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The House that Built *Me*

The house that built Heather

This week, I did an interview with the folks at Century 21’s corporate office for their blog, which was a lot of fun. They had asked me about where my love of real estate came from, and the more I thought about it, I kept coming back to the house on Elizabeth Street in Salisbury. The house I grew up in.

It’s no surprise, really, that I ended up in real estate. My love of houses and architecture came from that house, a turn of the century home in the Newtown Historic District in Salisbury, Maryland. That house, and that neighborhood, shaped so much of who I am today. (The photo above is of my dad’s mom holding my sister by the front steps, and was probably taken around 1977.)

Some of the houses were more ornate architecturally than others, but most were what us kids called ‘mirror houses’…at least one other house had exactly the same floorplan. My best friend across the street and my sister’s best friend around the corner had matching houses, although we always thought it was odd that the front parlor opened onto a staircase in one area in one house and didn’t in the other. The adults thought it was odd too, and during one evening of drinking decided to open up the wall that should have had the opening…and found the original stair treads hidden in the wall, along  with the original carved wood trim that framed those risers at the top. (The whole wall then came down and the stairs and trim were restored.)

photo credit: Tiffany Lloyd Severtson

As a child, I loved the possibility that you might find something hidden under a floorboard, or in a crawl space. I thought it was amazing to dig up a 1902 penny in the backyard. The sense of history and craftsmanship within those homes was evident even to a little kid.

Flash forward to 2004, and I moved my growing family into a Queen Anne Victorian. Well, not exactly…a new construction home built to look like one, with a wraparound porch and turret window bedroom. It was the same year that I got my license to sell real estate in Virginia, and the fascination with craftsmanship and unique architecture hadn’t left me. (My first A in college was in Architecture 101.)  One of my favorite features of our home is an octagonal side window…not something you find on many non-custom homes built in Loudoun.

I’m sure that people end up working as Realtors for many different reasons, but for me, the reason I enjoy my job so much is that I know how deeply your heart is intertwined with your home. In the end, buying or selling a home is very much a business transaction, but it’s still a very personal decision and experience. If you haven’t ever listened to Miranda Lambert’s song “The House That Built Me”, take the time. It speaks from the heart about how much a house can shape a person. A snippet of the lyrics:

I know they say you can’t go home again
I just had to come back one last time
Ma’am I know you don’t know me from Adam
But these handprints on the front steps are mine…

…If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me.


Happy Friday,