Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Abandoned But Not Forgotten

I drove through the Great Swamp Wildlife Preserve yesterday on my way home from paying my property taxes in person. I pulled over to the side of the road in front of this abandoned house. I knew the lady who lived there long ago.

Can you imagine using a washing machine like this? 

The old shed has collapsed on itself. That bottle on the ground is brown glass encased in a tin sleeve that says it once held anti-freeze.

You can see my reflection in the door. I didn't want to go on the porch to peek inside because it would be too depressing. I can still remember what the inside looked like when the elderly lady lived there.

I picked lots of her daffodils and they look so nice in the cottage. I will go back when the lilacs are in bloom and pick some of those too. My mother and I always enjoyed these rituals each spring.
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17 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's good for this fine old place to have a visiting admirer from time to time. Please do take us all back with you when the lilacs are in bloom.

The rain here has given the air that memorable moist, sweet fragrance. I think this will be the perfect day to transplant just a few small things once the rain has slowed a bit or stopped.

Happy Day, Rosemary.

Linda

Candice said...

I wonder what the plans are for that property.

Anonymous said...

When I was a child, I lived near a house much like this and in the Spring of the year, I would pick the ladies purple violets (my favorite flower) and bring them home. She had beautiful lilacs also and a huge hedge all around the property which made it warm & cozy in the Spring. In later years I thought of that time & that garden as my "Ghost Garden" as the owner was long gone.

Deb said...

I'm sure the old lady would be happy to know someone is enjoying her flowers. I love the old building. Deb

ladyhawthorne said...

That washing machine is crying out to be re-located and planted with lovely flowers in her memory. What a wonderful place it must have been.

sandy lawrence said...

I love old houses and their memories and see them as living things as long as someone is there - in this case, you - to remember them in better times. I guess that's why I love Gordon Foote's screen play "Trip to Bountiful", my all-time favorite movie. Highly recommend it if you've never seen it.
The daffodils in your home are a lovely tribute to the house and the woman who once lived there.

Content in a Cottage said...

Candice...There are no plans for the property. It is government owned and part of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Preserve now. All of the houses in this area are government owned but the people are allowed life rights but can't sell the properties. The lady lived there until her septic system failed and she wasn't allowed to repair it. She was very elderly at that time and happily went to a care facility. There were barns and farm buildings across the street that have disappeared completely. I think the heirs sold them for their old wood. There are many traces of old homesteads with no buildings along this stretch with "ghost" flower gardens. I often stop and pick the flowers. I've seen old asparagus beds too in the past. I'm sure anyone wanting that old washing machine could just take it. The property is posted with No Trespassing signs which I ignored. A car with a man and woman inside stopped me and asked me if I new the old owner and we chatted.
That's the story!!! xo

The Queen Vee said...

Rosemary, I really, really enjoyed this post and reading about the history this house and your history with it. Your photos are wonderful and enhance the telling of your story. I love all the photos but am drawn towards that door. I love that you go every year and bring home the blooms that can no longer be enjoyed by the previous owner and resident. Wonderful post and sweet memories of women in your life.

LANA said...

So sad but nice to know the flowers still survive. I definitely would have thrown that old washer into the back of my SUV.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking the wood, and windows, could be reclaimed. I'm sure lots of people would like the weathered wood. But, there's a cost involved, and it's always trickier than it seems to demolish. Still, at some point the whole thing will fall in on itself.

Content in a Cottage said...

Lana and Lady Hawthorne...
Come over and I'll help you load it since I don't want that old washer. Lana, I think you are closer since LH lives in Texas.
xo, Rosemary

Karen in VA (was CT) said...

What a stunning post. I love this story, and your "keeping watch".

When I see these houses, I always think about all the history that they witnessed. Couldn't you just imagine a million stories.

A true field of dreams. I hope to see more photos of some of those abandoned houses.

Karen in VA

JEANNE ILLENYE said...

Sooo beautiful and yet so sad, too. In Westwood, NJ there was an old abandoned house where there were thousands of daffodils...and it was all torn down sadly, and none of the daffodils saved. See if you can dig up some! Also, here in Michigan where we now live, I saw an old abandoned house where there was a luscious deep violet lilac alongside the driveway and I cringed when construction crews came in and cut it down...so see if you can get a cutting of her lilac, too! P.S. My maiden name is Beck from Montvale, NJ.

penelopebianchi said...

That is my very favorite name for a wildlife preserve!!

"The Great Swamp Wildlife Preserve"!


We live next to a 45 acre "wildlife preserve"

It doesn't have a name! It is specifically a "Monarch Butterfly preserve);

I would like to post a sign with a name! It is managed by the "Land Trust"!!

HELP??? Please??
I will buy the sign!!!

Penelope

penelopebianchi said...

You, Rosemary, are a completely constant DELIGHT!!

As are your dog and cat!

DIVINE BEYOND!

Delightful always involves "FUN"!!

In short supply these days......I adore your blog!!

Penelope

Content in a Cottage said...

Penelope...The Great Swamp is so named on 18th century maps of this area. In the 1950s the Port Authority had plans to turn it into a jetport. A local woman whose house is around the corner from mine set up a movement to stop it at her kitchen table. Wealthy supporters went door to door in the swamp buying up the land, person to person, to preserve it. And it worked!!! Here is the story:
http://usfwsnortheast.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/conserving-great-swamp-how-helen-fenske-helped-establish-a-refuge/

Content in a Cottage said...

Penelope...
Here is another story about how The Great Swamp was saved from becoming a jetport. It really is an amazing story:
http://www.njconservation.org/html/JetportPlan50YearsAgo.htm