Sunday, July 10, 2005

Home and Garden Tour

My fair city puts on its 'sunday best' once a year for the Home and garden tour. This year, the homes included some of the oldest in town, some restored, others remodeled, some in process. Living in an old house is a trial. Remodeling an old house is precisely like slamming your head against a brick wall. You suffer intensely while doing it, then feel much better when it's over. Today's tour was the perfect vehicle for nosy neighbors to comiserate and swap war stories.

The most intriguing by far was the old Kline Sanitarium, active as a clinic/spa from 1902-1935. It was converted into a hotel in 1939 and gradually evolved into the apartment building it is today. With its twin towers welcoming the visitor to our town as they cross the Mississippi River, it has fascinated me since I was a child, going past it on the way to grandmother's house. The inside did not disappoint. The suite of rooms we visited had high ceilings, carved woodwork and a beautiful inlaid floor. It had been the reception area, with the smaller rooms used as examination rooms. The current owner lives there, and it had a distinct "Adams Family" sense of decor, replete with skulls, erotic art and a gentle ambiance of decay. I was glad we toured it in the daylight.

The others were, basically, just old houses, some with a nice room or two, but really only more or less utilitarian. It made me feel a little better about my 'Frankenstein' of a house- the remodeling I've done over the years is finally making this shack look like a place were people comfortably, albeit not stylishly, lived. Which is exactly what it is.

By Professor Batty



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