Ashley is a veteran classroom educator who has been teaching in New York City classrooms and museums for over a decade. A public historian, licensed New York City tour guide, and writer based in Brooklyn, she is endlessly passionate about the connection between literacy, history, and art. She utilizes the inquiry model to generate student curiosity and engagement both in the classroom and in museum galleries.
The Joy of Old Things with Ashley Semrick
In this episode, Ashley and I talk about our love for history and its relevance in society today. We explore the history and stories held in objects, and how anyone can get started doing historical research about any topic that interests them. We especially focus on teaching history to young people and getting them excited about digging into the past as a way to understand the world around us.
Topics discussed in this episode:
– The complexity and necessity of joy in difficult times, and how to find it and create it
– How and why to teach history to young people
– How to conduct historical research about any topic of interest
– The important role of museums, media, and cemeteries in historical research
– Ashley shares how her parents sparked her love of history at a young age
– How Ashley found and returned a 100+ year old diary to the family of the man who wrote it
– The joy of found objects and discovering the history behind them
– NYC’s Sanitation Museum—a collection of found objects curated by a NYC Department of Sanitation worker who collected items that New Yorkers threw out for 30+ years
Links to resources:
Don’t Hesitate by Mary Oliver
How to become a licensed tour guide for the City of New York
NYC’s Sanitation Museum
Merchant House Museum
The Lenape in New York
Ask a physicist to speak at your funeral
Diker Indigenous art collection
Cheap Old Houses
Ashley on Instagram – @HelloSemrick
Ashley’s website – HelloSemrick.com
Christa on Twitter – @christanyc
Christa on Instagram – @christarosenyc
Christa’s website – ChristaAvampato.com
The Joy of Old Things with Ashley Semrick
Tuesday, May 3, 2022 • 32:23 – This transcript has been edited for clarity
people, objects, history, joy, cemeteries, story, diary, photo, talking, museum, lives, world, headstones, years, house, lived, thought, experiencing, curious
Ashley Semrick, Christa Avampato
Christa Avampato 00:00
Hi everyone! It’s our first episode of the JoyProject! Ah! We’re here. We made it. I’m pumped to get this started and to begin bringing more joy into your ears and into your lives.
When I decided to start this podcast, I knew exactly who I wanted to be the first guest. She’s someone who personifies joy. She’s a dear friend of mine. One of my adventure buddies. A public historian. A teacher. A writer. And a beautiful human, inside and out. We spend a lot of time talking about joy and she’s an absolute delight.
Without further ado, I’m excited for you to meet Ashley Semrick.
Christa Avampato 00:41
Ashley, welcome to the JoyProject.
Ashley Semrick 00:43
Thank you, Christa. I’m super happy to be here. I can’t wait to talk about what brings me joy. But it took me a while to narrow down. Dogs, the smell of rain, sunsets, Mexican food, tacos, all these things.
Christa Avampato 00:56
Even though our world is on fire, there are still things to be joyful about.
You sent me a quote from a poem by the beloved Mary Oliver, who’s one of our favorites. The poem is called Don’t Hesitate. The last line in the poem is, “Joy is not made to be a crumb.” And that we are not to take those crumbs off the table that fall down for us, but that we are to have joy in abundance and to go out and seek it. And to make it.
Joy feels like a privilege sometimes, especially when we’re going through a difficult time or somebody we know is going through a difficult time. Is that ever something you have to reconcile?
Ashley Semrick 01:37
That’s an excellent question. Part of the human condition is that we’re never just one thing, right? We’re never just one thing. It’s not that easy. We can simultaneously be several different things. And those can be in conflict with each other. But that’s just the beauty and the messiness of being a human. I think of things that people would hold most sacred and dear, that are beautiful to them. Their religion, or their family members or their pets. At the same time, they can be fiercely fighting for justice in a messy, unfriendly world. And so I think joy is complex, just like life is complex. It’s okay to feel more than one thing. I often tell that to my students when they’re working through conflict that we have space for more than one feeling. And one of those feelings can be joy. When we’re talking about history, oftentimes, we’re talking about really heavy subjects and people who have dealt with loss or oppression. One of my goals as a history teacher of young people is to always make sure that we look at all sides of the story, including what joy these people might have felt. At the same time that they were maybe experiencing oppression, they could have been creating beautiful art. We’re complex humans.
Christa Avampato 02:51
Joy is what keeps me going through difficult times. It’s how I get back up.
Ashley Semrick 02:58
Oftentimes, joy can be confused with naivete. There’s people who challenged that in a moment of turmoil, how can we still try to find joy? How can you be so positive in such a rough time? And I think any of us who practice mindfulness know that finding joy is a practice that you have to always be on the lookout for it, because that’s what keeps you buoyed in a moment of crisis.
