The House on High Street - Extraordinary from the Unappealing

The House on High Street

20131001_104441Do you believe that something extraordinary can result from a scenario that may seem hopeless, unexpected, or unappealing?

The more I reflect on my life, stories I hear from others, and stories I read from the bible, the more I acknowledge that the most extraordinary people, life-events, and relationships evolve in a manner we least expect.

Sarah (Abraham’s wife) was old and barren before God fulfilled a promise and made her a parent (with Abraham) of the nation of Israel. Joseph was the oddball brother, sold into slavery due to jealousy and yet became the Prime Minister of Egypt. In turn, he saved the nation (as well as his family and those jealous brothers) from famine.

And, think about Jesus. Born in a stable, there was nothing that appeared royal or glamorous about him. He became poor, associated with the needy, and died on a cross so that you and I can live in eternity. 2 Corinthians 8:9  This alone should be reason enough to have faith and hope in any circumstance!  

On a personal note, I have experienced dozens of extraordinary events that resulted unexpectedly from scenarios that initially seemed hopeless or unappealing.

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The House on High Street

A few years ago, Scott showed me a real estate listing, for the House on High Street, along with pictures from the Internet.

We were living in an ocean-view condo, in Margate, at the time. I was working as a school administrator in a wonderful school district in a nearby neighborhood. We were looking at homes in that current area, so I didn’t know if Scott was suggesting this as a rental investment or a new home for us. (It would be an hour commute to my work, but closer to everything else in our lives.) I took one look at the house, and immediately rejected his idea. It was too old. It was too far. It was too big. It needed way too much work. It was too…ugly.

Now, up until this point in my life, nothing (and I mean nothing) had occurred in the standard way I had anticipated. And so, you would think by then that I would have been a little more open-minded and…yielding, per say.  But, no, I wasn’t there yet. I was still holding the reigns and trying to manipulate and control every circumstance in my life.

Well, as it turned out, buying the House on High Street was part of God’s plan for us. I just didn’t know it at the time.

A few months after I practically laughed at my husband’s idea, my life took a rapid diversion. In just a matter of months my health spiraled out-of-control. The harder I tried to keep up with the demands of my job, the more my body was shutting down. I experienced everything from physical symptoms (pain, insomnia, and extreme fatigue) to emotional symptoms (anxiety and depression) to neurological symptoms (dizziness, brain fog, confusion, and memory loss). I was diagnosed with several new and returning health issues. As a result, my doctor put me on an indefinite medical leave.

We can call this coincidental. But, God can do ALL things, such as controlling our circumstances or allowing things to happen for reasons we may or may not understand.

Fast-forward one year from the first time Scott showed me the House on High Street. By this point, I had retired from my career and was cooperating with several doctors to improve my health. We were still living in our ocean-view condo an hour away from Scott’s job, our family, and friends. We desperately needed a little more space than one bedroom.

In the meantime, the House on High Street was constantly getting offers. (Our realtor told us she had never shown a property so many times throughout her career.) Yet for whatever reason, no one was buying it. There was a lot of interest, several offers, and even a few contracts; but nothing ever materialized.

In the interim, I agreed to visit the house with Scott to see if we both felt something. Come to think of it, I think I was swayed because it was apparently “on the way” to visiting my brother’s house. Clever, Scott. Very clever.

The very first time Scott and I visited the house, something profound occurred. 

As we drove down High Street, there it was….amongst dozens of beautiful, perfect, expensive-looking homes in this charming historic neighborhood. By the way, I used to drive through this area every day on my way to work at a former job the year before we moved to Margate. God knows how many times I must have passed by this house, and never took notice. Scott and I had our 2nd date, right down the street, in what has become one of our favorite restaurants in this area.

Anyway, the house stood out like a monstrous and dilapidated eye sore that looked more to me like an orphanage than a single-family home.

We parked in the back of the house and entered through a broken-down addition that apparently once served as the servant’s kitchen. It had a dingy counter and sink (which was probably added like 30 years ago).

My First Impression of The House on High Street.
My First Impression of The House on High Street – The Ugly Kitchen!

It smelled like mildew. It was dusty and damp…and dark.

As we walked to the next room (in the back corner of the house; this would later become our kitchen), Scott opened a few blinds to let in some light. The ceilings were colossal to me. I am 5’10. Scott is 6’2”. We had never felt so small in a house before!

My Second Impression of The House on High Street - Hmmm. Interesting.
My Second Impression of The House on High Street – Hmmm. Interesting.

I remember walking on the creaky wood floors. “I’m not going to fall in, am I?”  I sarcastically asked our realtor while giving Scott the evil eye.

I then began to scan the walls, the windows, the doors…I actually didn’t say much at all, which I’m sure made Scott a little apprehensive.

I walked towards the center foyer (the house is a perfect square) and took a big gulp when I noticed the stairway leading up to a second and a third story. Um, ok. Now, I’m scared.

