The Difficulty of Maintaining

Maine is not the richest of states.

Many of Maine’s people have a tough time making ends meet.

Maine houses show how hard it can be to make a living, how hard it can be to maintain.

Here are six images that take you from “getting by” to “given up”.

First, on the road, out in the country….

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From the shapes of the house, back ell, and small barn, you could assume that there was once a great barn, now gone, on this old farmstead. The car says there’s at least one job in the family, and that there are active lives underway under this roof.

Second, a house “in town”.

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A house “in town”. Nice color scheme, especially with the barn in back. The fancier original front porch steps are gone, replaced by basic carpentry. The gable end window sash of the barn is missing panes of glass, so the weather’s getting in, and making mischief. There’s a satellite TV dish. The inhabitants don’t have much time for gardening. But there’s a car in use here, by the look of the driveway.

Third, on the outskirts of a small town.

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This house is fascinating. It’s way longer than most, it looks like two houses, grafted together to make one. The concrete block foundation is newer than the structure. The stapladder says that maintenance is ongoing. So does the “modern” weathertight steel door. If you can’t fix a window straightaway, a piece of plywood at least keeps things dry. The oil tank is a recent installation (you can tell by the blue-jacketed supply tube going into the house). The camper says there’s a pickup truck in the family, and that these folks probably go places. And that multiple-sided (octagonal?) room on the far right? With the ball-topped spire at the center of its roof?

Fourth, another “in town” house. The mowing of the lawn has stopped.

The house is for sale. What is the story here?

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My traveling companion’s memory was that the price on this house was $12,000.

Fifth, in a roadside field, the old farmhouse with “widow’s peak” gable, that feature very likely a mid-19th century addition, sags in the middle.

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The roof rusts. But there is still glass in the sash, and there’s still a utility wire. Somebody made a low-budget front porch, steps and railing within the last ten or fifteen years. The grass gets cut at least annually, for there are not yet bushes or saplings popping up in the yard.

And this is the end.

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The elements win. Perhaps a storm with heavy snow brings collapse and with it, full invasion of water. Dry pockets will still provide homes for critters, but only for a limited number of years. Perhaps on a rainy or snowy day someone will burn these lingering flakes of structure, to leave only ashes, a few unburnt bits, and lingering in the earth, metal fasteners to gradually oxidize. In fifty years, only old maps, historical records or a metal detector will be able to say “There was a building here once.”

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2 responses to “The Difficulty of Maintaining

  1. The next to last photo shows an Acadian gable, steeper sloped than the local norm; probable influence from up north in the Maritimes. Love your eye for detail and curiosity for the back-story!

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