One of my quick meditations that I do, literally every day is, is I ask myself, “what color is the sky?” I stop and notice the color of the sky. And sometimes it’s glorious, and sometimes it’s gray, or purple and quiet. And that’s just a centering, joyful moment for me. Because then something’s going to happen. A bird is gonna fly by or something joyful will catch my attention.
Christa Avampato 03:39
I love that idea of joy being a muscle, something that you have to practice, something that doesn’t always come easy to us. Especially at certain times in our lives and in certain seasons. I was taking a yoga class this morning, and my yoga teacher said, “The problem with life is that we think there should be no problems.” That hit me so hard. Especially over the last couple of years, I have asked myself, “Why is our world having to go through this? It shouldn’t be like this.”
Ashley Semrick 04:20
That reminds me of Fred Rogers. When the worst things are happening, look for the people who are helping. Look for the helpers. Again, that could be seen as some as a naive way to go about problem solving or dealing with rough stuff. But I don’t know. I think that there’s joy in that. There’s joy in noticing the helpers.
Christa Avampato 03:56
I also want to get back to you talking about being a history teacher of young people. I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about your work and where you live and where you’re joining us from.
Ashley Semrick 04:46
I grew up in California. I lived there for the first 24 years of my life. Then I began a series of living in major cities in the United States. After that I went to grad school in Chicago, which was wonderful. Then I moved to Washington, DC and did grad school there for a little while. Then I ended up in Brooklyn, New York, where I’ve been for the past 15 years. And I feel like I’m a real New Yorker now. And I’ve lived in the same apartment for over 12 years, which is the longest duration I’ve ever called a dwelling home. So in some ways, I feel really attached to my space in Brooklyn.
But ironically, I’m joining you not from any of those places. I’m joining you from Northampton, Massachusetts, which is in Western Massachusetts, tucked in the Happy Valley as they call it, and today it’s a really misty, gloomy day outside and it makes the New England church steeples and the naked trees, all very picturesque.
I am a fourth grade teacher, and I’ve been a fourth grade teacher for over 12 years. My favorite thing about working with young people is their inherent curiosity. Just nonstop curiosity. They’re not afraid to ask questions. Being around children who are curious is amazing. Fourth graders are 9 and 10 years old. And they’re at this age where they’re really learning to grapple with what it means to be developing into your own person.
So a lot of times when you’re reading fourth grade literature, as you know, you’re someone who writes for this age, you’re dealing with kids who are experiencing what it means to be away from their parents and taking on a world on their own. And there’s a reason why those themes come up a lot in kid literature—because they’re starting to understand big world themes. And they’re starting to understand what time is.
We, as adults, hold these concrete things like time pretty well. We can make sense of them. But for children, it is really abstract. And fourth grade is a time where they start to be curious about history and what history means. And I delight in talking about history with them and showing them how to ask questions or find resources.
When I’m not teaching young people, I do lectures for adults on history. And also like you, Christa, I am a licensed tour guide for the City of New York, which people might be interested to know about. We had to take a very difficult, very long test that was like three hours long, 200 questions. And it was all about the history of our city, and secret stories. And also really strange things like where you can and can’t park your tour bus.
Talking to other people about history and the past is my joy. And helping people understand that everything has a history, everyone has a history. I see it as one of my challenges in life to help everyone connect to something interesting, something that’s interesting to them from the past. Because one of my deepest feelings as an educator is that engagement and curiosity is what lead to the best learning.
Christa Avampato 07:59
I love how many things bring you joy and how you delight in them, and the mindfulness of it and the practice of it. For this episode, I’m wondering what’s something specifically that you want to talk about. Ashley, what brings you joy?
Ashley Semrick 08:32
I thought hard about how to say this, but I think I’m just gonna say it simply: old things bring me joy.
Photographs. Cobblestone roads. Cemeteries. Buildings. Stories of people that we might not even know yet. I can’t look at an object, especially like an object in a museum or an antique store, without wondering, “Who made this? Who held this? Who used this? Who cared for this? Who gave this away?” All of those questions pop into my mind. And sometimes it’s just a mystery, and you’re never going to know. But as you said, it is a practice and mindfulness habit of sort of interrogating what stories can this object tell. Who touched these bricks? Who painted this wall 200 years ago, you know, and I sometimes find incredible mundane objects.
I’m going to pause briefly to say that this story connects to the whole reason why I think I love old things in history is, like so many people, I grew up with it. My dad is a lover of antiques and still obsessively collects things and sends them to me. And my mother was a hobby historian and a genealogist. I grew up knowing the stories of my past and when my immigrant family members had come over, and all of that sort of thing. And by the age of 10, I could tell you if a Victorian house had colors that were historically accurate because my mother was an artist, and liked that kind of thing.
