Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Monday, April 6, 2009

Getting Financially Creative With Home Projects

I almost done with one project I started around This Old House last summer, now I am looking for another. I do some of my best thinking when working with my hands on something for us. Painting walls is something that most people hate. I like it. I don't know why, but maybe it's the immediate satisfaction of seeing the before and after evolve in front of my eyes.

This year I have narrowed down the choices to building a walkway from the driveway to the back door, and maybe a patio off the walkway, or building a shed. Most importantly, it has to be done in the most cost effective way considering the state of economy. My economy.

I need to get creative.

Every home needs a shed. The garage can only take so much of the storage load, if you are lucky enough to have one. If you don't have a garage, then a shed is a must have.

You can buy a great shed for a couple thousand bucks. Reeds Ferry is a great place to buy pre-built sheds, and have them delivered right to the spot you've chosen in the yard, but if you would rather build it from scratch, then expect to spend the summer doing it if you want it done right, and built to last. You will save a bundle of money. Saving money is what it is all about this summer. I want to take a nice vacation with Mary, too, so a little pre-planning will go a long ways.

This whole idea of building a shed got me to thinking about the history of sheds. Back when Sturbridge was first settled folks built very small houses, and barns for their animals. Eventually those barns got bigger as people began to own more animals, and store more things like hay, and tools. House size didn't catch up to barn size for quite awhile. Then, sometime later, there was the start of out buildings. Not exactly a barn, but just another place to store things, and to give more barn space over to the animals. Once barn size began to stabilize, house size began to increase. The farm was getting bigger, and the family grew to meet the needs of running it.

In the beginning of the 20th century another building was being built on the land, the garage. At first all it was space taken up inside of the family barn, or an under used out building, but eventually buildings were built just for the purpose of housing the new family automobile.

The detached garage was usually a single bay affair, occasionally a double bay, and was set behind the house with a driveway running to it from the street. The driveways were usually dirt, or just two strips of poured concrete for the cars wheels to roll on.

It was during this time that most houses no longer had a barn, just a garage, and, of course, a place was needed to store all that stuff needed in the yard like rakes, shovels and the lawnmower. In the 1950's when the attached garage became all the rage, the also took on the dual role of car, and stuff storage. It was around the late 1950's that out buildings began to be needed again.

First they were built by hand, then Sears sold the classic aluminum sheds with the sliding doors that were guaranteed to work for only one season. Those aluminum sheds dotted the American landscape for a couple of decades, and still do. As time moved on one could buy pre-built wooden sheds at the home & garden center, or build an out building.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the years may have changed, but as homeowners in Sturbridge we really haven't. Everything moves in a circle. If I do decide to go with the "Build-A-Shed" project this year it will be like stepping back in time, sort of a heritage project.

I'll draw up some plans, pull a permit, and if I do this right, I may qualify for a grant.

Now, if I can somehow show the new walkway to be a partial restoration of the old Bay Path I could be sittin' pretty.


  1. Hey Wally, did you know that I operated my own painting and paperhanging business from 1979 until 1999? You should be really proud of the work you are doing! I love Sturbridge, in fact on Mother's Day in 1999 my sister Janet asked me to be Godmother to her first child when we were at a restaurant in Sturbridge. Of course I said YES and my Godson is almost 20 now and attending University in his sophomore year!

  2. Hi Wally. Thanks for the shout-out for Reeds Ferry. We install a lot of sheds in the Sturbridge area; it's such a beautiful part of the state... You're right. We don't claim a skilled individual couldn't build a nice shed on their own, but as you said it will take them a good deal of time. One of our biggest selling-points is we get to your house at 9am and the shed is completed by 11:30am. It goes like an Amish barn raising ;) We're the call to make if you'd rather go golfing. Hope all is well. Take care...

  3. HI Reeds Ferry! We finally bought the shed lasrt summer! Well worth the wait, and it performed well over the endless winter of 2015. Thanks for writing!


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