I don’t know how to write this post.
Every time I start, including right now, the tears start to fall. You can be absolutely sure that you’re making the right decision about something, and still feel like your heart is breaking.
16 Henry Avenue, the brick row house in the City of Newburgh for which this blog is named, is for sale.
When Evan and I bought this house in the spring of 2006, we had no clue what we were getting ourselves into. Somehow, we thought we’d get the whole thing renovated in about six months. Maybe a little longer for the little details. We knew absolutely nothing about what it meant to be homeowners, much less what goes into renovating a house. We had no idea that for the better part of the following decade, our lives would revolve primarily around one thing: working on the house.
It took a lot of learning. It took a lot of patience. It took a lot of sleep deprivation, bodily injury, more emotional breakdowns than I care to remember, and, because it also took a lot of money, it took a very long time.
Until late 2009, we commuted from Newburgh to New York City via ferry and Metro-North every day (about as beautiful and low-stress a commute a person can ask for), and we fully expected to continue doing so indefinitely. But unforeseen things happened, primarily related to my physical health (which I know I never really talk about here), and it became impossible for me to take the train on a daily basis. So, we got a little pied-à-terre in upper Manhattan for not much more than the cost of monthly train tickets. For a couple of years, that was great. We stayed in the city when we needed to, and we went to Newburgh when we wanted to. Then Evan got a new job in Brooklyn, which meant that his commute got much longer, which seemed to defeat the purpose of having a city apartment, so we got a new apartment in Brooklyn…which is that much further from Newburgh…
You see where this is going. Two more apartments later, the shift in our lives from Newburgh to Brooklyn can no longer be ignored. It’s gotten to the point where packing to go upstate every weekend feels like a chore (I know, cry me a Hudson River), and we’re spending less and less time in our beautiful house. We have never stopped loving Newburgh, and we feel great when we’re here, but to continue to hold on to a house when you’re rarely in it is, well, kind of silly once you take look past the sentimental aspects.
Also, even the most affordable house—and our house is about as affordable as they come in that part of the Hudson Valley—becomes a financial weight when it’s a second (first?) home, especially when the first (second?) home is a rental in New York City.
Am I rambling? Maybe. Sorry. Like I said, I don’t know how to write this post. There are too many pictures and too many words.
I feel like I’m letting so many people down by selling my house. Is that crazy? When we first decided to sell, I was overwhelmed by the feeling that I was bailing on Newburgh. Let me make this totally clear: THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH NEWBURGH. I love Newburgh. I will champion Newburgh as one of the greatest places I’ve ever known until the day I die. I was born and raised in the Hudson Valley, and it’ll always be my home. My mother and stepfather live in Newburgh. I have wonderful friends here. For all of the hardships Newburgh has faced, it keeps chugging along—and people are finally starting to respect its place not only in history, but in the future. There’s so much exciting stuff going on here right now, and I plan to continue to be a part of that.
Then I started feeling like I was letting my neighbors down. And like I was letting my mother and stepfather down. And, of course…I felt and still feel like I’m letting you down.
YOU. The reader of this blog.
I get comments pretty regularly from people who are angry that I no longer post about renovation stuff here. I get that, because not everyone cares are about graphic design and makeup and shoes and stuff, and even though I’ve been blogging about those things for as long as I’ve been a blogger, I’m sure it was much easier to scroll past that stuff when there was something else to scroll to. How are those people going to feel when there’s no more house at all? They’re probably going to be even more disappointed, but there’s nothing I can do about that. I mean…there really isn’t. But I still feel badly, because feeling badly is what I do best.
Also, this is hard to articulate, but I kind of feel like I’m losing a major part of my identity. We’ve been so focused on this house for so long. As Evan put it a few weeks ago, it’s come to define who we are. What does it mean to not have that anymore? I don’t know. Much like I can’t remember the time in my life before I had dogs, it’s very hard to remember not having this house to take care of.
More to the point, this house is the physical manifestation of everything I believe when it comes to preservation, renovation, decoration, aesthetics, style, comfort, and what it means to be at home.
You know what else I’ve been getting upset about? Not knowing who will buy the house. What I wanted more than anything from the first day we owned this place was to make certain that it would outlive us by hundreds of years. The house had been neglected and mistreated for so long, yet had managed to hold onto its character for 115 years when we came along. I’ve always seen our roles as being those of temporary caretakers, and I believe that’s how owners of these old houses—built to last for many centuries—should approach any renovations, modifications and improvements they make. I only wanted to give this house back its beauty, and make it strong and healthy for its future. That’s it. I think we succeeded in accomplishing that much, and I truly hope that the next owner gets it.
Whoever does buy this house will be getting something very, very special. That is for sure. Door Sixteen has been treated with love from top to bottom for the past nine years. It’s right by an open bluff with some of the best views of the Hudson River imaginable. The neighbors (Remember my neighbors?) are awesome. It’s a great place to live.
Speaking of neighbors, I need to take a minute to call out one in particular—Joshua Brown, who took all of the photos in this post. Last summer, he bought the identical house three doors down from us, and soon after his dog Skillet came to live with him. Josh is a really nice guy, an amazing photographer, and a pretty swell neighbor. He’s also totally committed to doing his part to help make Newburgh an even better place than it already is. You couldn’t ask for a better guy to have on your block. You can follow his Hudson Valley adventures on Instagram, hire him to photograph your wedding, and become his new neighbor!
I’ve set up a simple website with a bunch of the photos Josh took. Take a peek. Here’s the Zillow listing, and the one at Realtor.com.
If you or someone you know might be interested in buying the house, you can get in touch with our agent, Chris Hanson. Chris is THE guy you want at your side if you’re looking to buy in Newburgh. He’s in the midst of renovating his own historic Newburgh home for the second time (the first time was this beauty right on my block), and he’s super knowledgeable about all of Newburgh and its properties.
By the way, the big Newburgh Illuminated Festival is this weekend, and it’s going to be AWESOME. If you’re thinking about coming up to check out the city and see how nice it is up here, this would be a great excuse to do it.
Viva Newburgh! Viva Door Sixteen!
All photographs © Joshua Brown Photography. Please do not use for commercial purposes without permission.