Hello and thank you for being a DL contributor. We are changing the login scheme for contributors for simpler login and to better support using multiple devices. Please click here to update your account with a username and password.

Hello. Some features on this site require registration. Please click here to register for free.

Hello and thank you for registering. Please complete the process by verifying your email address. If you can't find the email you can resend it here.

Hello. Some features on this site require a subscription. Please click here to get full access and no ads for $1.99 or less per month.

Tasteful friends: a big 1890 house in quiet Keene, New Hampshire, 5900 sq ft, 10 bedrooms, 5 baths, and carriage house, $850,000

A big late Victorian frame house with original details, set on a fenced corner lot with 1.4 acres and a wonderful carriage house, on a street of similarly large and well-spaced houses of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

For once it's a Victorian house whose decor I like. The wallpaper (and grasscloth) is not exactly period, but it's well chosen for the spaces. I could live happily with it, eventually changing some I'm sure but keeping much of it. The pea soup green Chinoiserie paper in the dining room dining room. It's rather sparely furnished, too, which shows off the architecture and a few pieces of decent furniture mixed in some basic stuff meant to fill a 10-bedroom house. I like the spare New England bedrooms.

The main floor has an entry/stair hall, front parlor, dining room, living room, and an under the front stairs w/c. There is quarter-sawn oak, cherry, figured maple, and walnut that I can recognize in the ground floor woodwork, all well done. The kitchen is illustrated but not described: fairly a decent size in square footage it seems (21' x 12'), it suffers the problem of all Victorian kitchens: it's all doors and windows and corners with little usable wall space. What's there now in the tatty old little run of cabinetry and work surface is a point for starting over; but an adjacent large and original pantry takes the pressure off the kitchen with its loads of cabinetry and a nice sink. The kitchen will always be a bit awkward if you're slavish to the concept of the kitchen triangle and having a Property Brothers kitchen, but it could work with some innovation.

Second floor has a principal bedroom en suite, and five more bedrooms and two more bathrooms. The third floor has four more bedrooms under the eaves and one bathroom.

The carriage house is terrific with rooms panelled in varnished beaded board, with a great space (an original gym) under the high pitched roof, and fit for lots of uses, particularly as a studio for an artist, or musician maybe. Or put on a show with your theatre friends. The two-bedroom apartment is let down by a cheap kitchen but has some under-the-eaves charm.

Keene NH, population 23,000 is in the southwest part of the state, near Brattleboro VT, two hours to Boston, Providence, or Albany. Taxes are $25,000/year.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 36October 13, 2021 11:19 AM

Nice. Except for most of the wallpapers. Quite empty, would need a lot of plants. The nature around the house is even nicer. Does the old car comes with it?

by Anonymousreply 1October 11, 2021 11:56 AM

I'm not keen on living in Keene.

by Anonymousreply 2October 11, 2021 11:56 AM

Beautiful house. Love all the period details.

Wallpaper would have to go in most rooms, especially the downstairs rooms. Otherwise, I could easily move in.

by Anonymousreply 3October 11, 2021 12:01 PM

Snow from October to May.

by Anonymousreply 4October 11, 2021 12:10 PM

With the sparse furniture and shabby wallpaper, it’s very atmospheric. I like it. I like that it’s livable without being strenuously updated. Looks like it was a B&B.

by Anonymousreply 5October 11, 2021 12:36 PM

The lovely woodwork around the windows should be the focus and figured wallpaper conflicts with it. Wallpaper with a much tinier pattern would be OK but plain paint would probably be best.

I've never seen a fireplace in a foyer and this space is much too small for that. A big attention-grabbing feature directly in front of the entrance doors and so close to them makes the whole area look cramped. Smart idea to put a little bathroom in that awkward area beneath the stairs.

Beautiful house and setting.

by Anonymousreply 6October 11, 2021 12:45 PM

r4, I've been there in May, not much snow

by Anonymousreply 7October 11, 2021 12:55 PM

I counted at least 2 kitchens. Probably had been subdivided at some point---it's in a college town where this often happens. Many of those bedrooms were either servants quarters or simply attic. The wallpaper is ugly.

The snow comment probably comes from someone who has to rationalize living in some ugly sunbelt sprawlburg that's unliveable w/o air conditioning most of the year. They probably never go outside in summer if they can help it.

by Anonymousreply 8October 11, 2021 1:11 PM

Gorgeous old home, with the period details intact. I even like the wallpaper in the bedrooms. I love it.

by Anonymousreply 9October 11, 2021 1:26 PM

It's a Maiden Aunterie

by Anonymousreply 10October 11, 2021 1:34 PM

I believe the seocnd kitchen was in the carriage house.

by Anonymousreply 11October 11, 2021 1:40 PM

R8: There are photos of the kitchen and the separate pantry in the house, and in the carriage house there are photos of the kitchen in the two-bedroom apartment.

