Let’s Pretend We Have My Favorite House

I’m terrible at picking favorites. Ask me my favorite color or food and I’ll tell you I can’t pick just one. You’d think I’d have just as much trouble with houses. But you’d be wrong. This has been my favorite house for a solid 20 years.


It’s in Atlantic City. More specifically, it’s in the nice part of Atlantic City. It’s the third house from the beach.


And it’s huge and fancy. But it’s not the hugest or fanciest house I’ve ever been in, I don’t even want a big house, and I’m not really a beach person anyway.

So what is it?

Well, sentimental attachment. This house used to belong to a good friend’s grandmother, and after thinking a 50’s Cape Cod was a palace, I was in awe.


Of course you love this foyer. But imagine seeing it for the first time when you were 6. And now imagine running all the way up to the top and pelting things at your sister.

And there’s this thing! It still works! (Or at least it did last year.)


And back then I thought circular flow was the gold standard of a nice house. Though our house didn’t have it, my grandparents’ homes did, and I’d run in circles in them. I will never forget the sound of my grandfather’s hutch rattling as I ran through the dining room. But in THIS there are so many rooms, alcoves, doors, and stairways you can do figure 8’s! And with 4 Jack and Jill bathrooms, 2 of which open to the same bedroom, you can even get through 3 different bedrooms without going into the hall! Plus, most of them are original (from 1919) and completely wrecked! My 2 favorite things.


And the balconies! So many of them! I believe there are 11 Juliet balconies, plus 2 large ones off 4 of the bedrooms and a partially covered wrap-around terrace downstairs to which all the front rooms except the dining room open.


And then every room was jam packed with weird stuff that had been there for decades.


The original owners took off for Europe and sold the house to my friend’s grandparents with much of the original furniture included. They then incongruously modernized some of the décor in 1960, and then basically let the place rot.

And really, there’s no better way for a house to win my heart than to need saving really badly. This house sold last year for $250,000. That’s about a million dollar discount versus a house in good condition. I have no idea what’s being done to it but that means that by rights it will be cost effective to save it.

I kind of want to knock on the door sometime, even though I’d be scared to actually do that. But I’ve pondered on how to restore this place for years. Before I know what happened to it, I want to go through what I would do. So this summer I’ll have a few posts where we can pretend that I’m a multimillionaire and that I want a shore mansion. This imaginary Chad does a lot of entertaining. I can’t figure out why else he’d want a 6000 square foot house with 10 bedrooms. But because he’s still a lot like the real me, he doesn’t care a hoot about having huge bedrooms and bathrooms and he’s going to keep the upstairs more or less the same as it is now. Maybe I should also consider what I’d do if I could have flipped the place to resell. Of course, this flip would be atypically preservation-minded and unprofitable.

So next time we’ll talk in a little more detail.


15 thoughts on “Let’s Pretend We Have My Favorite House

  1. Chris

    Fascinating. Follow your heart with this project. You never know where it will lead. And by all mean knock on the door.


  2. Julia at Home on 129 Acres

    Totally with you in this fantasy world. The exterior of this house is exactly what would draw me in too. And that foyer! I’m looking forward to hearing your plans.

    There’s something about wanting to rescue a rundown house that always draws me in. My favourite house (https://homeon129acres.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/abandonment/) was in the same state, but someone started renovating it a few years ago. It’s a big job to bring a house like that back, and I fear they might have given up based on the state of the house the last time I saw it. However, I still want to knock on the door and ask to see inside!


  3. Mary Elizabeth

    Yes, I always want what DH and I call “a sad house” to make it happy again. That house (with the creepy clown doll just like the one I bought when I was 6 by stealing a dollar from Mom’s purse, but that’s another story) looks like it has had a lot of kid adventures. And yes, we seriously considered several years ago buying and flipping houses as a business, but our financial advisor talked us out of it. Even though we would be good retro/historic flippers, he said we would go broke in the process if we tried to do it for anyone other than ourselves. He made us total up the time we took to do our various projects and calculate our hourly wage if we were paying ourselves.

    Back to the house in AC. You didn’t mention that it appears the Boardwalk begins right on that street! Woo-hoo!


  4. Mary Elizabeth

    I forgot to say that you don’t need to knock on the door with a cold call on the family that now owns the house. You can find out from property records who owns it (they are on the web for most towns) and then write to them by name at that address to ask if you can visit the house you stayed in as a child. If they are nice people, they will say yes. If not, you didn’t want to interact with them anyway.


  5. Jo

    Love this kind of post, Chad. Wishing YOU were the new owner. Maybe the new owners will blog about it. HA! Jo @ Let’s Face the Music


  6. themainstreetproject

    Love this house! I was drawn to my new home for the same reasons, although significantly less grandiose. There is a certain aesthetic “abandoned house chic” about this home that draws out the imagination. I hope the individual(s) that purchased this beauty renovate instead of remodel.



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