DWELLOLOGY

My Small Living Room in THE ONE

The history of properties—homes intrigues me.  The unexplainable psychology of why people feel a kinship with a certain piece a real estate fascinates me, even more. At times, when I accompany a buyer or even a renter to view a property, for the first time, I become witness to their instant, vocal-certainty that, “This is the One,” as they open the unit’s door.

I, too, have had such a conviction when owning and renting a home.  I just knew—before viewing the rest of the dwelling, This-is-the-One.  Most recently, in 2009, my children asked me if we could move—to a larger apartment. Since our lease was about to end, I agreed, on the condition that they did all of the leg-work.  I gave them a list of must-haves: three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, washer/dryer within the unit, as well as our monthly budget.  I scheduled the appointments for them, and then, they went-a-hunting for our new, larger home.  The hunt lasted two hours before they called to inform me, “We’ve found ‘The One,’ Mom.” Umm, I thought, that’s interesting.

The One, happened to be the smallest of the apartments that I had scheduled for them to see, and it was on the top floor of a walk-up building (at the time we lived in an elevator-building).  As to why my teens would want to walk three flights-up to enter this possible new home, I had no idea.  I reminded them that they would have to carry the groceries up those three flights–every week, carry the trash down three flights of stairs–every day, and the apartment was basically the same size as the unit we were currently living in, not larger.  “We know.” Okay, I thought. So,  I went to see The One.

After I hiked-up three flights, and opened the front door, I understood their conviction—that inner, unexplainable pulling, telling me, “This-is-the-One.”  As to how my oversized furniture was going to fit into the small living room, I did not know; but I wanted the apartment, just as my teens, wanted it.   It just felt right.  And yet, it was a mystery, to me.

Then last summer, as I was exiting my building, I noticed a couple, standing in front of it, looking up and conversing amongst themselves, so I interrupted them, asking if they needed help with something.  The woman, who appeared to be in her sixties, informed me that she used to live in the building as a child.  Her father purchased it in the 1940’s.  They rented the first floor to tenants, resided on the second and third floor, and then a few years later, her aunt and uncle moved into the fourth floor unit.  I told them I lived on the fourth floor, and then, asked about her aunt and uncle.  To my astonishment, the woman informed me that her aunt was a once opera singer, who taught at Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and because her husband fell ill, they moved to be closer to her family.  Her aunt continued to teach music from the fourth floor apartment, for where I now lived.  Upon hearing this, I stood, stunned for a few seconds before I replied, “I used to be an opera singer, and I used to teach music—private violin and piano lessons to kids from my home—a long, long time ago—in Ohio.”  After we parted ways, I wondered if this was the reason for that unexplainable kinship I’d felt when entering my soon-to-be-home back in 2009.

Over the years, I’ve dwelled upon such unexplainable kinships to properties—per my own customers in real estate and those who are not my customers. I’m just intrigued by it all—all of those histories, linking strangers to the same home.  So much so, that in my free-time, away from real estate broker duties, I study deeds—recorded real estate documents of transfers, Google the owners, at times, read biographies, trying to find a link–owner to owner, of why such a place is The One for all of them.

I call this methodology—a kind of genealogy of homes, so to speak: Dwellology.

I dwell on dwellings.

My dream job, outside of Manhattan real estate broker, would be to research and write—professionally, unraveling these mysterious kinships, not just here in NYC, but around the world; and create a television show similar to, “Know Who You Are,”  with the more appropriate title, “Know Where You Dwell.” (This is all just a rambling day-dream right now, not necessarily a goal, dear reader.)

Do you really know about where you dwell?

If so, I’d love to hear about it…

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142 thoughts on “DWELLOLOGY

  1. Oh, man! What a treat to read about The One pictured in this entry!

    Selling my childhood home a few months ago was heartbreaking. It was, to me, the perfect place; in contrats, it was merely a good, low-cost investment. Every single discussion about the place and about allowing it to pass hands was excruciating, so I’m glad that’s a once-in-a-lifetime set of discussions.

    Apart from that, I’ve never really thought about whether a place was or wasn’t the right one; I’ve just jumped from one to the next and tried my best to be happy with what was there. Your entry (a) makes me wonder if I’ve been doing it all wrong all these years and (b) makes me so fascinated about “dwellology.” I, too, would love it if you had time to read and write more on this, because this entry was captivating!

  2. I love the way you empowered your kids with such a monumental task of finding the perfect place to live. And then to have the sentimental value added in makes for a wonderful life event for those teenagers.

  3. Deb,
    I’m sorry to hear about your childhood home (sounds like it would be a great topic for you to blog about!). I don’t think a home needs to be high-end for it to speak-to-you, in one way or another. I’ve helped many people, whose budgets have been rather low, who have had that instant-conviction of this-is the-One. Over the years I, too, have had to make an apartment “just work,” without that mysterious feeling of “just knowing,” here in the NYC Metro area–mainly, because of location (for my teens school) and the affordability factor. This was the very first time, since moving here, we’ve had that this-is-the-one feeling…(it was good to experience, again–after living in some pretty terrible and not so terrible places)

    Jan,
    Not too many people feel the same way as you (and me) about empowering teens with such a rather large responsibility…So, thank you for commenting!

  4. Fabulous topic, full of endless possibilities, coming back for more! Thank you so much!
    (I live in a 5th floor walk-up, on the 5th floor and I shall never be joining a gym . . . .)

