Western Massachusetts

Our New Old House

Hank and I had a list of wants when we decided to leave Taos for Western Mass. This week we completed an important one when we bought a home on the Buckland side of Shelburne Falls Village. That’s it above.

At the top of our list was a small bungalow. We also wanted to live in the country but be within walking distance of an active village, so we could step out for cup of coffee or a beer or a meal. We wanted to be closer to family living in Massachusetts and able to visit those who are not when we vacation.

Oh, yeah, the house had to be in our price range.

Here was my request: we buy the right house in the right location for the right price.

Bingo. It happened.


The two-story garage.

We bought a two-bedroom, two-bath home with a small garage. It’s located on a quiet street — except for church bells and train whistles — and with a great view of a mountainside.

I’ve written about how we drove all over Franklin County and some of Hampshire during that search for a permanent home. We kept coming back to Shelburne Falls, where Hank worked for six months helping our son, Zack, with the brewery he will be opening there.

What we found for sale were old rambling houses that weren’t well maintained or too expensive — or newer ones that weren’t well built.

After doing some research, we decided not to build. Previously we owned two homes we had built — Hank put his creative hand and hard work in both of them. Construction has gotten more costly since those two experiences.

It was Zack who told us about the bungalow. He heard from a co-worker who had thought of buying it but didn’t. In one of those serendipitous moments, Hank and I were walking by the house when the owner came out and told us it would be going on the market.

Then, our daughter Julia, who is a licensed real estate agent with Keller Williams, stepped in, contacting the agent in Shelburne Falls, who would be listing the property.

We had a short wait for the house to go on the market. The day it happened — another lucky experience — we had the first chance to get inside, and with Julia’s help, we submitted a bid that night that was accepted the next day. Yes, she’s our daughter, but I believe we wouldn’t have gotten the house if she hadn’t jumped on it right away for us. (Naturally, there was a great deal of interest when the house hit MLS.)

We had cash from selling our home in Taos, which also was going to speed up the sale. I will spare you the details. I’m just glad we had Julia to handle them.

We signed the paperwork Wednesday.

So what’s the house like? From the outside it looks like a charmer. It certainly is. We are big fans of the architecture of the arts and crafts movement. But it needs work such as a new kitchen, windows, deck, and next year, a new roof. The garage, which has studio space, needs some attention as well. Perhaps it will be Hank’s new shop.

We are considering other changes. The house was built in 1900. It’s gone through a lot of owners with mixed results. But it has great bones as they say.

As this old home’s new co-owner, Hank will put his design and woodworking talents into the place. Yeah, there’s a lot of work ahead, but we will hire out some it. I can assist with painting and other things.

But like everything else since we decided to make this move, the pieces will fall into place. Home sweet home.

ONE MORE THING: Here is a link for my books for sale on Amazon, including my most recent, The Sweet Spot, set in Western Mass. They’re not free, but they are for the taking. Check them out: https://www.amazon.com/Joan-Livingston/e/B01E1HKIDG