The Big Fight-Sisterdale

Jack Hays’ Big Fight at Walker’s Creek

In Sisterdale, on Sunday June 8th, historical enthusiasts from across Kendall County and beyond are observing the 170th anniversary of the battle of Walker’s Creek – Jack Hays’ Big fight at the Sisterdale Dance Hall.

Jack Hays came to Texas late in 1836, worked as a surveyor, and commanded a roving Ranger company based in San Antonio in the 1840s. The Big Fight on Walker Creek made his name; one of the many brush-fire fights between Hays’ Rangers and Comanche raiders, who came down from the Southern Plains to make free with any horses, captives and portable loot they could carry away. In the summer of 1844, Captain Hays took a patrol of fourteen volunteers into the hills, looking for Indian raiding parties. One of his men was a Yankee from Maryland – Sam Walker, who had survived the Texian raid on Mier, the Black Bean Draw and an escapee from a stint in a Mexican prison. They were returning along an old trail between San Antonio and the deserted San Saba presidio. Near Sisterdale, a little short of where the trail crossed the Guadalupe River, they were about to set up camp for the night, when one of the Rangers spotted a honey-bee hive. The temptation of something sweet couldn’t be resisted, but when he shinnied up the tree, he looked back along the trail and saw they were followed by a dozen Comanche warriors.

The Rangers saddled up; seeing they had been spotted, the Indians turned away, heading off towards a timber-lined ravine nearby … obviously hoping to draw the Ranger troop into an ambush. Jack Hays held fast, and within minutes more than seventy impatient Comanche boiled out of the tree-line and the Rangers advanced. Likely the Comanche were surprised and unnerved; they fell back across the ravine and gathered on the summit of a low hill, where they dismounted and taunted the Rangers in Spanish – a language that Comanche and Texian had in common.

They had the high ground but the Rangers had a secret weapon – the newly-invented patent Colt Paterson 5-shot repeating pistols. Most had two, and Jack Hays had drilled them well. He led his troop around the knoll, and up another ravine, announcing themselves with a shout and a volley of rifle-fire. The Comanche rallied around their leader; Yellow Wolf, experienced in the customary way of war, in which they waited to draw fire from single-shot weapons, and counter-attacked in a flurry of arrows as the Texians reloaded. This process could take as long as a minute. But the Rangers threw aside their single-shot long guns and charged with their pistols. It turned into a bitter running fight at such close quarters that many participants were branded with powder burns. Jack Hays had trained and drilled tirelessly. It was a rout for the Comanche, faced with a weapon where the attacker had as many bullets to command as fingers on a hand. At the moment when the Rangers were about out of time and gunpowder, a fortunate shot by the only Ranger with a loaded rifle dropped Yellow Wolf. The survivors of his war party turned and ran.

Two years later, that skirmish was immortalized in the annals of American invention. At the start of the American war with Mexico, Sam Walker was back east, consulting with his fellow Yankee inventor Sam Colt about a redesign of the revolving pistol. Sam Walker wanted a heavier, sturdier, and less-complicated version – it would eventually be called the Walker Colt. At the urging of Sam Colt, Walker did a sketch of skirmish on the hills above Sisterdale and eventually it was embossed on the barrel of the improved revolver. And that’s the way it was, in the summer of 1844.

Gypsy Market Vendor

The Moveable Market

by Celia Hayes

My daughter and I are moving a little deeper into the world of the gypsy entrepreneur market these days. I mean, I have been dabbling around the edges for good few years as an independent author, once I realized that there was more to be made – and a lot less ego-death involved – by taking a table at a craft fair, like the New Braunfels Christmas Market, or in Miss Ruby’s Author Corral at Goliad’s Christmas on the Square. But this – like strictly book events, like the West Texas Book and Music Festival in Abilene – involved only a table and a chair. I usually had to bring along some tablecloths, some informational flyers, postcards and my business card, and maybe something eye-catching to adorn the table.

Going hard-core and getting a whole booth at something like the Boerne Market Days meant going much, much farther. My daughter has started a little business making various origami ornaments, flowers and jewelry, and this year we decided to partner together. It helps to have two people doing this kind of event, by the way – you can spell each other, make jaunts to other venders, go to the bathroom – and setting up and breaking down the booth or table is much, much easier. Many vendors, like us, have a day job, or several day jobs. They create on their own time, and bring it to the local market circuit on the weekends.

