We went to see a really cool, vintage building this week.
The experience reminded me of Star Trek, only with less spandex and more dust.
First of all, there was the much-hallowed Enterprise:
Such good omens to own a building project in such a vintage-geek-chic place.
Enterprise is a teeny, tiny village (more of a hamlet, really) about 40 kilometres from any neighbouring town. There’s no body of water nearby (a rarity in these parts) and although I’ve never seen one, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a tumbleweed roll down the main street. Enterprise is kind of in the middle of nowhere.
The middle of nowhere is nicely in our price range.
So, we went to have a Tuesday afternoon gander. To boldly go where no one has gone before, as they say.
Picture it: a partly cloudy end-of-summer day and a lovely drive in our little Fiat with the sweet sounds of Practical Man muttering under his breath, as he likes to do in these kinds of situations.
I think the muttering is so that his head won’t explode.
But, we were having a gander so Practical Man gandered along with me, good sport that he is. Plus, he loves a challenge. Why else would he have married me?
Sometimes I give inanimate objects personalities. Y’know: cars, vintage trailers, old buildings…those sorts of things. I named this building Betsy and now we are bonded forever in a way that only weird people would understand.
You’re weird, aren’t you? I hope so. Weird is such a great thing to be.
Anyway, we gandered at Betsy’s amazing 127 foot ceilings covered with original tin and beautiful display bay windows in the LARGE storefront.
I was picturing: cafe, piano/music studio, artists’ collective, vintage store (naturally), cupcake shop, speakeasy, vintage trailer design shop, children’s bookstore, or one of the many little businesses I’m always making up in my head (and designing logos and menus and marketing for…)
Yes, I am incorrigible, thank you very much.
It was hard to concentrate on practical things like what we would use the space for though, because I was very busy being completely in l-o-o-o-ve with the tin ceilings. Acres of them. Right from the front of the building, past the end of the storefront, through the kitchen and hallway and all the way back to the way-in-the-back.
I caught myself batting my eyelashes at them several times. I’m kind of fast and loose when it comes to tin ceilings. I just can’t seem to play hard-to-get.
Behind the storefront, Betsy had a kitchen (massive) with an amazing wide, wide, very unusually wide-for-this-vintage-building staircase. I pictured a mercantile or a hardware store back in the day.
Modestly grand. Perfect for me to sweep down with lots of tra-la-la, don’t you think?
Upstairs and in all directions, there were apartments. I have no sense of direction and we were going in back doors and sneaking through secret passageways that were normally locked so it is all a bit hazy to me. I believe there were two apartments above the store. Plus another one in the addition behind the store. Plus one on the street level beside the store.
So, around 34 investment-potential apartments. All with very groovy original baseboards and trim.
And, income potential.
In the middle of nowhere.
Practical Man is sweating a little.
Don’t let this benign picture fool you. This was the most civilized bit, all tarted up and innocent looking.
But, I want you to love my cool, vintage building so I am helping you by showing off its best features. It’s not the building’s fault that its owner for the past 27 years neglected it very badly and didn’t care for it the way it deserved.
All the bathrooms and kitchens were very moldy and falling down (albeit with fun, vintage tubs, sinks and toilets in pastel colours). Any carpeting was very, very, very, very (do you get the idea?) smelly with water damage from a formerly leaky roof and other things I don’t like to think about.
It reminded me of a few places I inhabited in my 20s. Places where I always kept my shoes on, even with my pajamas.
I found this fun, vintage, enamel sink in one of the apartments.
In my 20s, when I inhabited these kind of places, I could fixate on how much I loved that sink all day. It helped me ignore the fact that I was living in what my mother called “another fire trap”.
As well as the giant brick building, there was also a two-storey addition on the back (with really amazing workshop/summer kitchen on ground floor with what looked like some fixable “sinking” in one corner that seemed to have resulted from a leaky roof and inadequately supported floor joists. We went upstairs to a half-built apartment above and traipsed around all the rooms, looking out windows and ripping down all the moldy drywall in our heads.
Back on the ground, we turned a corner to the side of the addition we hadn’t yet viewed and realized that the whole side of the two-storey building we had just walked around in was held up by exactly zero foundation and approximately 1 medium-sized rock.
When I read the agent’s listing later, it turned out that the addition bit of the property has been condemned and was “not to be entered during viewings as it is derelict“.
Apparently we had boldly gone where no one (sane) had gone before.
So, feeling like we’d been born again, we moved on to the character-filled two-storey barn.
Lots of room to store someone’s present and future vintage vehicle collection AND someone else’s practical stuff. And, when we’re poverty stricken and living in the barn after renovating the building, there will be no vacuuming required because the barn has a dirt floor.
Score. I hate vacuuming.
Practical Man was still not a fan until at last, we reached the piece de resistance, the best place, hands-down on the property (at least according to him).
That would be the basement.
High, dry, strong, with great, thick rock walls and straight as an arrow. I got cheeky and looked up its skirt to the main floor. Even Betsy’s underwear are pretty:
We are not scaredy-cat property purchasers. Betsy is the kind of building that is par for the course for us.
That is, in the middle of nowhere and a hovel.
In fact, our current house, being in our price range, is just south of the middle of nowhere and was a hovel when we bought it. Practical Man is very, very handy.
He’s the Scotty to our Enterprise.
But, let me be clear: we are not buying this Miss Havisham of a building.
Even though I love Betsy and I want to save her from further ruin, she’s way too big.
Also, she scares the living bejeebees out of me.
So, that’s the end of my Star Trek tale.
Beam me up, Scotty.