Just Junking | Just Saying... | Trash to Treasure

A Stranger Gave Me A House!

February 26, 2012

Wow! The random kindness of a stranger has truly humbled me. Let me tell you about Mary. I’m embarrassed to say I barely remember our first casual encounter. My husband and I were at the garden store where I display and sell my crafts. We were loading our trailer for a craft show and Mary was there as a customer of the store. I think we spoke briefly about the craft show we were going to, but I’m not sure. That was last fall.

Mary contacted us a few days ago and offered us a house to salvage for our crafts.


The house was built in 1890 on property the family has farmed on for several generations.

Due to the age and abandonment issues of the house, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. As a junk crafter I am thrilled! Other people who can’t see the potential in old wood and other things might not be.

It is a cross between Dorothy’s house and Casper’s house.

The siding is wood strips that are nailed on wide thick planks. Cha-ching! That is like gold to a wood crafter.

Mary (and family) are also offering us things that are still in the house. They want to keep the wood stoves. That’s okay, I’m really not sure what I would do with them. They are cool though.

The walls and floor are sinking, so opening doors was a little challenging.

There were several doors, windows and the sides of a chicken coop on the front porch.

This door awning had fallen off, but they saved it.

The floor of one whole room was piled with old (very old) canning jars. Clear and colored, glass tops and zinc tops. A lot of the jars still have food in them. Mmm…Yummy! We couldn’t walk through this room without stepping on the jars. Quite the balancing act. I can’t wait to get my hands on those jars!

There were also a few chairs, enamelware basins, flower pots and galvanized buckets.

There was a tall skinny desk that I am hoping is salvageable once it is dug out. Mary is also giving us several wooden doors from another old house.

This watercolor is of the house when it was built in 1890. The two-story section is gone. The part we are salvaging is the section on the right. The older building to the right was the original house even before this one. It isn’t there anymore.

This framed picture (not sure of the medium used) is a different angle of the old house.

More stuff.

More stuff.

More stuff. They’re keeping the crocks, but they are amazing!

I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this junking journey. After all, we still have to tear it down and transport it home. By the way…if any local friends would like to help, I’m sure we could find an extra hammer. Just saying…;)


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  1. It is really too bad that the house couldn’t be saved as to such history with the paintings and more. The jars and other items are very collectible and quite a few items can be recyled into yard art, etc. The barn board is good for furniture…So have fun and enjoy your gift.

  2. That is awesome! Modern housing has no character, but this one exudes it. Very cool gift.

  3. How will you clean the jars up? Looks very interesting! I’d be afraid of spiders… but other than that, I’d be in heaven if I could have done something like this years ago when I still crafted regularly!

    1. So glad everyone seems to be as excited about this as I am!
      Michy, I’m not sure what I’ll need to clean the jars. I’ve never tried to clean out a jar that has food close to a century old in it. It will be a learning experience for sure.

  4. How awesome! Who knows what is underneath some of that stuff. I just read that denture tablets, left in water in jars overnight, cleans them. Haven’t tried it yet myself. With that many jars you’d have to buy it by the case! lol

    1. Maureen,
      What a great idea! Yep, if it works I will need to buy stock in the company.

  5. Oh my goodness!!! My dream come true… for you! Wow. Look forward to seeing more about this blessing!

  6. {Squeal!!!} That is every junker’s dream!!! My jaw kept dropping as I scrolled through your pictures! What treasures there are in there. I must admit, I’m a tad bit jealous. : ) I’m going to follow your blog now if only to see the progress on this place. So much fun!

  7. wow, congrats on the house!!! What allot of work but fun too!

  8. This is so interesting and I am from Kansas but no longer living there. My son still lives there and we will be visiting him in May. Where do you live? I am from Wichita and my son lives in a small town close to the Oklahoma border south of Wichita named Dexter. My sister lives in Oxford and works in Wichita.

    1. Terry,
      What a wonderful small world we live in! I am in Winfield, and the house is in the country on the west side of Oxford.
      I sent you an email.

  9. Holy cow, what a gold mine! You can repurpose with that stuff….forever! What wonderful generosity! You will have to make her something from the old house. Have fun! I would be there in a heartbeat!

  10. That is so incredible. I was drooling over each picture. You must have made a great impression on her for her to remember you and your work when this opportunity came up. How sweet of her. Have fun! I can’t wait to see all of your creations!!!!!! I will be following along with excitement (and a little bit of jealousy). 🙂

  11. Wow! What a gold mine. Good luck and I will love to see what you do with all of this new found treasures.

  12. Wow, I sure see a lot of treasure in that old house. How wonderful for you. Hope you share some pics when you get everything out and cleaned up.

  13. OMG! A whole house full of junk to make things from…and the exterior is a treasure trove too. I like the curved wood trim along the sides and the aged clapboards. What an amazing gift and an amazing opportunity. Wow…just Wow!!! Can’t wait to see what you do with it.

  14. OMG
    As the American Pickers would say You Hit The Mother Load. Oh how i wish I was close to see all that stuff in the house
    How much fun you will have

  15. This is awesome! Last year we took apart a 100 year old Iowa farmhouse before it was knocked down. After a LOT of hard work we have new 100 year old oak floors in our master bedroom 🙂 We have many other treasures from there too! Good luck on your *treasure hunt*…wear gloves!
    Hugs from Iowa,
    Michelle at Pine Needle Hill

  16. I’m so happy for you about all the wonderful treasures waiting for you in that house! You’re going to have a ball unearthing all of it! 🙂 But it’s so very sad to see a house that was once so beautiful gone to waste. 🙁 So much history there…..
    xoxo laurie

  17. I love serendipity! Congrats on being the recipient of such a kindness. Now the fun begins as you honor the gift by making beautiful things and figure out how to pay it forward. :- )

  18. Wow! What a generous lady! And what potential you have with this old house. I especially loved seeing the old paintings of the house.

  19. Visiting from Under the Table and Dreaming. WOW! An entire house to salvage. Very eciting but makes me sad at the same time the house couldn’t be saved. You are definitely in for quite an adventure.

  20. Wow! You must have made some kind of impression on Mary!! She could sell the jars alone for a small fortune. Have fun!!!

  21. wow…wow…wow! how awesome of an opportunity. can’t wait to see what you do with all that beautiful wood and treasures inside. it’s like being an american picker!

  22. Looking at the photos of the house, if you’re standing in front of it, I’m guessing the two-story section was attached to the left-hand side? I get the feeling the old section has been removed for a long time, since that left side of the house looks original, with roof overhangs and everything. Interesting post..

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