Old Gothic Revival shelters the weary

/ Sunday, August 21, 2011 /
 Over the last year, I watched the old, vacant cottage next to my apartment be half demolished (with amazing precision), then restructured, rebuilt and refashioned into a new and useful tool. Families in Transition, a non-profit dedicated to providing affordable housing and emergency shelter, was donated the property by New Hampshire Housing. FIT repurposed the house into interim housing for struggling families. Once, much smaller, the old house now supports 16 family-sized units.

The house is a Gothic Revival style cottage (fitting it stands across from a Gothic style church) that was built in 1846. The most I can glean of its history is that a shoemaker, James F. Bursiel, lived there for several years in the 1860s before moving to Lewiston, Maine sometime around 1880. It also served as a youth runaway shelter sometime in the late 20th century.

I'm often amused by the house's charming facade in the stark shadow of its new, bulbous and domestic-gilded backside. Air conditioning systems, security cameras and bright lights protrude from the cheery, yellow, Venetian siding like blisters eluding to the gravity of the house's new purpose and the current state of the lives that it now holds inside.

Imagine a single mom with two kids, just laid off, evicted, newly divorced and her ex-husband is leaving eerie death threats on her voicemail. FIT approves her and the kids for temporary housing and they pull up in front of the old Gothic Revival on a sunny, summer afternoon. The molding hanging from the eves tantalizes the children's eyes and the porch invites a quiet evening of reading and peace of mind, a temporary reprieve from her rotten luck. Once an aging piece of under-utilized state property, the house now looks like a sliver salvation in the right eyes.


{ Dan Blackler } on: August 21, 2011 at 1:03 PM said...

This is the place they were building next door? It's god damn huge.

{ Dan Brian } on: August 21, 2011 at 6:56 PM said...

Yeah, from the backside, it's a bit of a monstrosity.

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