The Red Well with Warnings of Ghosts and Witches

Somewhere in Scotland. What an interesting little place. Likely the tales of ghosts and witches were based on suspicion/ fear and just trying to keep people from getting hurt in there. Now it’s locked. What a sad, and yet sensible, ending.

There must have been (or still are) other places like this. Is it even a well? Seems an odd structure to use for water, wouldn’t it get stagnant without some sunlight and air flow?

Below is the Red Well, said to date from Roman times, also said to be haunted by an old lady ghost and to be aligned for sunrise sunbeams on the summer solstice. I lived in Whitehills for a short time as a child and remember the beehive shaped building being called ‘the witch’s hoosie’ and kids shutting each other in there for ‘fun’. It’s now locked.

Source: going coastal – Ailish Sinclair

How to Research the History of a House

housesoldEvery house has a story and a history to it. You can find out when your home was built, who lived there, and how they changed it. Once you begin peeling back the old wallpaper, taking up the old flooring or wondering why someone put a door in such an odd place… you might want to know more about the history of your house and the people who decorated, renovated and lived in it before you.

You can find this out for a house you are interested in buying or just interested in for any reason at all. You don’t have to live in a house or a property to be curious about it. I like to find old, abandoned or derelict places and find out more about them. The main thing is to start somewhere.

Where and How to Get Started

Take a look around the property and the house inside and outside yourself.

Conduct a search of the house and its yard. Don’t forget the garage, any kind of shed or outbuilding, the basement and attic if your house has any or all of these. A little knowledge of architecture would help you find more about the features of your home and their original use or importance.

This is a great way to introduce yourself to the neighbours.

Ask neighbours about the neighbourhood, how long they have lived in the area and what they know or can remember about the house you live in. You don’t have to feel you are being a snoop or a gossip if you are asking about the house itself.

Talk to people in real estate, especially your own agent if they are local to the area.

Real estate people should be willing and able to find background information about your house (especially if you are interested in putting in an offer to buy the property). Real estate agents will have access to property records from services like land surveys, assessments and such which you might not consider tracking down yourself.

Go to city or county records offices, court houses, the local library and historical societies.

Deeds, tax records, property abstracts, city directories, census records, insurance maps, and actual road maps will help you track down the past life of your house. Your city or county records office can help you begin. Some libraries will have a section or a whole reference room dedicated to local history. You might even find a photo or illustration of your house from it’s earliest days. Ask the librarian for assistance. (Check if they have searchable archives of the local newspapers too).

Find out if your property/ house is considered historically important.

Check with societies preserving local, historic architecture to see if your house is on the list or has been considered. Even if your house is not listed, ask them about your street, other houses on your street and which are the older houses compared to your own house. If your house is considered historically significant you will have to talk to the local government planning office before you do any renovations or changes to the structure. (If you are considering buying the property this is an issue you need to think about).

Articles About Researching House and Home History

Make Your Own Impact for Future History

Just for interest, try exploring your house and the yard with gadgets which let you see more than your own eyes are able (like a metal detector). If you are renovating a space in the house keep an eye out for anything interesting. People sometimes leave notes when they are renovating a house.

We the same when we wallpapered my old house. Each of the four kids and our parents signed the wall when we had all the old paper off. We added the date and a message to whoever finds that bare wall again in the history of that house.

More About Storybook Houses

Storybook Houses in Wikipedia.

A Storybook House refers to an architectural style popularized in the 1920s in England and America.

The storybook style is a nod toward Hollywood design technically called Provincial Revivalism and more commonly called Fairy Tale or Hansel and Gretel. A primary example can be found in the 1927 Montclair, Oakland firehouse, and in a more traditional English cottage-style in the 1930 Montclair branch library. Idora Park in north Oakland, California is a four square block storybook architecture development begun in 1927 on the grounds of the old amusement park.

The primary architects that worked in this style are: Harry Oliver, W.R. Yelland, W.W. Dixon and Carr Jones among many other local architects.
Oliver is noted for his Spadena House in Beverly Hills, and the Tam O’Shanter Inn in Los Feliz (Los Angeles).

