Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Aroma of Yesterday.

I love an old building. I love its look, I love its history, I love its aura, I especially love its smell.

You can walk into an old building and stand for a moment with your eyes closed and hear the memories chasing each other down the halls. You can sense the spirits of the lives that were lived within those walls and if you stand still long enough, you might even be able catch a scent of the aroma of yesterday.

Our modern brand spankin’ new buildings can never, ever measure up to those grand buildings which were first given life a century or two ago.

Much to my delight, we were recently invited to a birthday party held in a rather famous old building on the island. It’s in the fishing village of Wanchese and used to serve as the town’s only school. (The building is over 100 years old and is now used as the town’s Community Center.)

I was delighted to find that several of the people in attendance at the meal actually attended the school over sixty years ago. What fun to hear their memories!

Once we arrived, I was so entranced with the surroundings that I almost forgot all about eating.


This is the school auditorium. Obviously, the padded seats are not original to the building but everything else is.


I can just imagine how many feet—big and little—have crossed this stage over the years. I love to think about the songs that were sung, the speeches given, the poems recited, and the dramas enacted. A few people have stood on this stage and brought down the house with their great talent and charisma. Others have stood up here and wished the house would fall down around them because they forgot their lines or because their voice squeaked at an inopportune moment.

The scent of dreams--both filled and unfulfilled--filled the air.


I looked across the footlights and saw my own dream come true.


I especially loved the wooden floors. They reminded me of myself and so many other people—scarred but lovely.


The view from the back.


Huge, grand windows.



It’s hard to calculate how many people beneath this sky have come and gone from this sweet, old building.


I am thankful I got to be one of them.

6 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

lesley said...

There's nothing quite like the silence in an old building. It is so full!

Sue G said...

I particularly like the extra-wide seats in the auditorium! Theater seats are always so uncomfortable for, um, us extra wide people.

A town with foresight. Gotta love it.

MaryH said...

I live in an older home with the well worn wooden floors and the small staircase and big front porch - I often wonder what the view was like from that front porch or the bay window in the dining room when it was first built. I wonder how many children avoided the certain squeaky spot on the stairs and what games were played in the upstairs bedrooms.

Anne said...

I can really relate to this post! We live in an old farmhouse circa 1852. It has been on the market for a while...most folks absolutely love it. (So far not enough to make us an offer but at least they appreciate it!) Others will comment that the floors are worn. Yes, they are! Pioneers have walked these floors. You can just close your eyes and feel the history...

Melissa said...

I love old things! I collect old quilts and vintage clothing because I love the smell of old fabric. I love old buildings and 'old wood' smells. I collect old daguerreotype photos and I even open the cases on them and sniff! Like smelling all the years gone by!

Becky, UK said...

If you love historic buildings, you really should come to the UK at some point - where I live in what we call 'the Midlands', there are settlements dating back to the bronze age - the town I live in is one such area, and we have a church from the 13th century, a market house from the 16th century and residential houses ranging from pre-Victorian to modern new builds (more info here:,_Northamptonshire if you're interested).

I agree, when you visit old buildings, the silence is full of people gone by. I was sightseeing in London last week (although I have lived in the UK all my life, I've never really been a fan of London as I don't like the congestion and bustle, I'm a country girl at heart) and we visited the Tower of London and the chapel inside where Ann Boleyn is interred - the silence inside there almost pulsated with history. It's amazing to think of all the comings and goings of people, their deeds and misdeeds and how it has affected others.