Creaking hardwoods, squeaky door hinges, weathered cracks, and scratches on the floor. Music to my ears! How on earth does a house like that bring a feeling of warmth, coziness, and home? I am a sucker for historic homes because they aren’t just four walls and a roof, they tell stories. Every scratch, dent, and creak has a memory behind it left by former owners.

My husband Bradley and I bought a 1940’s bungalow in the wonderful neighborhood of Avondale in 2014. We weren’t even looking to buy, but this adorable white house on Ingleside Avenue won us over immediately. I found the house online Thursday, we drove by on Friday, walked through the house on Saturday, and made an offer on Monday! CRAZY!!! We had no idea what we were getting into.


The house was built in 1941 and was passed down through the family until we became the owners. About a year ago, when I was doing a good deep clean,  I noticed a little brown corner of paper peeping out from inside the mantle of our fireplace. I started to pull it out, but it was stuck. I honestly got a little nervous to pull hard because I wasn’t sure if a little bug friend would come out with it. Side note—I HATE spiders and roaches! I stood back, reached my arm out and gave one good yank! Out came a little envelope and a ton of dirt…so much for cleaning.


Inside the envelope was a little bear valentine and a letter dated June of 1951. I felt like I had struck gold! The penmanship was somewhat hard to read, but I was able to decipher a number of the words on the letter. The note was from a mother checking in on family. She mentions Camelia being at Mayport, wishing it was so she could have Roger now, Bill and Eddie being a godsend, having a line out but catching no fish, the wind blowing, asks if they received her gift, and hopes they are feeling better. Just a simple letter to update family and check on the people she loved. While I was hoping for a dramatic love letter, or something a little more exciting, I couldn’t help but wonder about these people’s lives. What kind of family gatherings had taken place in the very house I’m standing in? What conversations and memories had been shared here?

I may never know the full story behind the people in this little note, but it brought a sense of connection to the past owners. We are all living lives with ups and downs, exciting celebrations and tragic losses. Home is at the heart of it all. If the walls of our little white bungalow could speak, they would have countless stories to share. There really is no place like [a historic] home.

Katie Williams