Yelland is noted for his (Thornburg) Normandy Village and Tupper & Reed Music Store, both located in Berkeley, California. Yelland designed homes in Oakland, Piedmont, Berkeley, San Leandro, Hayward, Woodland, Modesto, Clarksburg, Sacramento, Kensington and San Francisco, California.

W.W. Dixon noted for his work with developer R.C. Hillen in creating the Dixon & Hillen catalog of homes. Dixon is noted for Stonehenge & Stoneleigh villages in Alameda as well as Picardy Drive in Oakland, California.

Carr Jones is noted for the (il Posinto Restaurant) post office in Lafayette, California. He designed and built one-of-a-kind homes in Oakland, Berkeley and Piedmont, California.

Resources:

Storybookers: A fan site for the storybook homes. Best source for information.

Storybook Homes – Homes designed in the storybook theme by Samuel and Tina Hackwell. See their group on Flickr: Storybook Homes and Gardens.

Salon: Ticky-Tacky Houses from ‘The Painter of Light’. – The links to the village sites are not working, at least not tonight.

Hendrick’s Architecture: Fun Architecture: The Storybook Style in Disneyland

Hendrick’s Architecture: Storybook Style: Hansel and Gretel Cottage

Flickr: Houses as in Fairytales International photos.
Flickr: Storybook Ranch Houses – Ranch homes from the postwar era – that are classified as Storybook Ranch houses. Ranches with Hansel & Gretel bric-a-brac.
Flickr: Storybook Suburban Architecture – The houses with a mid-century ranch structure, but adorned in quaintness and Olde Worlde pastiche.
Flickr: Whimsical Architecture
Flickr: Cottage in the Woods
Flickr: Arquitectura Fantastica Mundial
Flickr: Fantasy Vintage Home – Illustrations.

Screen captures from Fiddlers Green, a well done post about storybook houses.

From Storybookers:

COMMON FEATURES OF STORYBOOK ARCHITECTURE

Some of the terms used below are a bit technical; an illustrated glossary of terms related to storybook architecture will be added to this page in the near future.

CONSTRUCTION: Predominately stucco (often roughly troweled), frequently with half-timbering (often curved); use of rubble stone, crazed brick, and clinker brick are common; all-stone, all-brick, and all-wood construction are sometimes used. Turrets with conical roofs are a common feature, as are faux dovecotes.

WALLS: Often sloped or curving; almost never square or rectangular; wing walls are not uncommon.

ROOFLINES: Always curved in some way—swaybacked, sagged, concave, undulating or sharply pointed; never flat and seemingly never of the straight- and equal-sided triangular form; gables are usually jerkinhead or very sharply pointed; eaves are often rolled; use of catslides is common.

ROOFING MATERIALS: Most often wooden shingles, wooden shakes, or slate laid down in a seawave or other intentionally irregular pattern; though the original materials have frequently been replaced over time, the irregular pattern is sometimes imitated in the more modern material.

DOORS: Round-topped or batten (occasionally both), often with a peek-a-boo; doors are frequently set in an arched doorway lined with stone; when turret is present, the building’s front door typically opens into this.

WINDOWS: Sometimes wood-framed but often steel-framed (presumably to more closely resemble medieval windows); on older homes, the glass (unless replaced) is leaded or wavy; figural insets of stained glass are not uncommon.

CHIMNEYS: Chimneys are seldom regular in appearance; most feature a combination of stucco and seemingly haphazardly-placed stone or brick.

IRONWORK: Wrought iron door hinges, handles, knockers, and locksets are common, as are other wrought iron embellishments.

OTHER: Most storybook structures are fairly small, though many make use of deceptive perspective to trick the eye into perceiving them as being larger than they really are; larger storybooks are often constructed to appear as though built up gradually over time, one addition at a time. All (or nearly all) are based upon a fanciful interpretation of medieval European homes; a number of the true masterworks have been artificially and intentionally aged, lending them the appearance of structures built centuries in the past.

LOCATION: As befits their faux-rural heritage, many storybook homes are surrounded by trees and shrubbery; as most were constructed in the 1920s and 1930s, the greenery can conceal these structures from the casual observer.