House Comes Home

Our road trip adventure continues...and the Citadel is on its way home.

We are now headed back to NJ, and are in Pittsburgh for the night. I am still digesting everything that has taken place this week. I (kind of) still cannot believe that we have driven hundreds of miles for a (small) house. We've had fun, though, and I have to say the drive really has not been all that bad. We got a flat tire right outside of Indianapolis, but it was quickly fixed, despite my six year old's prediction of "We're doomed and we will die!!!"

We arrived in Chicago on Tuesday, and picked up the Citadel on Wednesday from the Ebay seller. My sister-in-law came with me for the ride, a short distance from the city center. The house was pretty true to the photos (yes, wallpaper and flooring are as ugly as the pics from the listing), and it was great to finally see it. My sister-in-law could not get over the size, especially the side with the rounded terrace. We carefully transported it to the back of the minivan. I don't think I breathed the entire time I was carrying it. The sellers were trying to be helpful, but really did not want to touch it, in case something broke off. Here's what it looked like right after we put it in the back of the car:

We situated the house, cushioned it and carefully drove back to the city. I was at first scared to drive over 40, but then got more comfortable -- the house is pretty sturdy. When my DH saw it, he said it looked bigger than he thought it would be, but that we'd be able to fit all our luggage around it. My six year old is squished next to it. He has taken to balancing his Legos on the terrace, but I feel I can't really say no.

On Thursday, I went to Lolly's, the store in Elgin, IL, that created the kit for the house. I met the owner, Janet ("Lolly"), who was incredibly helpful and spent close to two hours with me. I walked in and told her I had a Citadel in the back of the car. She didn't bat an eye. She said "OK, let's have a look at it." We took it out of the car into her workshop, where we investigated the whole house. Here's what I learned:

* It is definitely an authentic Citadel.

* It is not clear whether or the house was built by Lolly's or by the owner of the house. Lolly thought that they might have built it, but the owner did the electrical wiring (yes, the house is fully wired).

* In her opinion, the house is in really good condition, very solid and well built. No warping, etc.

* She also thought that (unfortunately) the house was owned by a heavy smoker, as one of the hinged doors is yellowed, and the inside smelled of smoke (she's a former smoker, so was pretty convinced of this).

* Not much structurally needs to be repaired. The side terrace needs to be re-glued, and some trims reinforced or re-glued. Some plexi might need to be glued or replaced. The yellowed hinged door needs to be repainted. Two of the three main stairwells need to be put back into the central portion of the house. The inside needs a good cleaning with water and bleach.

* Only one side of the house has working electrical. She tested the other wires as best as she could, but could not find the faulty line. For whatever reason, the owner ran some of the wiring along the floors, instead of along the ceiling or walls. The owner also folded wires instead of pinning them, which is less reliable for good connections. So, I have a wiring challenge!

* Luckily, the ugly velour flooring came right off (no glue at all), since a lot of wiring is on the floor. We started to pull some of the wallpaper off, and it looks like it will be relatively easy. Lolly let me know that three small sections of the house will need custom wallpaper, since they are larger than the standard.

* The only furniture that came with the house were some kitchen items. Lolly said these were custom items built by the store. They are actually pretty neutral, so I'll put them to some use.

* Lolly gave me some great tips for correcting these issues -- Dif to take off wallpaper; Kilz to take out the smell in paint; techniques and tools for re-wiring; Aleene's Tacky Glue for all gluing; and more.

Another highlight was getting to see the first Citadel ever built. Lolly's Mom designed the house. I asked about whether or not they would do kits again, and she said likely not. If they did anything, they would sell the house built. Apparently, it was very difficult to find a manufacturer to produce the materials, especially for the wood version of the house (they only did wood or stucco). They moved the house to a top shelf in the store, so I was only able to get a few worm's eye view pics:

I held up my camera for that interior shot. Check out the hot tub up on the top terrace:

So, feeling a bit daunted but energized by the prospect of bringing the house back into shape. Lots to learn, lots to do...!