Old Floor Plans

by JL Beeken on 12-11-2009

Google EarthI’m on a search for old floor plans from my past and, coincidentally, someone came looking on this site today for “how to see inside my house with Google Earth”. That’s pretty funny.

I’ve spent all my free time the past week trying to extract every last possible floor plan out of my aged relatives. There aren’t that many of them left. And when they go they’re taking the floor plans with them.

There’s a big rambling house where I lived right after I was born and brought home from the hospital. According to Google Earth it’s still standing and, until recently, was still showing the red cobblestone street out front. All the houses on the other side of the street are gone. I wrote to a local newspaper to find out why. They promised to investigate but never wrote back.

Over the past few years, I’ve spent countless hours staring at the satellite view of the roofs on that block and comparing them to numerous photos trying to decide which one was ours. Google Maps is always off by a few houses one way or the other. Sometimes the pin ends up in the middle of the street. With help from the old photos, I managed to nail it down to being the third from the corner. (Aged relative concurs.)

We lived in half of the house and my parents divided the other half into 2 apartments to help pay the mortgage. Our side had two fireplaces which aged relative says were never used. In this freezing cold North American winter we’re having I’d sure like to use one now.

After I started going GPS-wild with Photo Mechanic I became obsessed with one small batch of old photos. And since Photo Mechanic offers a window for constructing email messages, I was off to the races.

I could have sworn (from my Age 3 memories) there was a side door into the house from the driveway, so the conversation started going like this:

“Did my father knock a hole in the side of the house after this picture was taken?”

Aged relative: “There was no side door. There was a back door.”

” I know there was a side door because it went straight across the kitchen to the pantry.”

Aged relative: “I’ll have to think about that for awhile; I don’t remember a pantry.”

There goes my clearest pre-school memory right out the window. I was going to the pantry to swipe some jelly-beans. I remember it like it happened yesterday.

All these years I thought our house had dark shingles. This was obviously due to a complete lack of attention. There’s another house that often shows up in the photos that has light-colored siding. There are photos with my family posing in front of light-colored siding. There are photos with our car parked near light-colored siding. There are photos of my sister and I walking down a sidewalk next to that light-colored siding. But, for some reason, I had decided the house with the dark shingles that shows up as the backdrop in a few other photos was ours. Over the years I’d grown quite attached to it.

I could swear the ‘grand staircase’ went up the middle of our house off the dining room. Nope, apparently it didn’t. It went up from the main entrance. But, it couldn’t have because my grandmother’s bedroom was at the front of the house. Which by the way, had a bay window. According to the photos, no it didn’t. And on we go…

The only part I got right so far is that the ironing board was in the dining-room parallel to the driveway. Maybe I remember that because one day I decided to iron a chiffon dress and burnt the sleeves off it.

Aged relative is working on a sketch of the floor plan. I’m hoping to receive it before she dies. Otherwise I’ll have to wait for Google to see inside houses.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Finn S Hansen 12-11-2009 at 8:10 AM

Have you tried maps/bing.com? In some areas they have a “bird’s eye view” which you can look at all fours sides of the house.

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JL 12-11-2009 at 12:30 PM

A-mazing! It puts Google Maps to shame. From Bing Maps, a shot of where I went to elementary school, complete with football field out the back (for the older kids).

School

Back in the day, the parking lot on the left was a playground. The entire length from the road to the wing at the far end was swings, teeter-totters, jungle gyms and bike-racks. There was room for hop-scotch, skipping ropes and plain old hanging out.

The swings had canvas bucket seats, high frames and long chains. You could swing to the Moon. I’ve never sat on a swing that good since.

Remember I told you back in My Country ‘Tis of Thee how I couldn’t remember where I went to Kindergarten? Well, I found it the other day on Google Maps because I remembered a story related to it.

I only went to school in the mornings and then I would walk home for lunch. One day I decided I just had to take a close-up look at something so I walked the long way home. It wasn’t enough to have seen this intersection through a car window; I wanted to walk all around it and understand the reasons for its unusual construction. My mother was worried sick when I didn’t come home on time and boy, was she ever mad when I did!

Intersection

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