It sits in an overgrown, abandoned lot just inside the town limits of Farmville, VA — the house we called home for more than 50 years ago.
While riding my Harley in Central Virginia recently, I suddenly felt a need to go to Farmville, the Prince Edward County town where we moved when my widowed mother remarried in 1956.
The large house that sat on a farm outside the town 54 years ago was a change from the apartment we lived in above Hoback’s Furniture Store in Floyd. It had a large yard, sat across U.S. 15 from a drive-in theater and was just a short bicycle to downtown Farmville.
I found the house empty when I visited Farmville in 2009 but now it is not only abandoned but wide open to the elements with holes in the walls, broken windows and other evidence of neglect and vandalism. The rooms that seemed so large to an eight-year-old now feel cramped.
I walked up the brick steps through the open front door into the living room we seldom used (a den in the back of the house was the family gathering point. Upstairs, the door to the crawl space where I built my first photographic dark room was two small for exploration by a 62-year old man with bad knees. Even with the damage, the house still appears solid and could be made livable with a little TLC.
I spent a little over an hour visiting the various rooms and exploring what’s left of the farm (most of the land is now a subdivision). A local Realtor tells me the land where the house sits was sold to a developer whose plans fell through because of the economy.
So the house sits empty, a decaying part of a past from a half-century ago. I fired up the Harley, headed south on U.S. 15 and turned west on U.S. 460, leaving Farmville and that part of my past behind.