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I can't make promises. But I may know of a house that could be available for someone willing to put in some sweat and TLC.

My mom inherited her old family home, on a large lot in a small college town in north Mississippi. It is livable as is, but it needs work.

Does anyone either:

(a) Want to live in it, possibly trading work on the house for rent or equity? Or--

(b) Know of a person or organization who would be interested in using it for some kind of similar arrangement? Perhaps to house the homeless, as a shelter for battered women, as a demo permaculture rehab? Anything?

Details below the orange cloud of opportunity.

A few years ago, my mom's last surviving sibling, my Aunt Libby, passed away. (She was a sweetheart.)

With Libby's passing, my mom became the sole owner of the home her family bought in 1938, when my mom was 7 years old. This is in a small college town in north Mississippi.

My brother and I spent many, many happy childhood days in this home, with our grandparents and Aunt Libby. Now Mom and all our immediate family live in Georgia, and none of us intends to return to Mississippi.

We're not sure how old the house is. My grandparents undertook a major rehab when they bought it in 1938; we think the work might have gone on as long as 2 years before they could move in. My grandfather selected the red oak trees to be cut down for the new floors. My cousin, a carpenter, tore off the whole roof structure and built a new roofline. This is a beautiful but modest house on a 1/3 acre lot that is partly shaded (at least one large, producing pecan tree) but has a large sunny area where my grandparents used to have a big vegetable garden.

I believe the old peach trees and grape vine near the garden are still producing.

It has a large south-facing front porch that could be glassed in for a great passive solar collector. The porch wraps around a little on the east side, where there was a porch swing on which my Aunt Libby used to sing me to sleep while the swing creaked, the adults talked, and the cicadas chirped.

Next to the east end of the porch is the biggest magnolia tree in town. My brother and I used to climb up high enough to see clear over the house.

The house now needs significant work. It has not been replumbed or rewired since about 1939. Heat is by unvented gas space heaters. Cooling is by two old but surprisingly effective window unit ACs. The beautiful wallpaper my grandmother selected around 1939 is peeling off. It probably needs a new roof PDQ.

The floor plan is a variation of the classic southern home with a large hallway down the center. On the left (west) side of the hallway are, front to back, a living room; a dining room; and a pantry. On the right (east) side are, front to back, a bedroom; a room that served as both my grandparents' bedroom and the den where we customarily gathered to talk and watch Lawrence Welk, and where we watched Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon; and another bedroom. Across the back is a large eat-in kitchen. At the back end of the hallway, approximately in the center of the house, is the only bathroom.

The main floor has high ceilings with transom windows over most interior doors.

The upstairs has one finished room in the center, but that room has no windows and is best used as storage. There is one second-floor window, in the south-facing gable on the front, but it opens into unfinished attic space. It could be finished for a nice gabled room.

The house is in an old, established neighborhood that's an easy walk to downtown. Unfortunately the old shops in downtown have been killed off by the Walmart out on the highway. There are still some lawyers' offices, a drug store, and a hamburger joint downtown, kept alive by the courthouse business. (The town is the county seat.)

There is a small state college in town. No, this is not Oxford. The house is 1 mile from the center of campus.

Mom has had the house listed for sale with a local real estate agent for a couple years, with no serious inquiries. The real estate agent's listing contract is up for renewal; Mom's not sure what to do.

I would love to see this old home put to some productive use. I believe if Mom simply gives the house away, that would disqualify her for Medicaid for several years, which she should not risk.

Would anyone like to live in it, and trade work for rent or sweat equity?

Does anyone know of an organization that could use the home--to house the homeless, as a shelter for battered women, as a demo permaculture rehab? Anything?

A final note Kossacks will appreciate. In the early 1930s my mom's family lived just outside of town, about 30 miles from Tupelo. Tupelo was the first city to get electricity from the TVA. FDR came to Tupelo to give a speech to celebrate. My mom still remembers my grandfather taking her to Tupelo to see FDR, hoisting her up on his shoulders so she could see above the crowd. Awhile back I ran across the text of FDR's speech that day--it was a week before my mom's third birthday.

Damn right she's still a Democrat. Damn right she votes in every election.

Any takers on the house will receive Aunt Libby's recipe for lemon icebox pie. Mmmmmmmm.

Originally posted to HeyMikey on Wed Aug 07, 2013 at 11:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Sustainable Senior Living.


Is there any pie better than Aunt Libby's lemon icebox pie?

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