If we keep it up, we will have to purchase our own folding tables, and pop-up canopy – the nice kind, with the zip-up panel walls which can be attached for shelter, shade and some degree of security. This time, we rented from the management of the Boerne Market Days – but the people who regularly have a spot at the various markets own their own, which will make some more things to stuff into the Montero. A couple of good-sized banners to advertise our two little enterprises are also in our future. I don’t think we’ll go as far as a friend did, when she was selling at faraway craft shows. She and her husband went in their travel trailer; where they slept and cooked their own meals rather than lay out for motel rooms and restaurant meals. The name of the game is to break rather more than even; if the costs of participating in a market; table fee, gas, lodgings, food and your stock – all come up to more than you’ll make from sales, then you are doing it wrong.

We already have a lot of other necessary impedimenta – like a collection of sturdy covered plastic tubs in various sizes to store and transport our stock in, which can be fitted into the back of the Montero in a kind of three-dimensional game of Tetris. We saw quite a few venders with varied collections of tubs. We already have some necessary display hardware; metal and wooden stands for propping up books to display them, a rack for showing off pairs of earrings, some baskets and a magnetic board to show off the origami in. Many of the gypsy venders also have tall mesh stands, panels or folding screens to hang items on, or to attach narrow shelves for a wall display.

We already had a cash box, and receipt books – but for this time out we obtained a handy little gadget which only became available in the last year or so; a card reader which attaches to my daughter’s cell phone so that we could process credit card payments. This is enormously helpful to us and many other gypsy entrepreneurs, who previously could only handle check or cash payments. It’s the new old game again – small businesses run from a home or a farm, and selling at temporary markets.

The Grandest Villa

Downtown San Antonio the Villa Finale in King Willaim

by Celia Hayes

We walked through the part of the Riverwalk which runs from the Blue Star Art Complex up through King William last weekend, marveling at all the lovely period houses lining quiet, tree-lined streets. Although right next door to each other and very nearly of the same vintage, King William and Southtown have completely different sensibilities. The old Southtown houses are smaller, closer together, and many of them are more given over to commercial and artistic enterprises. While King William neighborhood does have a number of smaller bungalows and cottages lining the streets, it is the mansions and extensive gardens which set it apart; and one of the most splendid (after the Steves Homestead) is the Villa Finale – the home of the conservationist who put King William on the map as far as historical districts go.

The area was San Antonio’s first extensive up-scale suburb, beginning around the mid-19th century, when well-to-do German merchants and industrialists like C.H. Guenther, of the Pioneer Flour Mill began building stately mansions on what had been the outlaying farmlands attached to Mission San Antonio de Valero and Mission Conception. That first glorious heyday lasted until well into the 1920s, when the well-to-do began being drawn into newer developments in Alamo Heights and Terrell Hills, on rising land to the north of downtown. Many of the stately mansions became boarding houses, or broken up into apartments, and the area gently – or precipitously –decayed.

The credit for reviving the neighborhood and kick-starting restoration of many of the historic mansions and residences is usually given to Walter Mathis; a descendent of several local notables, including John W. Smith, last messenger from the Alamo and later Mayor of San Antonio. After service as an Army Air Corps combat pilot during WWII, he turned to investment banking, civic good works and collecting art and memorabilia. Late in the 1960s, he bought the house presently known as the Villa Finale and spent several years in research and meticulous repair; a splendid Italianate pile with a three-story square tower at one side. He filled the house with fine furniture, art and the results of his own enthusiastic collecting, lovingly landscaped the grounds … and then turned to other houses in the neighborhood, purchasing at least fourteen other houses and either restoring them entirely or in part, before re-selling – often on very favorable terms – to friends and acquaintances who could carry on the restoration. His efforts kick-started establishment of King William area as a National Historical District – and since then, of course, much are envied those homeowners who were either lucky enough to inherit property in the area, or who were perspicuous enough to acquire it for a song, way back then.

The Villa sits on King William Street and backs on the leg of the Riverwalk which runs through King William. The garden features a gazebo and a long wall separating it from the mansion next door – adorned with inset relief carvings. At this time of year the plantings are plain but serviceable; nothing spectacular or elaborate; just well-tended native plants or native-adapted plants and trees. There is a charge for visiting the house itself, but none for visiting the grounds and garden.

