Monday, April 18, 2016

The House My Grandma Bought

Once upon a time, just a few months ago, my grandmother went to an estate auction sale to buy a buggy. Come to think of it, I'm not altogether sure what an 80-year-old woman in 2016 needs a buggy for, but I didn't think to ask because that's not even the most interesting part of this story.

The most interesting part is that she accidentally bought a house, as well.


This is the kind of thing that happens on TV, to Seinfeld or someone like that - a misunderstanding with disastrous but funny consequences, the kind that makes you laugh even while you shake your head and say, "That would never happen in real life, though." But the thing about my grandma is that I have a whole bunch of stories about her that sound like they've been pulled from the pages of a sitcom writer's notebook. I like to think, sometimes, that I've inherited a little bit of her luck in that area.

Anyway: the house.


It was a beautiful wood-frame Foursquare farmhouse, with a footprint of about 1000 square feet, three storeys high, all full of old books and vintage chairs and peeling wallpaper in every imaginable pattern and colour. The auctioneer noted its beauty and started the bidding at $30,000.

And no one bid on it.

The auctioneer was puzzled at this; there had been a lot of interest expressed in the house prior to the auction. He lowered the starting price to $20,000 - and still, no one bid.

"Alright," he said, "Let's start the bidding at $500 and work our way up there."

And still, no one bid.

My grandma decided to get the ball rolling. She had no intention of buying a house, of course, but she thought, If I just start the bidding, this thing'll take off. 

So she bid $500. Instead of taking off, however, 'this thing' laid down and died right in front of her.

Sold!

My mom says she received a text message that day from Grandma that read, simply, "Oh! I just bought a house!"


So, anyway, my grandma also bought a buggy that day, and my mom headed up to Gravelbourg, where all of this was taking place, to help her get the thing home. That's when she saw the house and, in the second great unplanned and unexpected incident of the day, fell completely in love with it.


To make a long story a little shorter: my grandma gave the house to my mom ("What's an 80-year-old woman going to do with a fixer-upper like that?"). My parents, in turn, sold the farm, and are currently in the process of restoring that old house into their dream retirement prairie mansion in the quaint little village of Frontier, Saskatchewan. If you know them at all, you know that this whole thing is pretty much a dream-come-true for them.

Here's a blurry picture of the house on the back of a truck, slowly making its way, uh, home.


I went and checked the place out this weekend, and left feeling so excited to see what they do with it, but also so excited that I don't have to help (I live 4.5 hours away, so phew). It's a needy little house. My mom's favourite kind.

Some of their friends have asked if they wouldn't mind keeping them updated on the reno process, and my mom, in turn, asked me if I wouldn't mind posting pictures here every once in a while so she can just direct that traffic this way. So, every once in a while, I'll post updates on the #fivehundreddollarfoursquare. You're more than welcome to follow along.

26 comments:

  1. I love this. Every bit of it!

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    1. You should DO this someday. I'd love to see a farmhouse like this fixed up by you.

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  2. That's such a funny and sweet story! I'm glad it worked out so well for your parents (and your grandma too in the end).

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    1. Hahaha, isn't it? I like my strange family. ;)

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  3. oh man that's so friggin cool. I cant wait to see their progress!

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    1. Meet neither. I'm very excited.

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    2. meet neither? me neither.
      sigh.

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  4. Will they be restoring it or newly renovating it?

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    1. They're mostly going to be restoring it and keeping it as close to the original as possible - some minor renovating where needed! It's really so beautiful.

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  5. I'am the great grandaughter of the man who built and lived in that wonderful house. My father was born there. It was not a easy thing to sell the house because of so many memories. 80 years after my father was born my mother & Aunt found in the attic some film and they had it developed to the amazement of all they were pictures of my dad when he was about 2 and a half and my new born Aunt. I hope your family will have many happy memories. I will for sure and follow the progress of our old home. Thanks Deed Douglass Mann

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    1. I'm so glad you found my blog! Nice to "meet" you. :) My parents are thrilled with this house and are so excited to restore it and live in it. I cannot wait to share their progress with you. Thanks for commenting!

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    2. My mom saw your comment but can't figure out how to comment back to you, so she's texting me right now wondering if I would ask you if you knew any more history on the house - she was wondering if it was a catalogue home, and what your grandfather's name was?

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  6. I'am the great grandaughter of the man who built and lived in that wonderful house. My father was born there. It was not a easy thing to sell the house because of so many memories. 80 years after my father was born my mother & Aunt found in the attic some film and they had it developed to the amazement of all they were pictures of my dad when he was about 2 and a half and my new born Aunt. I hope your family will have many happy memories. I will for sure and follow the progress of our old home. Thanks Deed Douglass Mann

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  7. I might be mildly in love with that house.

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  8. This was my late Uncle Alberts house. Its beautiful and I'll def be following your posts on it, I'm excited to see what your mother has planned for it!

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    1. I love all the relatives coming out of the woodwork! It's amazing. Thanks for commenting!

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  9. Wow Suzie!! Thanks for this post. The story is so wild and beautiful! I hope your parents have many great years in that house!

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    1. Haha - well they are so far. I think one of their favourite hobbies is restoring old things, so... :)

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  10. No way!! $500?!?! And then your parents just sold their farm?!?! This is crazy fantastic! And I do totally think you get your unbelievable luck from your Grandma! The both of you should star in a reality TV show together! It would be a hit! And Craig wants to know which company moved the house. He used to work for a building moving company in Sk.

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    1. Oh man - I will ask dad! I have no idea off the top of my head. The moving process was kind of fascinating, I'll probably do a whole post about that.

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  11. Hello, earlier I had told you that this was my Great Grandfathers home that he had built, I have been following your updates and am so very pleased that your parents are doing the one thing that my Aunt Hazel wanted done, bringing it back to life. I might not have mentioned before but my mom and Aunt Hazel found undevelped film in the attic a few years ago and my Aunt brought it to a photographer to see if there were any pictures that would be printable and low and behold we have the most amazing pictues of my dad at two standing beside 6 Large clydsdales that were used by his Grandfather to farm and a few others of him and his babysister (Aunt Hazel) and his mom. They were in this home for well over 80 years with many years not heated or cooled so this was indeed a treasure for our family. Wondering if I would be able to bring my mom and Aunt to view the home some time? Thank You.
    Deed Mann

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    1. Hello! My mom would LOVE to have you over sometime! Her email address is christensenfamily@sasktel.net - she'd love to hear from you and even see some of your pictures if you wouldn't mind sharing. :)

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  12. This was a great story! I love the idea of Grandma going out to get a buggy and the next thing you know, she bought a house! It's not just any house, it's a home with lots of potential! The farmhouse frame from a picture standpoint looks good, and I can tell this is going to be a long project!

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