      1. . . . and I thought I had moved on! You tapped a nerve with your wonderful post. I imagine that stories of NY real estate are never ending which is hardly surprising given the number of highly idiosyncratic individuals who populate the city.
        As for the book idea, hmmm . . . . .

  5. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! I have had this same thought many times, and my teenage daughter and I have talked about how fascinating it would be to do the research on homes, to enable them to tell their stories – in the truest sense of “if these walls could talk”. I just bought my first home (the one I bought on my own when I was married I somehow can’t count) and it was the second house I looked at in my hunt. It’s one of the oldest houses in town – 111 years old. Its most recent history has slowly been revealing itself – such as the fact that what I thought was a dog-door was actually a pot-bellied pig door – but I keep trying to find older tidbits about it. And I will. As for the sale of my childhood home, such as Deborah wrote about, I still find it almost too painful to write about. But buying the Bungalow, as it is now named, seems to have put my yearning for my childhood home at rest. Thank you for posting.

    1. Seasweetie:
      I’ve yet to buy a home, as a single parent, so I know what an amazing accomplishment this must be for you. Congrats to you & your daughter! I have to say, I love that your home has a door for a pot-belly pig! Sounds like a great place for George Clooney, too…if it was located in the Lake Cuomo area!

  6. What a wonderful post! I bought my more-than-100-year- old house 5 years ago, and I knew instantly it was THE ONE! This is a great look at how who we are impacts the space we inhabit

    And congrats on being freshly pressed!

    Kathy

  7. Hmmm. I’ve never really thought about it! I guess I’ve always considered it just an intuition that states “You should probably be here” and you just know… But I’m really interested in knowing more about this now. Really good story and great post. Congrats! 😀

  8. There is a black cat with a pink collar that roams around outside my apartment, and often hides in the bushes near my front door. I think this cat may have been a previous resident here. Possibly, it is a Hindu cat who is a reincarnated person. There are lots of old people living in these apartments. I feel this is at least a 60% probability.

  9. Great post and interesting study. Currently, I live in a standard more modern house in a typical midwestern subdivision. There are more impressions to be made than taken. When I was quite young, my family lived in a house that was built in the late 1920s. It had been a parsonage for years untill the church sold it off and the pastor at that time bought it. My parents were the next owners. I don’t know of any connections besides just liking the house.

  10. Great post! 2 years ago I walked into “the one”…after searching through what felt like a million houses, we ended up with a single brick home built in 1912. It has such charm. I think I was just on the porch when the feeling was brewing! About a year later, a woman walked by and stopped while I was sitting on the porch and asked if I had owned the house. I said yes, and she asked if there were still fruit trees out back. I replied, “no, did you live here”. She said that her Grandfather lived there, and she would visit when she was a little girl and garden with him. Interestingly enough, I had just gotten done gardening and sat on the porch to drink some iced tea. I would love to find more information on the history of my home! Dwellogy as you call it!

    Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  11. YES! When I read this last night, I thought, “I will not be remotely surprised if this is freshly pressed!” When comments started beeping their presence on my phone en route to work, I beamed and figured–correctly!–they probably had something to do with this rockin’ entry. Grats!

  12. Sadly as a rented I know very little. But then again as things are, is not bad. I look off my balcony with the Sydney CBD right at the end of my street and If I keep walking for a few kilometres without turning, I finish up at the Sydney Opera House. The view is breathtaking as we can see for 50 k’s and the sun sets over the blue mountains lighting the sky

  13. We built our home, so we didn’t have the “One” experience with a real estate agent. But there is definately something to your interest. My husband and I had some books of house plans in the bathroom (for looking at during that “only quiet time of the day”). When we got together after a couple of weeks, we had both chosen the same plan as our favorite. There is just something about how buildings speak to the brain that catches you.

  14. A fascinating post! Thanks for bringing “The One” to light, I often thought I was deranged for feeling like I would “know it” when I entered. Apparently there are others who feel for their dwellings. The loss of my childhood home was less traumatic since I moved far away from it at age 13 and returned three years later to find it small, cramped and uninspiring. When it later sold, there was no longer a feeling of “the One.”
    I am packing to move (while writing this) and am carefully leaving this “stop-gap home” behind. A refuge for 7 years, it now is ready to take on the next vulnerable woman with family. It served me well, as I think all previous owners feel about the house, that it was sturdy, supporting and a haven from the ravages of divorce.
    Congrats on FP. You have many new admirers. 🙂 all the best to you in your dwellology research.

  15. Interesting read. Even thought I do not recall ever having the feeling of “the one”, I too will like to study “dwellology”. It sounds fascinating.

  16. Just stumbled on your blog this AM, as a no longer living in NYC, new yorker, liked this post as well as your previous. Have to admit, did not have the histories of the several apartments I lived in while a SWF in NYC. Know the first house I lived in – in NJ – had been built by the owners sister, we were second tenants. The first place we had here in AZ was owned by an accountant who withdrew from his world and its changes as he and his wife got older. The owner before them, according to the paperwork, had bought the land for the house for “three head of cattle and $100 cash”.
    Our current home was built by a man who was a chemical engineer (and it does remind me of a molecule), who had build identical homes in Colorado and California. At least one of his kids still has the colorado home, don’t know what’s happend to the california one. This was the last place he lived though, as he and both his wives are buried in the local cemetary (2/10ths of a mile away). Of course, here in the west, home ages are different – although both the house in NJ and the first house here in AZ were built in 1969. Our current home was built in 1979 and makes it one of the older ones in our town (the oldest do go back about 100 years, but there are only 2 or 3 of them left).
    Re your Hudson River post – took the train from Rochester, NY once and did a long trip along the hudson. Have always loved that river having grown up in Yonkers. Its seen good times and bad and seems to be on the upward swing again.