Downtown San Antonio Spanish Governors Palace

The Spanish Governor’s Palace

by Celia Hayes

The single-story adobe ramble on the corner of Military Plaza (or that which is left, with Town Hall plunked down in the middle of it) is the oldest existing domestic structure in San Antonio, It dates from the 1700s; that period when Texas was a far-flung outpost of Spain, and the entire town was a huddle of similar houses around the margins of Military and Main Plazas. So – the Spanish part of the description is justified. It definitely wasn’t a palace by any stretch of the imagination. But it was a vast improvement, living-situation-wise over a windowless, dirt-floored jacale-hut made by planting upright timbers in a trench and plastering them inside and out with mud, so on that basis it certainly looked enough like a palace to warrant a touch of exaggeration. Finally, it was a governor’s residence only by extending the term to gossamer-thinness; it was originally built as the residence and place of business for whomever was captain of the local garrison.

That captain of the garrison was the highest authority-figure around, year in and year out … and long after Mexico won independence from Spain, and Texas won independence from Mexico, the sturdy adobe building survived, as the home of the family of the last garrison captain. When it was no longer a residence – as the area around became a lively commercial district – the rooms housed various enterprises; a pawn shop, a grocery store, a couple of saloons and a haberdashers. Little by little, similar colonial-era structures crumbled, or were demolished and replaced by newer and bigger shops and houses. The nearby Veramendi mansion on Soledad, from the same era and general plan, but built of stone, also followed the same arc. Once the home of the aristocratic family whose daughter married James Bowie, it descending from a grand residence to a variety of shabby businesses before being demolished in the first decade of the 20th century in order to facilitate the widening of Soledad Street.

The Governor’s Palace was luckier – in that it didn’t stand in the way of any plans to widen streets, and that the conservation bug had settled in, well and truly. The city bought the place entire, and commissioned architect Harvey Partridge Smith to restore it to what it would have been like in its glory days. Smith used his knowledge of other similar buildings across the length and breadth of the Hispanic settlements in the Southwest, and so arrived at a romantic approximation rather than a strict interpretation. But it is a charming building even so, with thick walls and tall ceilings (as a sort of heat sink), long narrow windows opening into a Spanish-style courtyard and garden. In the old days, the garden and outbuildings would have reached to San Pedro Creek. The floors are of tile, which would have been cool to walk on, and there are numerous niches cut into the walls and set with shelves for various ornamental items. Before the invention of air conditioning, this kind of building would have been about as comfortable as you could get, in the heat of a Texas summer. The Spanish Governor’s Palace is open to the public various hours on every day but Monday, and is well worth a visit to gain an idea of how the upper elite would have lived in early San Antonio.

 

Ongoing Garden Plans

Ongoing Garden Plans – and a Lament

by Celia Hayes

Well, we’ll need a bag or two more of potting soil to properly fill up the big raised bed that I wrote about a couple of week ago, so there’ll be a delay in planting it. There’ll also be a delay in constructing the two narrower raised beds, which will be placed against the fence, with a bit of latticing attached, so that that plants which wish to climb – like beans, peas and cucumbers – can go to town. The big bed will be planted with zucchini and summer squash, which are supposed to produce by the ton, but which last year got attacked by some nasty kind of crud/parasite which attacked their stems and killed the plants themselves almost overnight.

The patent topsy-turvy tomato planters, which saw stout service these last two years by actually producing a nice little selection of tomatoes, were not up to another year. The heavy plasticized fabric that made up the body of the planter disintegrated to the point where I could tear it merely by poking it with a finger, and not very hard at that. The two planters which had been intended as a kind of hanging butterfly and humming bird garden fell apart even faster; one of them shredded spontaneously as we were taking it down from the tree. But the good news is – the rest of the unit, especially the metal ring and the wire loops and hooks which the whole thing hung from are still perfectly sound. And that gave me an idea to just create my own topsy tomato planters with those useful bits. I have a number of inexpensive plastic pots; just cut the drain hole a little larger, trim an ordinary cellulose sponge to fit inside the pot, insert a tomato seedling in the pot drain hole and secure it with the sponge, fill up with potting soil, and suspend the plastic pot from the hanging frame that we built last year, using the metal ring and wire loops that I saved from the old topsys! Here we go – a whole new forest of suspended tomato plants, and with luck, and the judicious application of the right kind of fertilizer and insecticides … more tomatoes!

The one remaining topsy that I don’t think we will use this year is the one for peppers. I’ve removed all the plants which survived from last year, and replanted them in large pots – just like I did with the ones from the year before. All the peppers – cayenne, Bell and jalapeno alike – are thriving. The one seedling vegetable variety that we do not need to re-stock the garden with this year is pepper. Seriously, I think there must be about fifteen individual pepper plants.

