The Farm House Journal

Volume 1: The Old Fashioned Way

[Volume 1 comprises the complete original edition of this Journal. It is presented here unchanged and unedited. It contains several factual errors that are corrected later in the narrative, but one that is never explicitly corrected is the date of construction. The Farm House was in fact built in 1885, not 1888 as stated in the following. We derived the later date from a second-hand research document assembled by a volunteer in a City survey of neighborhood properties, but we subsequently found the earlier date in the official tax records, which we consider far more authoritative. Please keep the 1885 date in mind when reading this volume.]


And the purple water flows uphillThe Farm House is our future home, a Victorian residence built in 1888 in suburban Pasadena, California. It will need a lot of work to make it liveable, but it's worth whatever amount of work it may take, for it and the plot of land upon which it sits represent a genuine, irreplaceable link to a simpler, more civilized time.

Walking amongst the Farm House grounds amongst the towering pines, the olive trees gnarled with age, and the old-fashioned hollyhocks growing wild, one gets an ineluctable feeling of permanence, of significance, of place that is a rare and precious thing for an Angeleno to find in his own back yard.

Because of our regular earthquakes, and the city's native propensity for constantly re-inventing itself, it is significant enough to find any structure that has survived in the Los Angeles area for 113 years. But what makes the Farm House especially remarkable is that it has persevered in the midst of great change with very little evident alteration. It doesn't take much imagination to picture the house as it stood when Grover Cleveland was in the White House.

It is this aura of timelessness, of dogged consistency in the face of great change, that instantly endeared the Farm House to my wife Lydia and me. It spoke to us of a time of great civility, of belief in things enduring, of high ideals and quiet confidence in the future. We knew right then and there that it had somehow fallen to us to make it once again a happy home, to ensure that it did not persevere in vain.

This is the story of the Farm House restoration, offered in the hope that it may prove instructive to those who find inspiration in fine old houses, and who may have one of their own they wish to restore. You can click on many of the pictures, the one above for example, to get a closer look. This story will grow as the restoration and our research progress, so I encourage you to visit these pages often, and to feel free to pass along any comments or questions you may have on anything contained herein. My e-mail address is

Table of Contents


Victorians And Their Homes

A Brief History of The Farm House

The House And Grounds

State of The House

The New Old Farm House

Forward Into The Past

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On to Volume II

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Text, title "The Farm House Journal", and original images in these pages copyright 1999 and 2004-2011 by Rob Spencer. All rights reserved.