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Walking Tour: One Year Out, Smiles Abound At Our Home

July 31, 2020

I have commented numerous times over our dinner table that we can be most grateful that the purchase of the two top floors of our home took place last year.  Today is the one year anniversary of the signing.  With a pandemic raging, and the economy in flux trying to score the prize this year would have been extremely hard.

Last year every time we turned around there were numerous workers who for one reason or another spent hours (and even weeks in the case of the electricians) in our home.  With the need now for masks and self-distancing having bathrooms updated, new hot water heater and kitchen appliances installed, and insulation added there is no way the outcome would have been the same.  In addition, we furnished the second floor, and it took four people to lift and move the furniture inside.  There is no way any of that could be done now in a safe manner.

While the second floor remains without a renter due to the need for health safety during COVID-19 there is no shortage of smiles.  In fact, we have even allowed the idea of Martha Washington to take hold.  With a ‘summer kitchen’ for the heat to be somewhere other than in our personal quarters we often make dinner upstairs and then eat out on the balcony.  Unlike, Martha, however, we do not always have a Virginia ham on the table!  (If you have never been to Mount Vernon please make plans to tour the entire location.)

When digging around about the history of our home, it would seem that the house shares a common history with the one located next door.  That residence was built in 1885 for Mrs. Johanna Bartsch, widow of the late August Bartsch.  (Captain August Bartsch, born April 1, 1841, died August 17, 1873, has rested beneath a government marker at the Forest Hill Cemetery of Madison in Section: 29 Lot: 10 since the day of his passing.  He had served his country in the Civil War, having been a part of Co. G, 26th Wis. Inf.  Enlisted 8/11/1862, discharged 5/15/1865.)

Mrs. Bartsch apparently was related to the Baus family because when she moved to Madison ca. 1883 she lived with Sophia Baus, widow of Richard Baus, at her house nearby. Richard Baus, a cigar manufacturer, had recently died.  He probably left the business to Johanna, because in the 1883 city directory, she is listed as a cigar manufacturer and an Edward Baus, who also lived nearby, was the manager of her firm.  (After that date, however, there is no longer any mention of their business in the city directories).

In 1885, part of the family property was split and Johanna built a house for herself. For a while Walter Bartsch, a painter and probably her son, lived there, too.  In 1892 she built another house on the family property we now own.  A succession of residents at this home after that makes it appear that she used the older house as rental property.

Late at night this house might ‘creak’ and in the winter when it is super cold outside the sweaters are put on and the kitchen is the place where it is warm and toasty. James always makes this house a home.  This past year the third floor (not to be rented) is the place where rainstorms make for that intense sound on the roof and a window seat has become another favorite reading nook.

I take nothing for granted and am reminded each day why there are reasons to smile.  From the sun that might hit a wood floor a certain way that then lights up a room, or a bird nest that is angled perfectly to be viewed from a window, or the frost formations on a window, or the sound of the train heard on the balcony late at night.  It is all good.

I produced a ‘walking tour’ of the second and third floors of our home.  Welcome inside one year later………

 

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