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My Third Impression of the House on High Street – Daunting!

Next, I entered the formal room (which was and would be the living room and dining room). Here, is when my jaw hit the floor. This was, of course, the room that attracted just about every other interested buyer.

My Third Impression of The House on High Street
My Fourth Impression of The House on High Street – Oh. Wow. Lovely.

It had marble fireplaces, exquisite crown molding, floor to ceiling windows, and antique chandeliers. As the prettiest room amongst the rest, Scott and I could easily understand that there really was some potential. I remember taking a deep breath, closing my eyes, and trying to see if any vision came to mind. There was something starting to form…

I went ahead of Scott (who was more interested in talking to the realtor about things I had no interest in, yet). I eagerly explored the 2nd and 3rd story bedrooms. There were so many windows, beautiful trim, and doorways that desperately needed TLC. Some rooms were in better condition than others.

I peered outside from one of the bedroom windows at the grounds (the home sits on about 2 acres of land) and I felt an indescribable peace settle upon my heart. I prayed that God would speak to my heart.

Views from Inside the House on High Street - Beautiful!
Views from Inside the House on High Street – Beautiful!

Moments later, Scott found me alone in one of the bedrooms and gave me a look, awaiting some kind of response. I didn’t say a word. I just walked up to him, threw my arms around him, and kissed him. We both smiled and agreed that this house was our home.

From that point on, I acknowledged the House on High Street with great respect. Scott and I both acquired a surge of motivation and inspiration to restore this massive run-down vacancy into an extraordinary dwelling place.

After several inspections, negotiations, and deliberations…After months of finding the right buyer for our condo, coming to sales agreements for both properties, making arrangements to pack-up, move-out, and determine a temporary living-plan during the required renovation process…Scott and I experienced the extraordinary.

On October 1, 2013, we closed the deal and became the official owners of a 3-story, 8-bedroom, 200-year old Massive project, adventure, and commitment that came unexpectedly, from the unappealing, as a surprise.

It took us one year to fix up the house. Enough to acquire a CEO. Enough to be live-in ready.

On December 2, 2014, Scott and I moved in to The House on High Street. We celebrated the most beautiful Christmas we’d ever had. It’s been an extraordinary experience ever since.

There’s not a day that goes by that I forget all that happened before bringing us here. I am constantly reminded of God’s extraordinary work in our lives, as blessings continue to come as a result of trusting in Him.

Is there a current situation that may seem unappealing to you? Ask God to reveal His plan to you and choose to be open to the extraordinary.

In closing, it is my hope that you, too, would put your hope in God. And, expect the extraordinary!

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Comments

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  • August 20

    Greetings, folks-

    My family lived in your house, late 50’s – early 60’s. If you be interested – there is much
    to share. Please advise. (Perhaps in a bit more private forum?)

    Alan

    PS – May I provide official verification? The precious, old outhouse (re-purposed as our clubhouse)
    was a multi-seat palace. At the time it was decorated with sketches of the Monahan Family.

  • December 8

    Hi Rachel

    I looked at this house just over two years ago with my realtor and a friend. I fell in love with it however I didn’t have the money to restore it to the level it deserved to be restored to. I still have the photos that I took of the house on my cell phone. To this day I do periodic drive bys to see the progress being made. I made one yesterday and saw the holiday decorating that you did. The house is alive once again. In chatting w an acquaintance last night who happens to live in Mullica Hill, he told me that your home was a BnB and I quickly found it online to check out the photos if any of the interior after shots were shown. I was amazed!!! I would love to see the interior if at all possible. Im so glad someone bought the house that had the insight and vision to make it grand once again. Do you have any after shots of the living room/dining room? Congratulations on a job well done!!! Im envious!

    Jeff

    • January 19

      Hi Jeff,
      Thanks for the accolades on the house! It was a privilege and a blessing, actually, to restore it the way we visioned. Yes, I’d be happy to add more more pics of the living room and dining room. Stay tuned, and thanks for visiting LEWoman!

  • March 25

    Every time i drive by this house on the way to the gym I always wonder what it looks like on the inside. Old houses and their history and stories have always intrigued me and now I can’t wait to follow along through your blog to see the transformation. So glad I came across your blog on Facebook tonight! 🙂

  • January 19

    What color is the stripe material that you are putting in your master bedroom. Does it have black in it?

  • January 15

    I know this house! I remember stopping right in front of it everyday on the bus as a little girl! It always seemed so magical to me, like scarlet O’Hara would come busting out of it at any minute! Haha Best of luck in the renovations it is sure to be a masterpiece when complete! God bless!

    • January 15

      Hi Mandy! So good to hear from you. What a story! Thank you for reading, and thanks for the encouragement. It’s interesting how our lives are often so unpredictable…yet exciting! Hopefully, you will come visit the house once we are moved in. xoxo

  • January 14
    • January 15

      Thanks for reading, Steph! Yes, I concur. The best things have come in His timing and in His way, for sure! xoxo