Three months ago, my family and I moved to 752 East Gorham Street, also known as the William T. Leitch House, informally known by locals as the Harman House, and now operating again as The Livingston Inn. With its four grand guest rooms, it is quite amazing to see the transformation of our B&B since we moved across the isthmus over Memorial Day weekend.
I will never forget our first night at the house. Sometimes a real estate transaction doesn’t go exactly as you plan, and ours was a textbook example. Despite our months of preparation and against our wishes, we closed and moved on the same day, which was already a busy moving day across Madison. I unloaded a truck well past midnight, put my head on a pillow at 3 am, and despite physical exhaustion, couldn’t fall asleep for another hour.
I have to say the feeling I had was far from excitement. It was a lot more like risk-taking gone horribly wrong. In addition to the hectic moving schedule, we arrived at a place that we knew in advance needed some work but discovered it required even more. I wouldn’t say it was a disaster, but the house needed heavy-duty TLC. Despite all the challenges, I was awake the next morning at 5:30am and back at it with very devoted family and friends for another day of moving. If anything, I learned it’s quite remarkable what the human body and mind can accomplish.
Over the course of the next four weeks, what our friends and family members did for us was nothing short of amazing. Some cleaned areas that hadn’t been touched in years while others worked in the garden in blazing 90-degree heat. Everyone found their role or niche and stuck to the task until it was done. We were humbled by everyone’s hard work and dedication, all the while enjoying each other’s company and discovering a beautiful house.
A house has a personality in my opinion. Most homebuyers understand this because of the intuition or feeling they experience when going through a house. My wife and I always had a great feeling about 752 East Gorham Street, but when I first moved in, I have to say it sort of felt like moving in with a new roommate. There was a bit of awkwardness as to whether we would get along and if this would work out okay. In my solitary moments working to get ready for opening day, I would sort of “talk” to our house, thinking about its past 150-plus years and whether it would accept us as new owners. To me, the house at first felt sad, maybe angry, because of what it had become. It seemed to need some time to trust us and embrace our family and the future we planned.
Three months later what I’ve discovered is this: the house likes us and we like the house. With all the cleaning, fixing, and updating, the William T. Leitch House came to believe in what we were doing and welcomed a new era in its history. This beautiful Gothic-revival mansion seems to stand taller on the corner. In the back garden, it feels like it has opened its arms and shown us a serene vista of the lake. Walking through the stunning rooms and halls, I feel comfort and warmth everywhere. This didn’t happen only because an army of people worked tirelessly in many ways. It happened because a history of people, events, community, and a special historic home in Madison wanted it to become something better and to shine again.
Although clichéd, it is true what they say at the Academy Awards. I can’t thank everyone individually who made our dream possible. The list would be too long and extend beyond to many other relationships. Suffice it to say, if you are one of the people who played a part to bring The Livingston Inn back to life, I hope I have expressed my gratitude already, and if not, someday we will exchange a glance of understanding for what we accomplished. I might simply say “thank you” or maybe we’ll just stand together in the William T. Leitch House, sometimes known locally as the Harman House, and today operating as The Livingston Inn, and sense something good has happened here.
Welcome everyone to our bed & breakfast!