    1. morgaineotm:There’s a lot to respond to here–your comment. You’re a serious Dweller!
      But, “three head of cattle and $100 cash,” got me excited! Very cool, indeed.

  17. We purchased our new home about a year ago after 9 months of looking. We were so picky about what we wanted, but the moment we walked into the house that was all wrong for us on paper, my husband and I both agreed that it was our house. It is such an unexplainable feeling. I just remember thinking, “I can see myself cooking in this kitchen and I can see my children playing in the yard.” It was also a major fixer-upper and we found an old black and white picture while doing some demo in the living room…it was of a little girl and her mother, I believe. I kept the picture and always wonder if they were the original owners or if they lived in the home…and if they would be upset by all the work we did! The house was built in the 1930’s and I love all the character.

    I would LOVE to find out information on the original owners.

    1. Anne, Your story is a great one—full of mystery—and you have a photo of people who might have lived in your home! Like I said before, I wish I didn’t need my day job, because I love to unravel such a mystery…who knows, maybe I’ll contact you one day to solve it!

  18. What a facinating story!! I love looking at houses and interiors. my tastes seem to be very eclectic- however there is one constant…light. I cannot stand small windows. Never have. I live in a small 1930s cottage- but what convinced me was the light- the sky light- the back wall which is all glass to a patio and a garden. We just ahd a neighborhood party and I was told before the 1930s the whole place was a tennis club! I have no connection to tennis…except my frustration on never hitting the ball- even on wii. lol.

  19. I didn’t have a chance to view our ‘ONE’ before my other half put down the deposit, but he knew that I would love it.
    It’s a converted Police building, so we have a step in our bathroom and office, and a large pillar in the office!
    I loved that it was so quirky and different. I loved that the kitchen and lounge was open plan.
    Although it was our ‘ONE’ but we are beginning to outgrow it. I cannot wait for that feeling again when we start looking.

  20. What a fun story! Living in New York, I often wonder about the various former tenants and uses my building has seen. And my parents’ home, in Virginia, got me interested in “dwellology” years ago: it was a store built in 1848, with some of the original shelving still in place, and can be seen in pictures dating back to the Civil War!

    1. Scarlett:

      Rental buildings, in general, are tough to solve. I read a lot of biographies and autobiographies and come across addresses in them—of where the author(s) or subject(s) have lived throughout their lives. Recently, I tracked down a rental building in the Village, where Martha Graham said she had lived—with her only reference being the number of floors in the walk-up building and “second building from the corner of East 9th.” After some research it turned out to be 105 East 9th Street…(I don’t think the current owner or anyone who lives in the building knows this!).

  21. Dear Bloggers and Non-Bloggers:

    I love all of your stories, and appreciate that you are sharing them with me, as well as everyone else. I WISH I was independently wealthy, so that I could dig deeper into a few of them—they sound VERY intriguing, to me, and so much more than my little rental-building story! My head is just spinning with desire to learn more about them…

    I look forward to reading all of your individual blogs over the next few days. As of this morning, I’ve taken a few breaks—from work to glance at a handful of them—and like what I’ve read, so far. It sure is a fun way to get to know people—via blogs. Many, many interesting people here on wordpress.com—that’s for sure!

    Thank you for reading, liking & posting comments, H

    PS. I’m honored to be Freshly Pressed (big, BIG thanks to wordpress), and at the same time, a small fear has crept into my NYC blogging-head…that I’m going experience blogger’s-block because of it!

  22. Hey, Heather — nice job! It’s Caitlin…

    Lovely post. There are places that just feel like a great fit and it’s hard to know why intellectually — because so much of it is instinctive or emotional. I’ve lived in my 60s red-brick building in the same 1 bdrm apartment since 1989….but the second I saw my top-floor Hudson River view I knew it would never (as it has not been) be impeded by any new development or buildings. To enjoy that view for decades has been lovely…

    I also think the layout of a home, no matter its size, and the quality and quantity of its light, are crucial.

  23. I love real estate and I want to see the inside of dozens of houses in my area that I drive by frequently. I live in a historic town, Ellicott City, MD. My house was built in 1905 and was just a complete pit when I bought it. Crumbling plaster, feral cats roaming the house and porches, soggy water-damaged floors. My friends and family thought I was insane, but I had to have it. Fourteen years and a whole lot of elbow grease later, it is still the only home I have ever owned. And it’s still “the one”.

  24. You should absolutely create that tv show! I’d watch it. It sounds interesting. You could start it as a blog, interviewing people and including pictures of them inside their home and items in their home, like The Selby http://www.theselby.com/. I love that book and it’s sort of a similar idea, but with a different take on it (they’re all artists or inspiring people with inspiring homes).

    I’m going to be looking for my first place (that I’ll own, not rent) this coming up year and I’m so excited about the search. I hope I find The One!

