an architectural crazy quilt in a secluded valley north of Newark, Delaware near where Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon drew their famous line. It is where my children were born and spent their early years, a rather isolated existence for youngsters who didn’t have any place to ride their bikes, needed to be mindful of not getting too close when playing near the woodstove in the winter, and had to be driven to town to trick-or-treat on Halloween. But even at their tender age they appreciated, as we grown-ups certainly did, the sublime beauty of the house and its surroundings.
The John Evans House is 300 years old this year, but there won’t be a celebration.
This is because the U.S. is different than our cousins across the pond in another way. We simply don’t particularly value our past. While the occasional old pile gets razed in the U.K. and Europe, old houses typically are revered, maintained through the ages and restored as necessary, while here too many old houses are just a wrecking ball away from a highway interchange, shopping center or burger joint. Or worse, die a slow death from neglect, which is the fate of the Evans House.
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