Letter from the Editor – November, 2012
by Rebecca Falzano
During what was the unofficial start to fall, the day the air changed and the wind turned and the first leaves fell, I found myself on Portland’s East End, at the crest of Munjoy Hill, on a scouting trip.
I was there to see a house that architect Rob Whitten and R.P. Morrison Builders were just about finished renovating. Landscapers were hard at work on the terrace amid a heap of lilac bushes that had seen better days, painters on ladders were putting finishing touches on walls, an electrician had a last-minute question about a light.
The scene was not unusual (I see many houses every month), except for one thing: This was a house I had lived in.
The three-story house built in the 1870s was the first place I lived in Maine. I was living here when I got engaged (in the closet upstairs is where my now-husband hid the ring for months before proposing). In the attic, he started his business (I remember the day he bounded down the stairs to tell me he had quit his job). In the bedroom facing the water, I recovered from cancer while planning our wedding. And at the front door, he half-jokingly carried me over the threshold the morning after we got married. We were only renters, so we knew our time there was temporary, but the house saw three years’ worth of our biggest moments so far—good and bad.
The renovation took my breath away—the things that hadn’t changed almost even more than the things that had. The soul of the house was kept so beautifully intact, but with a thoughtful refresh in all the right places: drafty rooms without heat now benefited from efficient central systems, thin walls were better insulated, the kitchen reworked to relate to a reimagined landscape, the third floor opened up to take advantage of an incredible view. It was the right kind of considered, careful approach by a talented team and thoughtful homeowners—the kind we often cover in MH+D.
Before moving out last summer, we left a note in the eaves that is surely long gone by now. It said, among other things, “To whomever lives here next: we hope you love living here as much as we did.”
A love letter to a house that was never ours but, as long as we lived there, was always home.