Not shown or mentioned is a secondary stairway at the rear of the house. Certainly there was one originally; occasionally they get removed to steal space for additional bathrooms, etc.

R6: A lot of upper middle class (and richer) houses from the last quarter of the 19thC had fireplaces as a prominent feature in a foyer/entry hall/stair hall. Unless the room were large enough to be a "living hall" with all those functions and more combined (as in Shingle Style houses of the wealthy along the New England coast), the fireplace often looks out of place. Indeed these foyer/entry halls had spare furnishings are were not meant for gathering around the fire; fires were probably lit only for entertainments or when especially cold, but many architects in this period sought to create a warm and "homey" impression that drew in some ways upon Colonial architecture as a point of inspiration (loosely reinterpreted.) Some houses of the period have giant engraved mottos, as this one does in the entablature above the firebox. They are almost inevitably corny in a "Live, Laugh, Love" sort of way, and often make allusions to hearth and home, or to the owner's Welsh ancestry, or a simple line from Shakespeare was always good.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 12October 11, 2021 1:44 PM

Fireplace in the entry hall could be a way of heating the upstairs hallway.

by Anonymousreply 13October 11, 2021 5:38 PM

Thanks, R12, I didn't know that, very interesting.

by Anonymousreply 14October 11, 2021 8:25 PM

Nice John Irving vibe, great for a big, crazy family, not for me. The shady trees are lovely too.

by Anonymousreply 15October 11, 2021 8:41 PM

A lot of that horrible wallpaper is not the work of a deranged Frau. No, some terrible Queen who thinks she has taste bought up close out wallpaper and slammed it up. Dreadful colors and dreary patterns. The dining room is a nightmare. That place has a lot of space, nice woodwork, room for many vintage cars, and likely an apartment to help pay for the hefty mortgage. With this size, and in its current condition this place is best left to Fraus with large broods and larger bank accounts. Or an old whore like Madonna (or Angie Jolie) could buy it as a summer “cabin” for her and her 12 children. Plenty of room for Rocco, Rocco Troll.

by Anonymousreply 16October 11, 2021 9:10 PM

A lot of the wallpaper looks old. Not original old but not HGTV redone. I see stains and patches and faded areas. (The b/w toile does look fresh.) I really like it all. It is comfortably shabby, very New England.

The location though. Keene may be nice, I don’t know. It’s in-town. Is it in a good neighborhood? I think Peterborough would be better (haven’t been there in ages so maybe that’s changed). What I’d really prefer is overlooking one of the big lakes. Use it as a big rambling summer house.

by Anonymousreply 17October 12, 2021 1:14 PM

Agree, r17, the wear patterns and fading on that first-story wallpaper mark it as being decades old, not some relatively new closeout sale wallpaper. You can see where years of books hitting the back wall wore the paper down, and there's an old imprint of something, probably a portrait, hung above the fireplace, along with staining from soot.

Most of the paper in the upstairs rooms looks comparatively new, though even on the second floor there's at least one room, the office, with what looks to me to be early 1960s washable "pre pasted" paper.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 18October 12, 2021 1:33 PM

What year is that stunning car?

by Anonymousreply 19October 12, 2021 1:45 PM

[quote]A lot of the wallpaper looks old. Not original old but not HGTV redone. I see stains and patches and faded areas. (The b/w toile does look fresh.) I really like it all. It is comfortably shabby, very New England.

That was what impressed me, R17, that sort of bookish, "comfortably shabby, very New England" look and feel of the place. Not shabby chic as seen on HGTV and that shiplap woman, everything brand new but covered just barely with a loose application of milk paint and Mason jars everywhere, but a house that looks at once well cared for but also lived in for 130 years. The floors are not perfect, I think they are painted in one room. The pantry hasn't been scrubbed clean to within a millimeter of its life. You can see where a chair back rubbed against the wallpaper; there's some fading in spots; the grasscloth in the entry hall has a big of sag in places, and a chunk missing. None of which bothers me at all. The wallpaper is better by far than the usual "Victorian Style" wallpaper, that whorey B&B look with strange reds and teals and rep tie stripes and Laura Ashley sprigs of flowers on fields of Goulden's Mustard or Navy Blue., always much more about the 1980s than the 1830s-1890s.

It's a house where the people who lived in it were confident enough not to fuck it up with 1950s hollow-core doors or dropped ceilings or ripping out the things that define it. And better still, it's a house where the owners didn't make a huge show of ripping everything out and putting it back, all slightly rearranged could they could change every little thing by degrees until the house no longer looked old but like an old house rebuilt from misshapen memory. It's becoming very rare to find an old house where the owners haven't fallen for "gut renovation," starting again with everything and getting nothing quite right, thinking that trendy Property Brothers backsplash tile and an open plan kitchen will make everything right, every time.

