Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday Memories

Guests always want to know why we came to Narragansett, RI after living in Houston for so many years. Eventually we will get around to that question in Friday FAQs. Their other questions revolve around the building: why this building, was it a B&B, what kind of changes have you made, how large is the mortgage, how much do you pay in utilities, where do you live?

A few of those questions are just a little too much but it is time to share the building's evolution. Welcome to Monday Memories.

We saw an ad for this place a few days before we were to evaluate a property in New London, CT. We had plans to leave CT, have lunch in Narragansett at Champlin's and then vacation in New Hampshire in the late Fall. It seemed natural to stop in to see the building since we were going to be in the neighborhood.

And what a building it was. It was being used as a $50 a week boarding house. Cars and trucks parked on the lawns at random. Scraggly little hedge by the sidewalk (which disappeared before closing.) Broken front door. Peeling paint, broken porch banisters, and ripped screens. And those were the good parts.

Well, in for a dime, in for a dollar, time to look inside. The broken door opened into a filthy little hall and an empty front room. Looking up the stairs you were immediately impressed by the lack of a ceiling at the first floor landing. At least there was a fan with a light up there. It was the only hall lighting other than the emergency exit signs.

The first floor had one boarding room and a two bedroom apartment. The apartment tenant had cats, rabbits, and ferrets which gave the unit a unique aroma. The second apartment (also 2 bedrooms) was an addition at the back of the building.

You are lucky a computer doesn't have a scratch and sniff option as the atmosphere in the rest of the house was exceptionally aromatic. In addition to the expected trash, mildew, and dirty clothing was the piquant blend of recreational inhalants.

The second floor had four boarding rooms and one "working" bath. The second bath had big "do not use" signs on it but clearly the tenants were choosing to be illiterate. One of the rooms had a dinky half bath in exceptionally good condition if you didn't mind your knees hitting the wall when you used the commode.

The third floor featured three boarding rooms, one "sort of working" bath, and the "fire escape room" that was full of trash and weight lifting stuff. The fire escape door consisted of a piece of plywood on broken hinges.

The basements were delightful. Beyond the trash and mildew you could see the original granite boulders that formed the foundation of the original buildings. Amazingly ineffectual plumbing repairs dripped like the seepage in Mamouth Cave. The "finished basement" beneath the second apartment had flooded more than once because of a faulty sump pump. No one had bothered to remove the ruined walls or furniture.

If you wanted a museum that featured the history of plumbing and electricity this was the place to buy. If you wanted an early 20th century coal boiler that had been converted to oil this place had two. If you wanted original antique windows (although some panes were actually Plexiglas) your search was over.

We walked away thinking, "what a great location but no way we would buy this dump."

(to be continued......)