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A Visit to Tin Can Trading Post

A Visit to Tin Can Trading Post published on 1 Comment on A Visit to Tin Can Trading Post


I met Sal a few years ago as a fellow Brooklyn Flea vendor. We stayed in touch via the Interwebs and I kept meaning to visit his shop in Callicoon, NY. Sal is now in the process of moving Tin Can Trading Post to a multi-dealer store up the road. What finally got me up there to see the store was his massive moving sale.




Because I was focused on house materials, I only made out with three lights (four if you count the pair of sconces as two). But oh, how I wished I was there shopping for myself! Scary dolls and clown paintings, old wicker subway seats, a dessert cart from Grossingers. Grossingers!! It would make a fabulous kitchen island.


Sal closed up his shop for a bit to give us a tour of his home that’s on the market for $189k in nearby Cochecton. What a treat for an old home lover! The restoration reveals layers of history. Original wallpaper was cleaned with wonder bread. Did you know about that technique? I did not. The plaster in some areas was left unpainted. You know how much people pay to faux this look? Here, it’s the real deal.

Worth the trip up to Sullivan County. Check out the shop. Buy the house. Turn it into a B&B so I can stay there in the future.




Incredible Brownstone: $675k

Incredible Brownstone: $675k published on 1 Comment on Incredible Brownstone: $675k

Head’s up! Anyone looking for an inexpensive (relatively speaking) brownstone in an up and coming area of Brooklyn? Before I tell you about the house that’s available, check out Reno Dakota’s (yes, like the song) full Victorian restoration (above). Yes, someone actually lives like that.

Envious? Me too. But what does that ever solve? Do something about it! The house right next door is for sale for a mere $675k, listed with Urban View and hopefully still on the market. It’s got every bit the detail that Reno and Kei’s house has.

My husband said “Let’s sell our house and move there.” I’m tempted but I like my part of southwest Bed Stuy, plus I can’t keep moving every few years. The part of Bed Stuy this home is located in is “Stuyvesant Heights East” near Ocean Hill. It’s clean, quiet and has lovely tree lined streets, but it’s closer to the Bushwick border than Clinton Hill…not that there’s anything wrong with that. The price reflects the eastern location. Homes in the western part of Bed Stuy have been hitting the million mark, so a gorgeous house like this seems like a steal. Plus, it’s getting tougher to find a place with so much detail. Seems like the flippers have gotten to many of them first and ripped out all the beauty.

Personally, if I was in the market for a house in Bed Stuy, I would check this one out ASAP!

Old House Museums in the Boroughs

Old House Museums in the Boroughs published on 3 Comments on Old House Museums in the Boroughs

Looking for something to do now that the weather is willing to cooperate? Hey kids, here’s an idea that’s fun and productive! Visit an old house museum. Get your inspiration from historic homes on a Saturday and start ripping into your house on the Sunday. (Some of these places are only open on weekdays, so you’ll have to call in sick.)

In Manhattan. FYI, did you know you can take a tour of Gracie Mansion? I never even considered that. Shipping merchant Archibald Gracie built this “country home” in 1799. It went through a few incarnations, including the Museum of the City of New York, until 1942. Fiorello La Guardia was the first mayor to move into Gracie Mansion.

Also, check out Manhattan’s only remaining lighthouse!

In Brooklyn. The Lefferts House has been right under my nose all these years and yet I’ve never been inside. This is one of the few remaining farmhouses in Brooklyn. The period rooms reflect daily life in the 1820’s and what finer backyard than Prospect Park?

In Queens. King Manor Museum was home to Rufus King, one of the first senators from New York. The house opened as a museum in 1900 and today, programs focus on King’s role in the antislavery movement.

In The Bronx. The Edgar Allan Poe Cottage is currently closed for restoration, but I’m including it here anyway because Poe is too cool to pass up. Poe spent the later years of his life in the 1812 cottage. He wrote such poems here as “Annabel Lee” and his wife Virginia actually died in the cottage.

