Old ways are sometimes better ways

Have any of you thought about why homes that were built the way they were in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s? Features like small closets or no closets, big kitchens with few cabinets or little kitchens with fewer cabinets, screened porches on the second floors off bedrooms, and not to mention cisterns in the basements.  Our material oriented society today has turned us into excess consumers who incorporate those wants and needs into home designs that are currently popular.

I personally laugh to myself when I have buyers tell me that they want a bedroom for each child. Whatever happened to sharing and caring when you have more than one male or female child? The small closets of the past were built to hold two sets of work clothes and likely one or two sets of dress clothes. The fewer cabinets in a kitchen meant that someone had to shop more at the grocery store and likely daily. Isn’t it better to have more fresh food on the table? Even today in Europe’s larger cities it is common for people to do their grocery shopping every day after work. And by the way, they use their own re-useable canvas shopping bags. Upper screened porches in two story homes had a double use; they normally had hooks that were strung with temporary clothes lines to dry their wash, and in the summer when it was so hot, they were used as sleeping porches. I have been in real estate long enough to remember seeing cots with thin mattresses on those upper porches.

Some of you are familiar with cisterns. They were constructed to hold rain water coming off the roof that was then diverted via the downspouts to fill them. That water was then manually pumped by hand back up to the attic where there was a large galvanized tank that was plumbed into the “3rd” faucet of the basement laundry room as well as the bathroom and sometimes the kitchen.

That natural soft water was used for washing clothes and bathing. Water softeners are a relatively new creation. What I not so long ago discovered is that, in California there are more expensive districts with larger yards where the owners have constructed huge underground cisterns to store diverted rain water that is used to water their lawns and trees. I have to give credit where credit is due, California has re-invented ways to save on natural resources.

Joe Chodur

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