Civil War Era Historic Homes: The Reality
It is no surprise that there is an abundance of historic homes here in the Gettysburg, Adams county Pa, area. As a Realtor that specializes in these homes I get numerous inquiries from people from out of the area that are looking for a nice old farmhouse, or something from the Civil War era in the Gettysburg Borough. More often than not the buyers are coming in from out of town, and want to cram as many showings into one day as possible. I set up the showings and off we go, only to have the clients frustrated by the fourth home we view. They come ready for the joy, but are not prepared for the challenge.
Often times people fall in love with the concept of owning and living in a Civil War era home, but do not understand that doing so calls for some sacrificing. There are certain challenges that come with owning and living in Civil War era homes, especially if you are looking for something in the Gettysburg borough limits. During the 1800's, many of the affluent property owners of the area often purchased lots in town to build duplex's or single family homes specifically for rental income. The homes were not fancy, basic and different times called for different living requirements. In fact I own a Civil War Era duplex that has never been occupied by the owner of the property. Below I will discuss some of the things that buyers looking for a Civil War Era home should expect along the way.
Closet Space; during the 1800's families had pretty basic clothing needs. Most often there were two sets of clothes for each family member. One for everyday and work, and one for "go to meeting". The Civil War era housewife did not have a closet full of Jimmy Chew shoes. Clothes were set on hooks on the wall. Pretty simple. As time progressed closets were in demand so many people just retro fitted a closet into the room somewhere. More often than not they were small cramped, barely enough room closets. Unless ample renovation has been completed you are not going to find spacious walk in closets.
Stairways; I know some of you are thinking that Scarlett had a beautiful large staircase with which to make a grand entrance. The reality, this ain't Tara. Probably the thing I hear most often when showing Civil War era homesis when client is heading up the steps. "How small were these people"? is most often what comes out there mouths. The stairways in the vast majority of these homes are small and narrow, usually two steps to a landing and then on up. Which makes for tough maneuvering just going up and down, the real challenge is getting your gigantic 21st century furniture into the upstairs bedrooms. Think Ikea
Fireplaces; this is a big one. Many times people see a fireplace in the listing and are disappointed when they view the home and fireplace looks nice, but is inoperable. The reality for the majority of the Civil War Era historic homes in Gettysburg borough is that they don't work. There are a number reasons for this, first the age alone prevents the fireplace from being used safely, second the poor quality of "Gettysburg brick". The material used in bricks manufactured in the Gettysburg Adams County Paarea is of poor quality, the final product is porous and does not hold up well to the elements or fireplace conditions. Many times in the area you will see the bricks painted over, that was done to seal the bricks and help the brick hold up over time.
Electrical; Obviously electricity was not available during the 1800's. The invention and improvements of home electricity is apparent in the Civil War Era historic home. As innovations occurred they were "wired" into the home. Many Civil War Era historic homesstill have some old "knob & tube" wiring in the home. Most times that wiring needs to be dealt with as many homeowner policies do not allow it in the structure, connected or not. You will also notice that outlets will be inadvertently placed throughout the room. 4 outlets on one side of the room and 1 (in the floor no less) on the other side. Even after an upgrade to your service you will still have outlets willy nilly throughout the home.
These are just a few of the issues that a buyer of a Civil War Era historic home comes into contact with. I will continue this series explaining other issues that one can come across. Owning a Civil War Era historic home can be wonderful, but if you are prepared for some of the realities it will make it less of a challenge.
If you are interested in purchasing a Civil War Era historic home in the Gettysburg Adams County Pa area, please feel free to contact GettysburgGerry for assistance, his knowledge of historic homes is right on target.
Civil War Era Historic Homes: The Reality