It's the kind of house that the families of my friends from college had: big sprawling places where the parents lived on one floor, the girls on another, guest rooms down the hall, and the teenage boys decamped to barely heated jack shack rooms over the carriage house or garage to, and the dining room wallpaper had burn marks from the last time the grandmother was let near candles or matches.

by Anonymousreply 20October 12, 2021 1:54 PM

Nicely priced, IMO.

by Anonymousreply 21October 12, 2021 1:57 PM

Although, at some point the owners stripped the dark varnish woodwork. Not recently, I’d guess decades ago.

by Anonymousreply 22October 12, 2021 5:50 PM

That is beautiful, and I particularly like the wallpapers, especially the dining room. Nice lighting for the most part too

I'd want to put rugs down everywhere in a cold climate like that though, and it looks too sparse, as if if the owners have already moved out but left behind just enough stuff to sort of stage it for photos. Otherwise there's really not much I'd do to it

Its a great price but hell those property taxes are high by comparison. I'd want to let the apartment to cover that, not the mortgage as I could pay cash for this. Possibly also let the top floor out as an apartment as it looks like there is a second kitchen up there.

The downstairs kitchen hasnt been touched in decades, I'm fine with it as is myself, but many people would want to update that

I'd love to see a floorplan

by Anonymousreply 23October 12, 2021 9:40 PM

No, I think there are only two kitchens. The carriage house has the garage, with the storage room of furniture on the ground floor. Upstairs there’s a modern-ish apartment and the basketball court (!) in the back wing.

So I looked up the street address and it’s on one of the main streets in town but most of the houses nearby are big ol’ Victorians in good shape. Within walking distance to the town center. It looks pleasant enough but I’d still prefer a smaller village or lake shore.

by Anonymousreply 24October 13, 2021 3:22 AM

R24 ok that makes sense. What am I going to do with a basketball court though? I dont play basketball.

I'd convert that into another apartment, maximise earning potential so I can cover the property taxes with rental income

If there's no kitchen upstairs I wonder how hard that would be to convert into an apartment? If there is already some plumbing up there it might be doable.

by Anonymousreply 25October 13, 2021 3:42 AM

But does it have room for a pony?

by Anonymousreply 26October 13, 2021 4:12 AM

How much could you sell that car for?

by Anonymousreply 27October 13, 2021 4:17 AM

[quote]If there's no kitchen upstairs I wonder how hard that would be to convert into an apartment? If there is already some plumbing up there it might be doable.

Who wants people stomping about through your vestibule, your entry hall, up the main stairs to the 2nd floor landing, then to wherever the stair to the third floor is? Or to funnel them in a back door and up a service stair (assuming the original one is still there)? Or to build an external stair for access (and worry about your tenants falling down the icy steps in winter), or maybe enclosing the whole thing as a big ugly box at the back. All to have people living above you in the apartment upstairs, making noise, sharing their cooking smells with you, and stomping about on the wood floors?

Of course you can probably convert the third floor to an apartment, depending on zoning, but at significant cost and compromise to the house. Had someone done it years ago, its use would be one that could be argued by right of past and continued use.

I would hate to buy a big house only to have to support the venturing by the income of strangers living with me. The carriage house seems a better possibility, with the one apartment already. I would use the place as the current owners do: the large ground floor space a big whatever room (a great room to have if you like to have big parties, or let the garden club have a fundraiser there, etc.) And I'd keep the gymnasium a relic of its past use not that I need a gymnasium but because it's one of the more beautiful spaces of the property. It's difficult to understand how the parts of the carriage house come together, its plan, etc. but I would want fewer residents. The existing apartment would be tempting to keep it rented to generate some easy income toward the the $25K property tax. I might look casually for an artist tenant to use one of the other big spaces as a studio, assuming it had or you could add a sink and w/c, etc. -- and that local laws permitted the use. The yard is certainly big enough that you could designate a shared part of it at the back of the house and then have plenty of space to your own at the front and rear of that.

by Anonymousreply 28October 13, 2021 8:49 AM

What would be the annual the heating bill for a place that size for someone who requires cosy year round?

by Anonymousreply 29October 13, 2021 9:13 AM

[quote]What would be the annual the heating bill for a place that size for someone who requires cosy year round?

Less than taxes, R29, beyond that I'm guessing but wouldn't think it would be more than $1000/mo in the coldest months. In a house nearly the same size in the Mid-Atlantic that had only two zones and was kept at about 68F most of the time and turned up to 70-72F for parts of the day was never more than $500/mo.

