730 Broadway, Haverhill MA, was an important address for countless people. Jim and I lived there for 10 years, preceded and followed by many West Church pastors and assorted friends.
Built in 1856, the house had character. On the cold, November day we moved in, this radiator gave welcome. The stone foundation let in a snake or two, and the dark, dank basement was the perfect setting for catacomb services.
The bedrooms were laid out strangely, with two rooms in the back that had not been touched since the early 1900s. We fixed one as a guest bedroom, and that’s where Lilly Gustafson was napping when I found and returned to her the lost, loose diamond that had fallen from her ring. A priceless moment!
Our annual Christmas Open House involved lots of decorating, baking, and loving on parishioners who loved us back. Hugely fun, with folks coming and going until finally, I could settle into silence and beauty, with a small plate of goodies in hand.
We held choir rehearsals in the living room. Very pregnant during one of them, I went into labor, and a neighbor came to babysit while we welcomed son Lee.
Our three kids did their major growing up in that house. We laughed and played and chased each other. We didn’t do everything right, but our children look back fondly on those developing years. One incident will live in infamy:
We drove up the driveway, just in time to see Rachel go after Eric with an umbrella. We gave her what-for, only to find out that it was Eric’s badgering that had driven her to violence.
When Jim resigned as pastor and morphed into his teaching career, we left the parsonage, but walking out the kitchen door that last time made us very sad. It was an old house with many deficiencies, but it had been a treasured home for each of us.
I wept that day, but life goes on. The house had ministered to many pastors, along with countless young people and other lay folk. And now it has been laid to rest.
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What building in your life would you hate to see crumble? Comment below, or email email@example.com
Such sweet memories of a true “home” and it’s place in your heart.
love how you wove in the significance of it was not a house BUT A HOME….
We are facing similar as the farmhouse at 1100 will be torn down this spring to make way for a new home for Kevin and his wife. It is the home where we lived for 25 years and where I raised the boys. It has outlived its usefulness and needs to come down, but the tears are coming….as we look forward to a new chapter. Bittersweet!
This was so fun to read Ellie! it reminds me of my mom’s house in Merrimac of 300+ years where we hold fond memories of growing up together. It’s fun to imagine the myriad of blessings showered upon and through the people who lived in this same house throughout the decades. Your blog reminds me that we can take hold of His magnificent blessings in our homes today!
Loved this Ellie!! I am super sentimental about the houses I have lived in. I can still recite to you the address and phone number of the house I lived and grew up in Dearborn, Michigan! I can remember walking through that front door when I was about 4 years older…..one of my first memories as a kid! Thanks for sharing this!
Hi Ellie, I love the house stories and the history. What a wonderful family and home for all of you. My favorite house was the one that my children grew up in. I don’t have any feelings for any house that I lived in prior to that one. I still drive by that house to check on the trees that I planted. My fondness for that house does not wane. Thanks for sharing your sentiments about where you brought up your family.
Ellie, this was so precious! The creepy old parsonage where I grew up is now home to our family’s attorney.
Well done Ellie, what a story of life!
Awesome story. I would hate to see the home my mother designed torn down. Even though having seen a recent for sale listing the people who bought it from us made lots of changes that I find disturbing. I mentioned this to my cousin whose response was at least the house you grew up in is still standing my mothers house had to be torn down. Very sad indeed to loose a part of personal history.
My parents built a sweet little center-chimney Cape Cod style house when I was born in 1954. 618 Court St. was the epicenter of our family’s universe until my Mom passed away in 2017. According to her wishes, we sold the house and split the profits seven ways. Miraculously, each of us got back all of the money we had supplied to keep Mom in her beloved home for 30 years after my Dad passed away. We were so amazed and credit it to “God’s math!”
I pray for the beautiful young couple who live there now, chipping away at all the damage we caused having fun there for over 60 years!
Wonderful memories Ellie! I was in that house when Jane C. lived there. I love old houses like that one. No human needed to tell the stories of time past. Being an Army brat and child of divorced parents I moved too many times to really have a favorite of mine but my grandparents’ homes in Newport RI (maternal) and Freeport ME (fraternal) hold special memories. The house in Newport my other sold for $5000. On a not so recent visit I saw the new owner outside and asked him what he had paid for it and he said $365,000!!! The house in Freeport is now owned by L.L.Bean, warehouses and parking lots out back take up the space that belonged to the old barn and fields but the house has been very well taken care of. I got caught trespassingonce when I was visiting other family a few years back and couldn’t resist looking in the windows.Used as a place for meetings now it was virtually empty but my imagination took me back on a visual tour and I could see Grampy’s old chair, the sofa and many bookcases and the old wood stove and small kitchen table that Grammy had fed me toast and homemade butter on. The guard was very nice after I explained why I was there and told me to take my time.
I have been following your blog for a long time now, loving to see your life of faith in Christ through eyes gifted with the creative genius God gave you to paint insightful and masterful word pictures of spiritual truths that cause me to quietly sit and reflect on the goodness of God’s grace, mercy, love and wisdom for every day life and through every phase of life until we step into HIs glorious presence; real everyday life-gifts that fit as perfectly as a new pair of finest textured gloves.
“The Funeral for a House” stirred many precious memories of life for me in that very same house. Sherry and I were the first pastoral family to live there after you and Jim moved into your new house built with the lumber you cut from your tree farm in Vermont. The house you built with your own hands.
I remember well sending Sherry across the street from the parsonage to the Reval’s house each night after supper for the first month,with our one month old daughter, Peri, so that a small group of workmen could come in with saws and hammers and help me make some needed repairs. One of my fondest memories of those days was working side-by-side with Jack Lewis (our most senior member) ripping down cracked horse-hair plaster and throwing it out the upstairs window into his old blue vintage farm dump truck.
We still love the memories of that old house even though it has now been reduced to dust and ashes. We still love all the people we shared those years with. I still have their faces stored in my weakening memory bank and can still name just about every one of them.
I have one memory of that old house more precious than all the rest. I think of it every time I reflect on our years in Haverhill. It’s not the quirky architectural layout or the fun hiding places. It’s the one well worn wood back step from the driveway into the kitchen. It was on that step on numerous mornings we found milk, eggs, or vegetables fresh from someone’s farm or garden. We came to know it as ‘The Love Step’. No other house in our 46 years of ministry held that place of honor in our hearts.
It is with deep gratitude, Ellie, that I thank you and Jim and the congregation of those days for loving us and accepting us as a family.