The answers, of course, are yes, no, and yes. But there is a deeper reason.
I love old buildings, old portraits, and old furniture because of this:
Yes, that's the childhood home. It's been in our family since the 1700's, when my great great great great great grandfather bought it from Thomas Penn. Apparently young Thomas inherited his Pop's stake in Penn's Woods (along with his brothers) when William passed in 1720.
My brother owns the house now, and--to assert that it was his house and not Dad's anymore--he just removed the plaster and re-pointed the house in June. When I was a kid, the house was white plaster with black shutters. I was afraid that the hidden stone would be ugly (Why would someone have covered it with plaster? I asked my brother more than once as he planned the project). I was wrong, obviously. The stone is beautiful.
The inside is even better: the house boasts
- drawers built into the front windowsills (so the lady of the house could pay the help without actually having to stand on the porch with those lowly ne'er do wells)
- hand graining (if you look closely at the wood grain in some rooms you can find rabbits and ducks and other little critters), and
- a fireplace built with a stone from every county in Pennsylvania (my great great grandfather got around quite a bit while his wife was in Europe. Ahem).
My room was in the "back" of the house, facing the driveway and the old barn. I wallpapered it myself around 1979, and I rearranged the furniture as often as I used to apply pimple cream.
And that's why I am the way that I am.
Please tip your docent on the way out.