In Staten Island. The Alice Austen House Museum is a Victorian Gothic cottage overlooking the water near on Verrazano Narrows. Austen was one of the first female photographers in America. The museum features Austen’s images as well as those of contemporary photographers. Plus, it’s a great old house.

Goodbye, Dream Home

Goodbye, Dream Home published on 2 Comments on Goodbye, Dream Home


In a few hours we’ll be closing on the sale of our Beacon house. Don’t get me wrong, I’m elated that I’ll have one less headache. You know the saying “The more you own, the more it owns you”. We’ll take weekends off instead of working on the house and we’ll buy toys for ourselves because we won’t be paying two mortgages. It’s all good!

I can’t help but feel a bit melancholic though. This was our dream house and it took us a long while to arrive at a place where we were able to afford our perfect house. We thought we would stay forever. We stayed for six years.

So, goodbye huge backyard. Goodbye spectacular antique woodwork. And stained glass. And awesome wrap around porch. So long, pocket doors. Turret.

It’s not you that we’re leaving, House. Don’t feel bad. As of today, you’ll get a fresh blast of love from someone new. If we could transplant you to Brooklyn, we would. But alas, it isn’t to be. We needed to be back in the city at this time.

We are fortunate enough to be living in another architectural dream of ours: The Brownstone.

But between you and I, House, Queen Anne Victorian trumps narrow brownstone living any day of the week.

I’ll miss you! 🙁

PS: I’m keeping the logo.

This House is Empty Now

This House is Empty Now published on 5 Comments on This House is Empty Now


We rented a truck and some guys last Friday to move the rest of our belongings from Beacon to Brooklyn. Anything left in the house was sold off in our moving sale on Saturday. Apart from a few leftover items that will be donated or dumped, the house is sitting empty, waiting for the new owners to come and make it a home again.

The sale was called for 10am on Saturday. We woke up early to get our personal belongings out of the way. As I sat on the toilet at 9am, the bell rang. And that was it. The early birds had arrived.


The first moving sale we had prior to putting the house on the market was in the driveway. This time, we had things from the basement all the way up to the attic and out to the garage, so we let people wander around.

My husband asked afterward if I felt violated having people rip through our stuff like that. Had we been given that extra hour to get a few more tote boxes out of the house, it would have been fine. But I had forgotten about some boxes in the attic. When I went upstairs in the afternoon, I found Alpine’s garbage scattered about the floor. I felt protective of her. There were a number of antique bottles that we took back from people. That’s a memory that stays together. Not for sale.


Then I saw we had left a box of old tax files up there. Hopefully, we weren’t visited by an ID thief because they could have gotten our social security numbers and birth dates quite easily. Yeah, that was a big no no. More important than any other expensive possession I grabbed out of the house.


The thing about these sales is people don’t respect your stuff. They don’t carefully go through boxes and closets. They scatter things about. I can’t imagine what it’s like to run an estate sale if you’re a child of an elderly or deceased parent, when it’s a lifetime of memories up for grabs.

I’m not saying I’m not the first one through the door at an estate sale! I love going through people’s old photos and keepsakes. It’s a way of honoring their lives.

Anyway, I don’t know what I’m going on about. We were in the house for 6 years. We were just getting rid of some old junk. I’m just getting sentimental about the house now that the transfer of property is becoming a reality.


My Beacon Victorian: Open House Sunday!

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The realtor decided to do a last minute open house, scheduled for this Sunday, August 8th. Weird that July was dead but August is picking up as far as showings and interest. Fingers crossed! Eight is my lucky number!

Go look at it. Spread the word. Each week this home sits on the market, one of my cats will go without food. So, save the kittens and buy this lovely Beacon house!!

1189 North Avenue in Beacon (that’s route 9-D south)


Kelly will be hosting the open house. Her cell is 845-401-6906

Lefferts Manor House Tour on Sunday!

Lefferts Manor House Tour on Sunday! published on No Comments on Lefferts Manor House Tour on Sunday!


