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At Home With Past Lives

February 22, 2017



About 800,000 new houses are built every year: but about 50,000,000 were built more than a generation ago, over the last few centuries: all these homes have had past lives within their walls.

The older a home, the greater the provenance, the more baggage comes along with living in it. For homes “style” is the least important aspect of your accommodation: for most living in older homes it’s the poignancy of living where others have previously had their lives: triumphs, tragedies and the mundane, prosaic acts of the day-to-day.

Cooking, eating, bathroom duties, sleeping all have ways of creating, them changing a house. Unless you have built your house for you – as I and my wife have – someone else is usually living right there with you. The kitchen may have a sink facing a wall, the tub may be tiny, the bed in your bedroom may have a perfect place – because someone else designed those things that way: and you are living with them.

In Studio with Duo was the Rev. Ellen Tillotson, a homeowner of an ancient house of great provenance in Guilford – who has spent over a decade living in a place of many previous lives – and she has endeavored to engage in many subtle and sensitive interventions to heal and adapt the home to her occupancy.

Joining us via phone was a remarkable group who are keenly aware of the past lives of those who built and lived in our heritage. William Hosley is a cultural curator of architecture in Connecticut, who has engaged in sweeping curatorial exercises of our built resources. Jay Bright is an architect who, among other devotions, has spent a lifetime engaging in the past lives of homes in deeply sensitive renovation and adaptation. Lastly Susan Odell is a preservationist and architect who lives in a home with her organ builder husband – in an antique dwelling that may just be haunted….

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