Which brings me to a lament a local casualty of the drought over the last couple of years; the Antique Rose Emporium outlet on Evans Road has closed. It actually closed six months ago, and when I first heard of this, I thought it must be a rumor. Surely we had been there – just before Christmas, sometime in September, I thought. But no – and there went a place which not only supplied me with darned near everything the least little bit exotic in my garden, but with gave me an example of what a beautiful, blooming, native Texas garden could be, stocked with roses and herbs and adapted perennials! So passes the glory of one of my favorite retail outlets, although there is some comfort to be had in knowing that their main establishment and website is still in business. I have no idea where we will go now for vegetable starts and herbs; split our devotion between HEB, Lowe’s and Rainbow Gardens, I guess..

Hill Country Road Trip

Road Trip: Fredericksburg by Bulverde, Sisterdale and Luckenbach

by Celia Hayes

Some time ago, my daughter and I discovered the back road route from our North-East San Antonio home, to Boerne; basically, going up 281 to Route 46 and then west to Boerne. This last weekend, we went a step farther, by going north up Bulverde Road and bypassing the horrendous 1604-281 nexus entirely. Really, as they get closer and closer to completing the interchange, traffic just gets worse and worse. And once we got to Boerne, we decided to take Ranch Road 1376, or the Sisterdale Road north to the Pedernales Valley – this turned out to be a fantastic way to get to Fredericksburg; scenic, little traffic and just about as rapidly as by the highway … except for being tempted to stop at so many interesting places – even if it were only to take some pictures.

The first of these temptations was just outside old Bulverde, proper; a charming Victorian cottage painted in bright yellow with aqua-blue trim and shutters, with a low stone wall in front, and some old stone buildings behind. It’s actually the remains of the old Pieper homestead. Behind the cottage is a the original stone farmhouse, which has barely held on to it’s original shake roof, and the stone barn beyond it, which has not. The current owners are in the midst of restoring the Pieper house, which when first built was the largest stone house around. The house and barn, and the backyard – shaded by an immense oak tree – is currently being used as an event venue and the pretty cottage is a bed and breakfast. We pulled in to take some more pictures – and wound up getting a tour of the whole place. I only wish that I had enough money from my books to buy a place like it; it’s spectacular in a low-key kind of way.

On to Boerne – with a pit-stop at the Squirrel’s Nest for my daughter’s weekly thrift-shop fix – and into the Hill Country by way of Sisterdale. Sisterdale was one of the original German settlements founded by the Adelsverein pioneers – one of whom was the Baron Westphal, Karl Marx’s brother-in law. Today Sisterdale is a little string of a hamlet spread out for several blocks along the road, and distinguished by Sister Creek Vinyards, housed in an old cotton gin building, and the Sisterdale Dance Hall and event center. My daughter was more interested in the swap meet going on next to the Sisterdale Market … and I was interested in the market because it was housed in one of those old 1920’s era peak-roofed cottages, with bead-board paneling throughout – and it actually seemed to be a very complete and efficient little one-stop grocery. So – discouraged my daughter from making a bid for either of their two shop cats – and on up the road.

Luckenbach is the next hamlet of any distinction, mostly because of Willie and Waylon and the boys. Besides the dance hall and concert venue – another destination in itself, the Armadillo Farm campground sprawls alongside the road. It seemed pretty crowded this last Saturday, although since it was a long weekend, I should not have been surprised. We were tempted to stop in at Uptown Luckenbach, mostly so I could take a picture of the towering old factory building – mostly gone to rust, but still spectacular. There was also a souvenir shop on the grounds, but a hand-painted sign noted that sometimes it was a self-help arrangement. That afternoon was one of those times.

We did eventually get to Fredericksburg – but that is another story.

For all your San Antonio Real Estate needs, call Team Randy Watson of Mission Realty at 210-319-4960

The Cibolo Creek Flows Through Boerne

A River Flows Through It

Click photos to enlarge

 

As the Riverwalk of San Antonio is such an ornament to the city and such a popular tourist attraction (only second after the Alamo) that one of the nicknames for our fair town is ‘The River City’ you’d think that any municipal organization possessing the necessary attribute – a permanent body of water deeper than a puddle in, or flowing through downtown – would have been been seen as a gift and an opportunity to do something like it. Maybe not cheek by cheek eateries and boutiques – but at least a pleasant string park, paralleling the river bank can this be created, for the benefit of the residents, the enriching of those retail establishments lucky to overlook it, and the sheer aesthetic pleasure of visitors to such a blessed community.