  25. The first home I bought had been owned by an Army vet who was always a member of the Philadelphia fire dept. My dad is also an army vet and currently a Lt. on the Philadelphia fire dept.

  26. Fabulous! Congrats on Freshly Pressed! I have had many a connection to dwellings and other buildings as well. They do absorb the energies don’t they? May just be an idea in your musings but that would maske a very interesting tv show…just saying…maybe a way to be “independently wealthy”? You never know… 😉
    ~Sam

  27. I encourage you to seek research grant funding to explore Dwellology further…. 😀

    Seriously though, homes tend to reflect their owner’s personality (or rather, how they like their surroundings to accommodate their personality) so I don’t think it’s particularly surprising that we have strong reactions to “The One”.

    When I walked into my current home, I knew instantly I’d be making an offer on the property. It was such a good fit for what I wanted a home to be – even if part of that desire wasn’t entirely conscious! I thought I’d only have it for around 5 years, but it’s way beyond that now and I’m still here! 🙂

  28. 0h my Goodness I feel for you. Thats how my life is with renting houses, we dont own our house either and pretty soon im leaving them, Leaving Russia was the hardest thing i had to do, but my newly adopted parets wanted me so bad. I miss the ladies who used to care for me, my real mother didnt even want to try and take caare of me, but now she has 5 other kids, And I think y couldnt I be your kid? I was your first boen, but it duznt matter . and it is sad how much people go thru Just to move, Great article I know my Reply is a lil off topic but I hear ya

  29. Such an interesting study subject especially to me. I study unseen energy and how it connects everything, and your fun quest to put together the energetic reasons behind why one place is “The One” fits perfectly into what I am doing and studying. This study is now on my list of things to work on when I am 100% working for myself and The Amber Light is the center for Universal energy applications in every day life. It is so amazing how the vibrations of everything are felt with in our Being and how our intuition recognizes them and tells our Human “Hey this is what we want or need”. Great post. I am subscribing to your blog, b/c I do not want to lose track of your research for a future book I am planning to go with my first. Great FP!!! : Have a nice week!

  30. love it! i currently live in a small 1-bedroom apartment…i could afford to buy a condo, but for some reason i’m attached to my current residence so i’m procrastinating on a search for anything else.

  31. We are in the process of renovating the ONE, and felt an instant kinship to the land, its alignment with our values (close to nature yet very walkable), and upon hearing more from the family who owned & built it, the tinkering and DIY post-war spirit of its owners.
    I’ve had the feeling before too in renting an apartment, and originally it comes from a sense of connection with the building, its architect, or locale, and later it continues from a connection with the roommates I’ve had.
    Great post. Thanks for the reminder– it’s easy for us to lose sight of the bigger connection amidst sawdust and wires.

  32. Great post! As an opera singer myself, I’d enjoy visiting your place to see if I felt an instant “kinship”/ “dwell-ship?” there, too. 🙂

    In 21 years of marriage my husband and I have moved 5 times and each time we’ve been out hunting for “The One” has become a major ordeal. We would often find a place that seemed “perfect” and fit all of our requirements, but it just didn’t feel right. Our perserverance [and our realtor’s patience] really paid off each time in the end.

    Our current home took 5 long months [and 2 realtors] to find. It was listed for sale by owner, and wasn’t on either of our realtor’s radar. I finally stumbled on it myself while driving around and around the neighborhood that I wanted to live in. The house did not fit my “wish list”. I wanted an upated rambler – it was an out-dated multi-level. I wanted a laundry on the main floor – it was in the basement. I wanted a small manageable yard – it was big and overgrown. Yet, as soon as we walked through the doors we felt peace. We had finally “come home”. When I met the owners at the final walk-through, they were a retired couple who had lived in the home 40 years and had raised a family of 7 children. There were tears in the woman’s eyes when they shut the door for the last time. When she handed me the keys, she kept holding onto my hand and said: “This house has seen it’s share of a lot of happiness and a lot of sadness, but through all the ups and downs it was always a house of love. We know that your family can be just as happy here as our family if you just keep it filled with love.”

    And we have.

    1. You wrote a beautiful mini-love letter here, Mormon Soprano, about your home. It moved me. It’s comforting to know that people are as sentimental as I am about such things…

  33. I absolutely loved this post! I do think that there are things that exist in this world that are just beyond our understanding, particularly when it comes to the existence of different energies. I think that if a like-minded person lived in your house before you did, you can pick up on it and get a feeling of familiarity and comfort. It’s a wonderful possibility, at least! Thanks for sharing!

  34. this was so interesting. I wish there were pictures of “The One”. Now I keep thinking that I don’t really know where I dwell. There’s so many endless possibilities of thought after reading this. thanks!!!

  35. Congrats on freshly pressed!
    We met someone who had lived in our house before… in a provincial park over three hours’ drive from our house. His father had built it, and he had grown up there. It was kind of surreal to find out that a complete stranger in the middle of the woods had lived in our house prior to us… an interesting connection to our houses past. He and his family later came by to visit and revisit old memories with the house, though I wasn’t there at the time.

  36. I just bought my first house last year, and I am still working on turning it into my OWN personal dwelling place. The size and number of rooms are perfect. LOVE the outdoor pool. However, a lot needs some work, including the kitchen and my own bedroom. I think that when it truly becomes MINE, I’ll know it. And ti will feel, just right…

  37. Just conversed with a friend on how the sale of our parents’ homes made us feel sad. I guess we all like roots and a sense of belonging.

