The Houstory Hearth Herd – June 2014

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

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As a kid, I remember we’d often go to my grandparent’s house on Lopez Island in Washington state. It was a magical place. Sometimes, to save money, we’d leave our car and go on foot. When we arrived at the ferry landing after an hourlong ferry ride from the mainland, my grandparents — who lived about 20 minutes away on the shores of Fisherman’s Bay — would be there to pick us up, and off we’d go.


family heirlooms, Jewish Daily Forward
Photo courtesy of The Jewish Daily Forward

My grandfather was a fantastic driver and wasn’t afraid to whip around the winding corners of the island in a spurt of Volkswagen Rabbit-powered speed. Along the way, not far from the landing, I remember an old, wooden, graying house rotting in a vacant, grassy field.

Because of its state of disrepair and isolated location, it was a property that inspired conversation that often was saturated with ghosts, dead bodies and terror of all kinds. I don’t know if that house is still there (as of eight years ago, it was), but I will always regret not peering inside to seek out clues as to what stories it held.

This week, one of our stories — a radio show called “House on Loon Lake” by This American Life — features the story of kids who did go into “that house.” Not only is the house history revealed, but also the stories of the former residents — as relayed through abandoned family heirlooms.

This month’s Herd also includes a number of stories from the United Kingdom, some tragic and some that make you cringe.

Finally, make sure to check out the Jewish Daily Forward article that traced the stories behind 15 truly interesting family heirlooms.

On that note, we challenge you to consider if you are saving these stories for the future. After all, legacy is not about you. It’s about who comes after. Because if you don’t, who will? Am I right or am I right?

Ned Ryerson, Groundhog Day (:55 seconds): “Am I right or am I right? Or am I right? Am I right?”

What is “The Hearth Herd.” It’s simply a roundup (hence the name “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen in the recent past that our fellow Houstorians would likely be interested in. The Herd’s content will be confined to three main categories: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Environmental sustainability issues. Basically, the things you’ve come to expect when you visit our blog.

This is where you come in: If you see stories you think would make our monthly collection, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

HERD-HouseHistoryAuthor: Mail Online (UK)

TitleLand a D-Day home: Historic houses are being sold on the strength of their wartime connections

Herd-Worthy Because: Where do you fall? Do war stories sell properties? This article seems to hit folks the wrong way. What do you think?


Author: PreservationNation Blog

TitleMilk Bottle Buildings of Southeast Massachusetts

Herd-Worthy Because: Oddly shaped buildings of yesteryear combined with dairy product culture…what’s not to like?


AuthorNick Barratt

Title: “How to research the history of your home (UK)

Herd-Worthy Because: Great tips from a well-known house historian on the other side of the pond from Houstory.


AuthorThis American Life 

TitleHouse on Loon Lake

Extra: For photos, visit this Flickr Page!

Herd-Worthy Because: One of my favorite TAL episodes that was recently re-aired. How can it not be with quotes like this? “I was 13 years old and I had a crush on a house.”


Author: Asbury Park Press (NJ)

TitleNew exhibit – The History of Houses and the Things that Make Them Home

Herd-Worthy Because: This could have been in either the family heirloom section, or the house history section. Either way, it belongs.


AuthorGreen Building Press

TitleHistoric house cuts energy consumption by 90 percent

Herd-Worthy Because: Older doesn’t have to mean inefficient.

HERD-FamilyHeirloomsAuthor: Associated Press

TitleHeirlooms’ value shifts from sentiment to cash

Herd-Worthy BecauseFolks just aren’t holding on to family heirlooms the way they used to. Do you agree?


Author: Post-Bulletin (Rochester, Minn.)

TitleBasement treasure needs a home

Herd-Worthy Because: I just thought it was kinds of a cool classified section advertisement found within the confines of the newspaper. I wonder if anyone ever acted on it?


Author: Newcastle Herald (AUS)

Title: “Keepsakes for lost babies

Herd-Worthy Because: A touching, gentle reminder of young lives lost.


Author: The Jewish Daily Forward

TitleThe Things We Carried – The Heirlooms That Tell Our Stories

Herd-Worthy Because: Family heirlooms. 15 stories. Soup spoons, candlesticks and Torrah Scrolls…


Until we herd again…