And so has the community of Boerne done, for a number of blocks paralleling River Road, on either side of Main Street. There is a generous paved trail, some added landscaping and stone work, paralleling the northern bank of Cibolo Creek as it runs through town. It seems that back in the day, Cibolo Creek was just as prone to overflow its banks and flood out parts of Boerne – just as the San Antonio River did, although on a much grander scale. We had noticed the new construction being done on the park, once we discovered Route 46/River Road; the back way between San Antonio and Boerne. So, last weekend we took advantage of slightly cooler temperatures to make a return trip to Boerne, as my daughter had her eye on certain items at the Squirrel’s Nest Resale Shop. The Squirrel’s Nest benefits Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation – an organization that everyone in this part of Texas ought to know about and support, since they are the go-to people when you find an injured, distressed and otherwise out-of-place wild animal or bird.

We had lunch at the Bear Moon Café – which was quite good; everything is made in-house and the servings are generous. Then we walked around a bit, and checked out some of the shops. This was not so much for what was in them, a lot of which was terribly high-end and pricy, but rather to look at the buildings themselves, many of which are historic old houses and business premises, and enormously charming in that respect. They were built for Texas, in the days before air conditioning, and some of them even before electrification: small rooms which opened into other rooms, or a central hall, with high ceilings, and tall windows. Usually there was a wide, shaded porch across the front, and if two-storied, those rooms on the upper floor also opened onto a verandah..

The Riverside Park already seems to be popular; we saw one family eating a picnic lunch, and a number of others settled in with fishing gear, sending their hooks into the lazy green water. The ducks and geese had all sought out shady places, on the opposite bank, though. The only other water critters we saw were turtles; and we didn’t realize at first that they were turtles. I thought their heads sticking up above the surface were just lengths of broken branch, until the heads vanished below the water, and there was a soup-bowl sized turtle, just dimly seen, diving down into deeper water.

All in all, a lovely afternoon in the Hill Country. That was my Saturday – and yours?

My Dream House

My Dream House

by Celia Hayes

I have about decided what I should like to live in, as my Texas dream house. Alas, it is not the house that I currently live in, which is a comfortable, small and relatively undistinguished tract house in a pleasant neighborhood full of other homes filled with variations on the same generic theme of brick and siding and vaguely neo-classical trimmings. Lots of tall windows, fan-lights, and fireplaces; shoot a brick at supersonic speed across those parts of San Antonio built up in the last thirty years and you’d hit two or three or four dozen pretty much like it.

No, what I would like in the way of the retirement property is pretty much what my parents got for themselves, when all of us had flown the parental nest; they built a nice house with a verandah all the way around it, on a knoll with a view out in the country. I wouldn’t go as far out as my parents did – for much of their lives together, directions to their current residence usually included the phrase, “Turn off of the pavement and onto the dirt road.” I’ve a liking for paved roads, myself – bouncing from rut to rut and dodging the gullies carved into a dirt road after a rain is not my idea of fun.

But I would like a house of a certain sort – a small one of a particular tradition. Not a single big house, but an eccentric collection of cottages, set in a rambling garden. A little house of mine – and two or three others, one for my daughter, and another one or two which would serve as guest quarters when I had company, just enough set apart that we all would have privacy. I’d love to have a well, with one of those old windmill pumps, to bring the water to an above-ground concrete or wooden cistern on legs … just as I have seen on some old properties here and there. There would be a scattering of oak trees – post oaks, live oaks, red oaks, for the shade, and to hang a wooden swing from a thick branch that parallels the ground.

The grounds around would be planted with native plants and tough adapted old roses, a tangle of jasmine somewhere, which would bring their scent in through the windows on those spring days before the summer heat sets in. There would be a wildflower meadow on the part of the property distant from the houses and I’d like a bit of a view from here and there, so my dream house and the others would probably have to be on a gentle slope. I don’t need a spectacular view, but I would like it to be mostly of countryside: Rolling hills, and all of that, maybe a glimpse of a distant creek or river. I think I would like the view to be towards the west – to catch the sunset, late in the afternoon.

As for the little houses on the property … I would love them to be Craftsman-style bungalows or small Texas farmhouses, maybe even a one or two of them might be repurposed log cabins. There are one or two lovely ones that I have noted here and there and admired extravagantly. I am thinking of the kind with a main room and a loft bedroom over, a kitchen lean-to on the back and a deep porch across the front. One or two of those would suit just fine, but even just a couple of those kit houses from Home Depot would work well, assuming that I could adorn them with vintage architectural surplus.