    Enjoyed how you wove this together – from hunt to previous occupants’ story.

  38. I love your term “Dwellology” and have experienced a similar kinship where I currently live. When my husband and I bought our first home together, we only looked at one in person and I knew – this is our home. The house met all of our requirements and then I found out the previous family had lived here for 20 years and raised their 3 boys here. I could see our boys growing up in this house, in this neighborhood and I could see us being happy. I even included a photo of our boys and a letter with our bid on the house (we live in a hot real estate market where bidding wars occur). My only concern . . . after only 2 years here, I just found out that the previous owners got divorced after they moved out. Perhaps the key is never sell the house . . .

  39. Thanks for sharing your own personal interest in “dwellogy”. I thought I was the only one so facinated 🙂

    When I sold my last home, I included with it as much of the story of the house as we’d been able to piece together. The house was built in 1965 and we were only the 2nd owners, but the story was still interesting (for instance, the previous owners put in a new furnace and switched from oil to natural gas. It was his idea to change and she didn’t agree. When he did it agaisnt her wishes, she didn’t speak to him for 2 months. We, however, were grateful since he put in a top of the line, high efficiency furnace that probably cost him a pretty penny and made heating our 2600 sf home affordable).

    We are the 4th owners of our current home and we have enjoyed learning about this house’s history from our neighbors. Understanding the “why” behind the ways things are is facinating to me and gives me a deeper appreciatation for even the things that need updating.

    HL, hang on that dream of a tv show. Speaking your dreams aloud — and then sharing them with the world via print — has a power that cannot be denied. You may be surprised by where it takes you.

    1. Lesa Townsend:
      To me, you are the perfect owner/seller for gathering, and passing on the history of your home(s)! Outside of the real estate trade (it’s not all about the sale, even for me!), I feel that knowing the personal story of a home empowers pride-in-home-ownership, which has been lacking over the years, and then, creates a more beautiful layer—for each new owner to carry on …

  40. Very interesting! Building homes as a career, I have also watched many people have that experience when they walk into a home and just “know” it’s where they are supposed to live! I think we are meant to have many of the life experiences that come our way. Where we live isn’t just a coincidence.

  41. I have not been able to “choose” a home yet, sadly, but I know someone who loved the very first house she looked at. She was sensible and went on to look at other places, only to return and buy the first.

  42. What an incredible story, it sounds like something you could only read about in a book! What interested me even though, was your idea of how every home comes with a history, I’ve always dreamt of moving into a beautiful old house with a history of people and fascinating families that came with it. And I love the thought of walking into a house or flat and just knowing that it was perfect for you, as if it’s personality and yours are in synch.

  43. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! I personally have experienced the “This is The One” when searching for a home, and was very happy there after buying it. By contrast, I also experienced the opposite when approaching a house or property that sounded perfect on paper and looked wonderful, but I couldn’t leave fast enough after visiting it in person. It apparently had some very bad history in it’s “Dwellology”!

  44. I can certainly understand this article an found it a joy to read. My parents are currently looking to move out of my childhood home, even though I have moved out and got my own place I still feel some small link to that house, certain memories in certain rooms, certain alterations made as a result of us being there will either be considered useful and continued to be used, or discarded as a waste of time or space.

    I think that these feelings go beyond buildings to entire cities aswell. I can trace my family 300 years back and even then we only lived four miles down from the road from where I do now. Whilst to some this may seem odd, but there is a certain degree of comfort being able to tell people that a great relative or other was born and once lived under the newer housing/shopping developments sprouting up now.

    To know where you are going you need to know where you have been.

    1. Love this: “To know where you are going you need to know where you have been.”
      Very wise, and sounds-like a great topic for you to write about!!!

  45. Interesting post, and I definitely see your point. Don’t you wish you could get to know sellers and transcribe such a rich history of the home, so the new inhabitants know?

    It is also interesting how some people vow to never sell their homes and keep them in the family because they cannot imagine any strangers living in them after they are gone. My grandparents’ farmhouse is such a property that will stay with my father and uncles, but we wonder what will happen after that generation. It’s sad, but sometimes my family cannot stomach the thought of anyone else residing in a home that holds so much history for them.

    1. bmestdagh:
      “Don’t you wish you could get to know sellers and transcribe such a rich history of the home, so the new inhabitants know?” YES, yes, I do!! And sometimes I do, but it takes a lot of digging and scrubbing, and sometimes people—owners and buyers just don’t care…

  46. I LOVED this. My hair stood on end reading it and I got the chills. I believe 100% that places and things and people have lingering auras. I can’t wait to read more of your blog.

  47. This was such a great article! I am a total believer of places ‘holding’ memories and feelings. We shopped around a lot for our place, and some of the houses we went into just ‘felt’ wrong, even if they had the perfect facilities and so on – you can just tell!

    Congratulations for making it onto freshly pressed – very exciting! Looking forward to hearing more from you.

  48. I will find the one when I think I’m ready to build my own families. I live with my parents and we have moved two or third times, and never once I got that feeling.
    Well, thank you for sharing 🙂

  49. Lovely post! My mom and I walked into an amazing condo unit once and knew it was THE ONE, but unfortunately the price was too high. Even so, my mom and I have planned to own it in the near future. In the meantime, we’ll stay in this small yet adequate apartment. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

  50. When I first saw the place I bought, the first word out of my mouth was “Wow”.

    And before I saw the apartment, I happen to draw (in stick figure strokes) and write around the drawing of what I wanted. It was 3+ weeks later that I returned to my drawing and I was stunned – 90% of what I wrote and drew was there.

