House Stewardship: To Honor & To Grow

1917 - Meier House 2

The “real” and original Mr. Blandings, author Eric Hodgins, built his dream house in Connecticut in 1939. The cost overruns in its construction, comically portrayed in the book and the film Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, eventually (and sadly) put a damper on Hodgins’ own dream. He was forced to sell the property in 1945. After writing his best-selling book about the experience and then selling the movie rights, he attempted to buy back the Dream House, but to no avail. Nearly 70 years later, his dream house still stands in Connecticut, having passed down through a series of other owners, including Anne Edwards and Stephen Citron, who talked about their life in the Blandings house back in 1992 in The New Your Times.

Our dream house, too, has passed through a number of owners in its 96 years of existence. Unlike poor Mr. Hodgins, the couple who built our house back in 1917 enjoyed over 40 years in their dream home. There were some transient owners who followed them before another couple took up its stewardship for another 30 years. And now, Mr. and Mr. Blandings have moved in.

010914-house

While we can only wonder how the Hodgins Dream House might have changed over the years, we do know to what extent our own Dream House has been altered from its original state. The most significant change occurred to the exterior of the house in the 1960s with the addition of a large garage and workshop, a new porch, and a breezeway connecting the two. Fortunately, these alterations were made sensitively, and genuinely add to the house in a practical way, rather than detract from it. Inside the house, the kitchen was updated (likely in the 1980s), as was the upstairs bath. Some doors were switched out; faux beams added to the living room ceiling; and woodwork painted over. But, as we look at it, a house is meant to evolve: to adapt to the changing needs of the people who live in it; to changing times, styles and tastes.

Now it’s our turn to make the house our own. While we do plan to bring back as many of its original elements as we can, we also recognize that there is much that has been added to (or subtracted from) the original house that we either can’t change, or don’t want to change. That said, we have plenty of work ahead of us in terms of the restoration projects we do plan to do, as well as redecorating and furnishing it in a way that also makes it our “own” space. And, of course, there will always be plenty of maintenance to stay on top of!

— M. Blandings

Images: Mr. and Mr. Blandings

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