When people think of the antique housing stock Brooklyn has to offer, they usually think of the brownstones. Or the Victorians in Ditmas. But Lefferts Manor historic district in Prospect Lefferts Gardens is all that and more. It has been described by NYC Landmarks Preservation as one of the finest “enclaves of late 19th- and early 20th-century housing in New York City”.

Tucked away right in the heart of Brooklyn, it’s what us old timers used to refer to as Flatbush, along with a gazillion other neighborhoods. The housing stock consists mainly of single family homes that were never used as rooming houses because of a covenant.

The 2010 house tour, sponsored by The Lefforts Manor Association is this Sunday, May 23rd from noon to 5pm. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door.

There are nine homes on the tour ranging in various architectural style and interior design. It’s an excellent way to steal ideas for your own home projects! If that’s not enough for you, there will be music, refreshments and wine.

Covet Thy Turret

Covet Thy Turret published on 7 Comments on Covet Thy Turret


So, the broker finally came over to look at our Beacon house and tell us how much we stand to lose in this God awful market. Looks like we’ll list it at $399k even though we paid $385k and put (still putting) a shitload of work into it. What are ya gonna do? We’re motivated.

Everyone thinks their house is special and worth more than the realtor tells them. But we KNOW our house is special because it has a turret! That didn’t impress the broker all that much. He said the home has some nice period details, but the turret isn’t a major selling point.

Well, excuse me, but I beg to differ. Why? Because there’s an old home sucker born every minute. Take us, for instance. We looked at several houses before seeing this one. When we pulled into the driveway, my eyes teared up because it had a turret (We didn’t see any pictures beforehand as it wasn’t listed yet). We knew we were going to buy the house before we went inside. We toured around in a matter of minutes so we could quickly put in an offer. Did I mention we had been looking for months? I think six months, to be exact.

We overpaid. It didn’t appraise out. But we love our house. We think there are other folks out there who are jonesing for turrets just like we were.

$399k is not what we wanted, but it’s a fair price for the house. I’m really hoping buyers won’t try to get us down to much or I might cry again.

Old House Web

Old House Web published on 1 Comment on Old House Web


Hey, dy’all know about Old House Web? It’s a mega website that has just about any information you need to find on older homes.

Although some of it is paid advertising (no problem with that-they have to make money), there are blog posts and diy tips that are pretty handy.

My favorite section of the site is the forum. It looks like lots of people use it, which always makes for a good forum. There are pre and post 1900 house categories with topics ranging from wallpaper to countertops to foundations.

Such a shame I actually have to do physical work on my house today or I’d be on Old House Web all day dreaming up some crazy new restoration scheme.

Victorian Speaking Tube: Deja Vu

Victorian Speaking Tube: Deja Vu published on 50 Comments on Victorian Speaking Tube: Deja Vu


The following is a post from April which I’m bumping up to the front page. Previously, I had just cut and pasted a reader’s question. Now that there are answers (see comments), I must get the word out. Apparently, there are some lost souls wandering the earth in search of Victorian speaking tube parts. They won’t rest until they get their hands on them.

A reader sent the following email. I haven’t got a clue. Anyone?

“My wife and I have a Victorian house that was built in 1895 and for the past two years we’ve been in the process of rehabbing it. During the course of demo in the kitchen we found the remnants of the old speaking tube system that ran from the kitchen up to the 2nd floor hall. The tubes were intact but the mouthpiece openings had been patched over and the mouthpieces were nowhere to be found.

I have looked far and wide trying to locate some replacement mouthpieces and have come up empty-handed. We were wondering if you know of any companies and/or salvage yards that might possess parts for our system? Your help would be greatly appreciated.

I’ve included a pic of what I believe was originally installed in my house. The mouth piece has no electric parts. It operates by means of using the thumb to rotate the lever (in order to move the disc out of the way) and then blowing into the tube. The other end also has a disc that acts as a whistle to alert the person on the other end that someone wishes to speak on the “intercom”. I think that the mouthpieces were made out of nickel-plated brass and/or porcelain.”

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