    So now I’m totally in love with my apartment, a converted convent opened in 1892. And our building’s neighbours are still a bunch of nuns. Perhaps a past life did draw me there…..

  51. I think many people will empathise with you about finding a place to live that is ‘the one’..some kind of magical link just grabs you and you instantly ‘know’.
    There is a book I enjoyed recently which you might like:
    ‘Home – the story of everyone who ever lived in our house’ by Julie Myerson. It was a really gripping read, as extraordinary as a novel. It is about her home in south London (UK) and not about your beloved NYC but I think it would resonate with you.
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

    1. I’m a voracious reader, as well (read your blog’s bio!), so I’m totally going to read this book! I appreciate the suggestion.

  52. Thanks so much for sharing this! I do real estate title work as a career and I LOVE it. When I can dig back into the past and find amazing bits of history, especially when it relates to me and/or my family, it reminds me of how much I thoroughly enjoy my career!

  53. Wonderful, I love dwellology! I had never thought about this before and we are just about to move to a new home that I find totally compelling and am unable to explain why. On the other hand, my partner knew that the house we are currently in was the One and I didn’t like it. We’ve had a beautiful three years here and it’s served us really well, even though I couldn’t see it at the beginning.

    I love that you’re researching and interested in this. There must be a book in it …

  54. i love your story! i dwell on dwelling too, for as long as i remember. i grew up in argentina in a very old house. when i came to america i never liked the homes my parents picked. when i finally got to move out i chose an apartment on a not so great neighborhood but it called to me. the lady who owned it was fabulous and took me in immediately! i am an artist and ballet dancer and have always been obsessed with the glamour years of hollywood. to my great surprise mrs. willetta had been a dancer for the follies during the 30’s and 40’s. i loved the tiny complex! it felt like i stepped back in time somewhere in hollywood!

  55. I have lived in several different locations and type of homes. They were all good. Each was chosen because it gave me that, “The One”, feeling . I love that feeling. Because of that feeling I like to move. My current home always wishes me luck on my travels and I always try to leave good memories there for it and its next dweller. You can’t dwell in one spot forever. A truly good home encompasses both time and space. Terrific post.

  56. My current dwelling is a little bungalow in a treehouse on the top of a mountain, on a tiny island in the Gulf of Thailand.
    I love the story of your home- gave me goosebumps! And don’t sell yourself short- “Know Where You Dwell” is a great idea. I would definitely watch something like that. Trademark that shit, so nobody steals it!!

  57. I find the history of the place we live interesting, too. I love my home that I live in now. We’ve been here for about 6 years. I moved in when my children were mere teenagers, also. It just “feels” like it was meant for us and it should always be our home. It had the things I like; great kitchen cabinets in white, a window above the kitchen sink, a big covered porch, trees in the yard, big front steps to put potted plants up and down on both ends… we just love it!

    But I have heard stories about this neighborhoods past–ghost stories, and I wonder about what has gone on here and who lived here before. It was built in 1925. I would like to do some research, but don’t know where to begin. It’s one of my “one-day-I -will” projects. Very interesting hobby, looking into a home’s history. Great post.

  58. This is just my opinion, but I believe that at least part of finding “the one” involves one’s upbringing and overall mindset. If someone was comfortable in a home that they grew up in, that will impact their choice. If a different person grew up in a home that they did not necessarily “favor”, they will most likely find something completely opposite. Then again, everybody is an individual and there is no definitive answer or explanation. Happy dwellings!

  59. I know exactly what you mean !!! Because of my husband’s job, we moved several times and we lived in different houses. I just knew when the house was the right one…… for no reason at all, my heart would tell me, this is it !!!!

  60. I love this post! I think you could really be onto something with “dwellology.” I mean, do we fall for the structure of a home, the location, the colors, the fireplace, or the residual energy of the past occupants? Really interesting…and your personal experience was unbelievable! It gave me chills!

  61. The One, happened to be the smallest of the apartments that I had scheduled for them to see, and it was on the top floor of a walk-up building (at the time we lived in an elevator-building). As to why my teens would want to walk three flights-up to enter this possible new home, I had no idea. I reminded them that they would have to carry the groceries up those three flights–every week, carry the trash down three flights of stairs–every day…

    Good way of workout everyday, especially good for Americans who’re attacked by fastfood everywhere! 😀

  62. Really sweet post! I had a similar feeling about my apartment, which is also a walk-up. I also sing opera, and I get really nervous about practicing in my apartment for fear of disturbing my neighbors. One day I walked out of my space only to realize that about 7 people around my age were gathered 2 floors up playing classical instruments, including a harpsichord!

  63. This was a fantastic read.
    I just left a place I was living at for two years, that was like my home, but didn’t belong to me. I needed a change. I moved into a basement apartment which is much smaller, and I live by myself now. Which I was nervous to do. I lay in bed sometimes wondering-how I waited so long to have this strong feeling of independance, and have something so little, but be proud of it and be able to call it my very own.
    I quite enjoyed this read!
    Cheers.
    SoHardToFindAName

  64. I’ve lived in several homes over the last two decades and I am a firm believer in that ‘This is the one’ feeling! For us, it’s the ‘only’ way to pick a house and as a result we’ve compromised on resale values and conveniences and all the other little stuff…but never on Happiness 😀 I must say, that inner house-radar has never let us down so far!

