OK, so here it is…. My St. Augustine Dream House in all of its boarded up, broken down, pink glory.
It came to me the way the biggest, most important things in life do, quickly and unexpectedly. I wasn’t looking for it, didn’t need it and certainly wasn’t in a position to buy it. But once I went inside, everything else became a blur and I knew it was meant to be. After all, a traveler needs roots, good solid strong ones.
One morning a few months ago, I was out running in my crazy little town and there it was, big white auction signs posted all over. I’d been past it many times before and never even gave it a second glance.
I stopped for just a moment, long enough to imagine what it must have looked like over a hundred years ago, back when it was beautiful, when it was first built for Dr. Stuart Estes, a physician and captain in the army. I imagined Dr. Estes and his wife sitting on the porch chatting and waiting for his brother and sister in law, who lived across the street, to join them.
I crossed through the rickety gate and into the backyard, stepping over fallen limbs, crunching glass beneath my feet. I imagined my family there. I saw my daughter and her friends chasing each other through the yard, playing a serious game of tag, I saw friends and extended family sitting beneath strung lights, wine glasses clinking, music playing. I knew right then I had to make this house my own.
Lucky for me, husband trusted me enough to buy this without him. He said after listening to me rave about this place and never knowing me to want something quite this bad, he was onboard even without stepping foot inside.
The online auction process was scary, really scary. None of my phone calls were ever returned. I don’t think any of the dozen different people we dealt with spoke a bit of English. The call center was in India and every bit of paperwork came via email with broken English sentences and strange stipulations that had my realtor on edge. The more obstacles that came my way, the more determined I became to make this house mine. I broke the cardinal rule in real estate- I became head over heels emotionally attached to this place. I went so far as to visit Dr. Estes grave site, only a block away. I spent weeks researching and obsessing over him and secretly vowing to bring his house back to life and fill it with love given the opportunity.
When husband came back to town and saw it for the first time, his look was priceless and it was pretty obvious he didn’t share my vision right away. It took him a little longer to get there, but he’s definitely warmed up.
Until last week, when Fedex delivered the title, we joked that we probably didn’t even own the house, that instead we’d fallen into some crazy international scam. But it is ours, really ours and I can’t wait to get the restoration started. My travels just might have to take a backseat for a little while.
Doesn’t this look like a fun project? We’re going to take our time with the details, make it a beautiful place to come home to.
My husband and I lived in St. Augustine for about 5 years, and I was raised in Palatka. I know exactly where that house is and am soooooo jealous!! Have fun restoring that beauty. We have a friend who is a wonderful guy and a great handyman, if you would like his info let me know. We still have a beach house down on 15th street. Next time we are in town I’ll drive by and spy on your progress. Good luck, and have a case of wine always readily accessible. You’ll never know when you’ll need to celebrate or drown your sorrows with a remodel.
Fabulous adventure and home ahead. My favorite part of town!
i live in St. Augustine and sometimes drive my car and park just to walk around this neighborhood. I’m jealous. Keep posting your progress and I’ll see it on my walk
What a great house. You can see it will and does make a wonderful home for you and your family. I hope to come and visit and see the end result of a fabulous home project, one to be very proud of.