The final element that I would like in my dream country residence would be a separate entertainment kitchen – just one large room set up to do brewing and cheese-making, an industrial-sized stove and a deep sink, and outside of it, another deep porch with a barbeque grill and enough space to throw a good party. That’s my dream Texas dream home – what’s yours?

Habits of Frugality Part 1

Frugality – Part One

by Celia Hayes

I suppose I have come by the predilection for thrift in a fairly straightforward way – I inherited it. There are things that because my parents didn’t do them, I never actually have or would in the foreseeable future. Like purchase an entirely new automobile. Do you know how much it depreciates, as soon as you drive it off the lot? I can hear Dad lecturing me, even now. At least two years old, lightly used, dealer warranty.

Not even if I should become a fabulously wealthy and famous writer, the Margaret Mitchell of the Hill Country  . . .  nope, although I have now and again spent money unwisely, I just cannot bring myself to spend full retail on certain things. Apparently I am not alone in this, these days.  As my mother said of certain items of classic fashion; “Hold onto them long enough and they will come around again.” So, these habits of frugality have most assuredly come around again, in these troubled economic times. I can let them out for a romp, and bask in the glow of being fashionable! (This last happened when I first got into blogging – hey, for about a year or so, I was cutting edge!)

I guess the first overarching principle is – don’t fear second-hand! Second hand is cool, quirky and devastatingly original! It wasn’t made in China – it may even have been made in America! It is even ecologically sound, if that floats your boat. Best of all – it’s cheap. There are things that it is just more sensible to buy second hand: books, for instance. DVDs. Clothing – lightly worn, clean and good quality, of course. Older, vintage items might even be better quality for the same price as something brand new – but cheap. The same goes for shoes, but extra emphasis on the lightly-worn. Accessories and decorative elements, jewelry – say, what do you call second-hand jewelry which has been around for a while? Vintage, if not actually antique.  China, pottery, and glassware; you’d be blown away by the quality and good value of items available at estate sales, garage sales and thrift stores.

Speaking of antiques, that’s another good second hand purchase: good solid wood furniture. Something made twenty, thirty years ago, of solid wood with a little wear and tear on it will still be something more solid, more worthwhile, elegant, and possibly even more interesting that a something made last week from a slab of glued and compressed sawdust covered with cheap veneer. Consider this, also – that solid piece of good wood furniture is already broken in!

Second-hand upholstered furniture is something I am in two minds about – considering that liquids (including human and animal bodily fluids – yuck!) might have been spilled into it, all kinds of microscopic and larger vermin might have made a happy home therein over the years that it has been in use. Basically, unless it can be dry-cleaned, or run through an ultra-hot washing machine cycle with bleach, I’d give it a miss.   . . .  this applies to pillows, too. And mattresses. I might be budget-minded, but I am also fastidious.  Generally, these last fall into the category of things one should go ahead and purchase new, but your mileage and your skills at upholstery may vary.

(Next week – Marked down, and a list of sources!)
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Selling Your Vintage Home

Created Sunday, 18 January 2009 15:50

Sellers: How to Make the Most of Your Home’s Period Details

One of the major selling points of vintage homes is the attention to detail and fine craftsmanship only found in older houses. Learn how to make the most of the period details in your house to reap higher sales prices with these effective strategies:

Shine the Spotlight: Prepare your home in anticipation of taking plenty of photos. Pay attention to details and any unique features. If you have lived in your home for a while, ask friends or family to stop by and take a fresh look; it’s easy to forget how desirable your home is when you see it every day.

Provide Details: Was your house built with old yellow pine? Chances are it is virtually indestructible to most pests. What about the hardwood floors or gingerbread trim on the outside of the house? Any chance they are handmade? Cabinets, painted tiles and a variety of other common building materials have made a comeback in popularity. Take time to explain the history and benefits associated with each unique item of your home to prospective buyers. Not only does it set your home apart from the rest, but knowing the history helps buyers make that all-important emotional connection.

Appraise Items: If possible, hire an appraiser or perform a search for similar items to help demonstrate the inherent value of the items. For example, an old cast-iron tub in good condition can go for thousands; handmade lighting fixtures may range from a few hundred to thousands and many types of wood are not available at any price because of restrictions on harvesting and imports.

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