    Great post!

  65. The story of my house is that before us an antique dealer/junk collector lived in our our with his five children. They did some restorative work but did some bad work as well. All of the appliances had been taken out before this man died. Before him was his mother. She had added a bedroom on the first floor with the most hideous blue and brown shag carpet that still exists today. The other owner that I know about is the music teacher who gave lessons in her home. I think her spirit comes to visit us every now and again as she has hummed in my oldest son’s ear as he practiced his drumming.
    Great post and congrats on being freshly pressed.

  66. Through a series of issues moving in to my new apartment, (applied for one and was mistakenly approved for another) I ended up not just in the building where my mother used to live, but the very same apartment.What a small world this is.

  67. I loved this blog. It is so true about how a home speaks to you. We moved to California and when we were looking for homes we saw four of them when we got to the fifth one and walked in it was like it spoke to us. We lived in that home for 17 years and all of our children were all grown. It was the hardest thing for us to do leaving that house. Thanks for sharing!

  68. I lived in a rental home for 3 years that I was forced to leave when my income changed, and at the merest thought of it I still cry like a wailing toddler. “Daddy, I wanna go hoooooooome!” It’s the only real home I’ve experienced in my adult life and I lived there at a time when I most desperately needed some consistency and stability. A semblance of a normal life. It doesn’t make a whole lotta sense to the brain, for it was an outrageously overpriced house on a soppy lot in a mediocre city and it needed a total overhaul. I mean total. But when I first walked in, I knew it was The One and could picture so many happy activities there. I would often argue that there is a difference between “house” and “home,” so even though the house itself (the structure) was poor, the home (dwelling) was very much worthwhile. It was a Good Home. I became convinced it was my home (the rentership just a minor detail), rather fiercely defensive about it, and put way more equity of all kinds into it than my practical brain agreed to. Feeling the possibility of living at one address for an entire year a very real one, moreover finding myself there beyond a year, we planted trees (something symbolic of me deciding to commit to a location and put down real roots). Very shortly before I was forced to leave it, I had completed a 3D CAD re-design of it, exactly how I would re-build it when I became the official owner for $1 (hey, it could happen!). The changes to the layout were fairly minor; mostly it was using newer and stronger materials and bringing forth the style I believed the home’s identity truly was. So after many weeks of “dwelling” in that virtual house, I would have occasional moments of deja vu while walking through the actual house. Sometimes, if I closed my eyes and focued my imagination, I could convince myself strongly enough that when I opened my eyes I would be shocked that the place was still the old version. It felt like the home was very irritated it had not yet managed to slough off the old skin and reveal it’s fresher self. “C’mon already,” it seemed to say to me.

    For as many times as I’ve moved in life (I stopped counting around number 30 because it just got too hard), and for always being able to find “the” place and make it feel like home, I have every reason to have gotten over it by now and started anticipating the next “One.” I’ve always enjoyed the adventure and challenge of making Home. Yet, I can’t shake this. It’s a separation as grievous as a death in the family. I’ve had so few connections as deeply rooted in my heart as this, to people or places or pets or anything. I feel powerless to change it. I simply Must Go Home. I don’t even care what condition it’s in when I get back. But I must have it. It is the only place on Earth I can call my Happy Place; no matter how bad life is, when I go sit by the water everything feels serene and okay.

    You may find it interesting that I moved into it, worked on it, and made memories in it with a former boyfriend; he was never quite as attached to it as I was and when we broke up, he moved out and I stayed as long as I could. But while there together, he often mentioned sensing “bad juju.” I never did. At that time, I was a re-emerging Believer and he wasn’t saved yet; we suffered several attacks that got us fighting really bad. But as he watched me grow, he eventually became a Believer, too, and after that things were better. Not enough so to make him “The One,” sad to say, because I loved him dearly. But that same sense that told me the house was “The One” told me the man wasn’t “The One,” so the threesome of us had to end. When the guy left I thought the happy couple of me and the house would stick it out. Maybe there’s still a chance we can get back together. I still have the drawings, a love letter of sorts that I occasionally lose myself in as if to visit.

    Do you suppose that if I found God there–for real this time–and baptised myself there, maybe God will let me have it back some day? That maybe the man I’m told is “The One” could come join the Home and Me, and we could all live as a happy family? That waterfront has been the only place on Earth where getting married has made any sens to me. It would make a nice “Welcome Home” party.

  69. That’s really interesting… love the connection with your home’s former tenant. I’ve also often wondered what it is about a particular place that makes it speak to certain people… for me, it’s a lot of light, hardwood floors a bonus, nice and small and plenty of quiet, but places that meet that description don’t always thrill me. And places that I love usually aren’t the ones my friends love. I guess that’s a good thing, otherwise I’d never find a home… ;D

  70. Great post! Like you, I am in real estate (in Sonoma County) and fastinated by that “Click” moment when people just know. Houses do absorb energy and give off vibs even when the owners aren’t there. This was brought home to me very strongly one day a few years ago. I previewed a home in Petaluma that had a great feeling of welcome and comfort about it. I envisioned lots of family get togethers with 10 or more people sitting around the dining table. Later I made an appointment to bring my clients through to see it. The owners were home, but said it would not be a problem. When we walked in the scene was so similiar to what I imagined it felt like a Twight Zone moment!