These data are from 2015 and "average" so not much more useful than my guess.

[quote]According to WalletHub, New Hampshire's average total energy cost per month is $324, placing it at 40th in the country, but tops in New England. Connecticut has the highest average monthly cost in the nation, at $410, and Massachusetts, is not far behind, at $352.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 30October 13, 2021 9:30 AM

R28 actually you make some good points, particularly about the noise - wooden buildings are bad for that

by Anonymousreply 31October 13, 2021 9:42 AM

lots of work to fix up right. Do you think this will sell fast? Sell at all? hard to tell with this place.

by Anonymousreply 32October 13, 2021 10:23 AM

Wouldn’t the fireplaces help keep the place warm during the winter? That must bring the cost of heating down some, no?

by Anonymousreply 33October 13, 2021 10:24 AM

It's a lovely old very New England place, the woodwork is fabulous, and the porch is divine. But it's huge, on a small lot, and I hate most of the wall paper and the kitchen needs a complete re-do. I have no idea what I would do with that much space. I'd probably wander around at night like a visiting great-aunt with dementia.

by Anonymousreply 34October 13, 2021 11:14 AM

R33: They would if you had a steady supply of firewood and a parlor maid to keep them fired up at all times and takes away buckets of ash early every morning and start them again. It's constant work to keep a fire going and then cleaning up and starting over the next day, let alone in a half dozen or more rooms. I count six or seven fireplaces but surely there are more. In 1890 it would have a central heating system (the big chunky mechanical looking radiators that would have been the main source of heat, with fires used in specific rooms infrequently in all likelihood, say on special occasions (photos, 4, 10, 13, 22-23, 34 show first generation; some of the others could be later replacements from the early to mid-20thC.)

One of the reasons that big houses of this sort exist is central heating. Earlier houses had a narrow center hall, for instance, with rooms, flanked by rooms that could be closed off by doors that communicated to the hall and to adjacent rooms. Rooms were heated by fire as they were used in these earlier houses. Fireplaces in bedrooms were used on rarest occasion: for an infirm old relative or when the cold was exceptional. People were accustomed to sleeping in temperatures that were only slightly warmer if less windy that the weather outside second floor bedrooms. Central heating which became increasingly affordable (for the middle classes at least) in the last couple decades of the Victorian era changed all that. There was one temperature setting to govern the whole house and resulting hot spots and cold spots but the level of comfort was similar to what we know today: the inside of a house was uniformly warm when the weather outside was brutal. This allowed for spaces like the big entry hall with its open stair up to a large stair landing upstairs, a drafty configuration that would have been a bitch to heat with a fireplace (even though there is one, but mostly for looks) could be warmed easily by central heating for those who could afford it. The earlier houses in New England, even the largest and most elegant were more compact and aware of consolidating and managing heat; these big rambling Shingle Style houses made a show of the fact that the house had now conquered the environment outside and that its owners could afford to keep the whole thing warm with central heat and illuminated with gas or electricity.

Besides the nuisance of hauling in wood and out with buckets of ash constantly, there's the worry of fire. When a big house like this had a family and various guests and maiden aunts camping out for months at a time in a guest room and a maid and a cook and a houseboy or someone else, there were enough people about to spot a problem early on. But now with much smaller families and no servants and maiden aunts installed for the winter the danger of unattended fires is much greater. It's also expensive to keep chimneys cleaned and relined and in good working order. Relining the flue for one fireplace can cost $4000, $6000, or more in many cases, times however many old fireplaces you have plus the cost of repointing chimneys where mortar has been eroded by gases and chimney caps reinstalled after wind storms. It's not always cheap to heat to heat a house with wood fires.

It's unusual to find so many working fireplaces in a house of ca.1890 period simply because they were already a thing of the past for middle class people. The late date probably owes in some combination to it being New England with a taste for history and tradition and easy access to firewood. In houses of the same period in Mid-Atlantic States, the fireplaces of this period were more likely decorative with one or two exceptions; in areas with easy access to coal, coal clung on longer as a fuel source for fireplaces.

When I lived in an 18th C house with eight working fireplaces, people would always ask "Do you heat the whole house with the fireplaces?" or "Isn't it lovely having them all going at once?" And I would think, "Are you fucking nuts?"

by Anonymousreply 35October 13, 2021 11:19 AM

Beautiful interiors!

by Anonymousreply 36October 13, 2021 11:19 AM
Need more help? Click Here.

Yes indeed, we too use "cookies." Take a look at our privacy/terms or if you just want to see the damn site without all this bureaucratic nonsense, click ACCEPT. Otherwise, you'll just have to find some other site for your pointless bitchery needs.


Become a contributor - post when you want with no ads!