  71. This is a thought-provoking post. I too love thinking about a home’s history and previous owners, imagining how they used and decorated the space. I got that “The One” moment myself when my ex-boyfriend showed me a photo of his new house, an English-cottage style home built in 1935. I blurted out, “Dave, you bought our house!!” I could literally SEE us living a happy life together in that house. But our relationship ended soon after that. When he decided to get remarried and move to a much grander place with his new wife, he asked if I would be interested in buying his place. Boy, would I ever!! So now I’m happy there with my new husband, and grateful to Dave for finding MY house and hanging onto it until I could afford to buy it. 🙂

    1. This is a GREAT story. Thank you for sharing it. An English-style cottage circa 1935–that sounds right up my alley, too!

  72. what a wonderful post! I love houses as well, and am constantly asking people if I can hear the story of their “place”. Just last week I thought I was going to buy a dresser on craigslist and was happily surpirsed that along with the dresser, I recieved a half hour tour and story of a really neat old house to which the dresser was origional. It was wonderful. Thanks for posting, and congrats on fresh press!

  73. I have never lived in “The One” but I am certainly searching for it! Glad to know the term Dwellology! It will help me to better explain that “I don’t know what I’m looking for, but will know it when I see it” to my friends and family!

  74. What a great post! I love houses as well, HGTV is pretty much the only channel I watch on TV 🙂 Your story about the woman who used to live in your building was so interesting, makes me wonder about the people who used to live in my house!

  75. i live with my aunt and son in a house built in the sixties. we are the second owners. the original owners kept the place meticulously. we had the original pea green appliances when we moved in: including, washer/dryer, refrigerator, oven, stove top, microwave and barbecue (hooked directly to the gas line). most of them have been replaced, all but the barbecue and the oven.. and i test her staying power every chance i get. (i love to bake). they made a few changes to the layout that have provided us with more than enough space to entertain an overtly energetic four-year-old. i was not part of the picking process. my aunt was buying, i was in need and i left the decision making up to her. she made sure there was enough room and that she had her fireplace. i don’t recall if i felt like “this is the one” when we got here. i know that it has grown on me and i love it.

  76. Interesting post! Wondering about the past lives of those who lived in my apts before me was one of my favorite things to ‘dwell’ on while living in NYC.
    I now live out in Long Island – on an unused college campus which is rented by my company. It used to be run by a military academy, before that inhabited by monks and started it’s life as the home of Frederick Bourne, President of Singer Sewing Machine Company from 1889 to 1905. It used to stretch 22 miles – all on the ocean.

  77. I love the connection opera singer etc…it makes me smile,apartments I am goingto be selling mine, I have lived in it for 25yrs , now is time for some travel, here`s to all the apartments I will live in even for a short while as I go from place to place….

  78. I think I allready have been told about this topic
    at work 1 day ago by a friend, but at that time
    it didn’t caugh my attention.
    Thanks 🙂

  79. I love your post, and I love the idea of dwellology. It’s fantastic that you’ve found The One, and it’s crazy that the history of the building is somehow a mirror of your life. Maybe it’s because I’ve never lived in a place that did that, but I’ve never felt a particular attachment to place; at least not through the buildings I live in.

    The first house that we lived in – the first that I was old enough to remember – was one that my parents had built especially to their specifications. I assume that in some way that was The One for them, because they must have drawn on some greater knowledge about their own idea of a perfect dwelling when they were drawing up the plans. Maybe, sometime down the road, I’ll find a house or apartment that draws up those memories and gives me the feelings you describe, but so far, I haven’t had them. I’ve moved many times since that first house – with my parents and into my own apartments – and while some places felt more comfortable than others, none of them resonated with me on any deeper level. It’s something that disappoints me a little bit, because after reading your post, it seems like it must be a great feeling to have.

  80. Wow. I love this story. Our last Manhattan apartment before we moved to Sao Paulo was in Peter Cooper Village and I felt a similar attraction to it. I always wondered about the apartment and about the building and complex overall, other than the published history. I still remember it fondly, while my husband has more of an affinity for our downtown places. It’s great when you can find a place that you are connected to.

  81. Loved the post. I am lucky enough to live in my childhood home, which was formerly a dairy farm established about 125 years ago. I lived there with my grandparents from the time I was in elementary school until college. Then my husband and I inherited the house and moved back in 5 years ago. The place has a great energy for me and my husband that goes even beyond the memories I have there. I knew it was “the one” in sixth grade when I spent the first night in the house.

    I’m an extremely sentimental person, and I don’t have children. I worry often what will happen to the property after we’re gone, and I often pray that whomever ends up making it their home will for some reason have that special feeling you describe. I’m glad I’m not the only person who feels that is so important.

  82. What a lovely story! Sometimes some articles are not worth the long read but this was great! I hope you end up doing that research.

  83. Hmm, interesting article. I must say I don’t think I’ve ever really give this much thought but I agree. I think that ideally we would all like to get that wow factor whenever we buy anything at all. Properties included.

  84. I loved your article and drew some very interesting and personal applications for my own life. Bless you in your further journey.
    “He who DWELLS in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
    Psalm 91:1

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