But when I was about 11, my dad, in some box of objects he got from an auction, gave me a diary from 1902. It was a composition book. And it was started on January 1, and it ended on December 31. And it was the handwriting was so hard to read, but I powered through and it was just a diary. A very straightforward, “Today I did this today. We saw these people today. We went to church today. We cleaned the house.” Nothing extreme. It was cool. It was old, and I was drawn to it. And my 11 year old historian self was like, “Oh, it’s in Saginaw, Michigan. I don’t know anything about Michigan. This is interesting.”
And then the diary disappeared and I thought of it a few years ago and wondered where it went, that notebook. This past fall, I was in California again, cleaning out my parents’ house. The diary had somehow made its way to my mom’s collection of stuff. And I found it as I was cleaning out her art room. So I brought it home. And on a whim, I read it again. And I thought, you know, I wonder who this guy was. I went to the place of all good things, the internet, and did a little sleuthing. And lo and behold, I found him on ancestry.com.
And the more I read, the more it linked me to some primary sources. And I found a newspaper article, and this young man passed away six years after writing this diary. Very young, he was caught by a sudden terminal illness that just took him like that. He never married. He never had children. And I was just blown away by it. And I thought, “Oh, here’s his family tree.” I reached out to a young woman who was in his family tree, and I said, “Hey, I think I found an artifact that belonged to one of your family members. Let me know if you would like to like to see it.”
Months went by. She didn’t answer and I kind of forgot about it. Yesterday, I saw that she had sent me a message. She said, “Yes, that is a relative in my family. He died so young, and we didn’t have anything that he left behind.”
And I was like, “Well, I have his diary from 1902. And he wrote every day, and I’m happy to send it to you.” I’m waiting to hear back from her now. I just think how much of a story is contained in this one, very straightforward diary that holds someone’s entire life for a year. Now his family has this artifact that just gives them a little bit more information about him.
Christa Avampato 12:39
I love that story for so many reasons. One that you were like, “I wonder what happened to that diary.” And then it happened to be in your mom’s home. Your dad got it at an auction where it sounds like he bought just a box of random stuff. You’ve sent me pictures of your dad’s many collections.
Ashley Semrick 12:54
My dad. He has things like a Maasai warrior lion killing ceremonial spear. I’m like, “That’s great. Dad, I love that for you.”
Christa Avampato 13:02
Your story also highlights the value of media, and auctions, and making artifacts available to the public.
Ashley Semrick 13:43
It brings such humanity to someone who was just a name on a document before. Being able to have access to media to do research is so important. And again, I have to credit my parents here. When I was a little girl, I was a Girl Scout. And my mother was the troop leader. And a hobby historian. I remember one of our Girls Scout Troop trips was to the local cemetery to do headstone rubbings. Cemeteries are, in a sense, public history, right? They help people learn about the past of a place. So we go to the Clovis California Cemetery. Here are in our little green uniforms, and our sashes, and going around rubbing headstones.
And we come across this very large headstone that had the pictures of six children on it, and all the children had perished on the same day, in the 1960s. And this was my first research mission with my mom. My mom was like, we’re going to take some rubbings, and take this information, and we’re going to research it, and I had no idea what you could even do.
Now, this is the 80s. There was no internet for us to use. We went to the public library, and we pulled up microfiche, and my mom showed me how to use microfiche and look through past dated newspapers. And so we took the death date of the children. We used that as our jumping off point. We pulled it up, and lo and behold, these six children were all killed in a house fire and it was a huge deal.
And I remember just being blown away that we found the answer to this mystery. And I think that that was definitely a gateway drug into exploring stories of people who couldn’t tell their own stories anymore.
Coda to that many, many years later, I would say in the late 90s, early 2000s, the newspaper in my hometown did a huge piece revisiting that story and what had happened to this family.
Christa Avampato 15:35
I was also a Girl Scout. My mom was also our troop leader. We did not go to cemeteries. But as you and I have talked about many times, we both have a great passion and love for cemeteries. I think they are places of peace. Many times they tend to be the only green place in a neighborhood, which I think is really important. The honor that they illustrate is fascinating. I often will take names from headstones and use them in stories to honor people.
I grew up in the Hudson Valley of New York. We have lots of old Revolutionary War cemeteries up there. The cemetery where my dad is buried has a very, very old section that has pre-Revolutionary War headstones. I grew up in a military town. Memorial Day was a really big deal. Veterans Day was a really big deal. Most of the people had served in the military in some way or their family members had served in the military in some way. I grew up knowing that it was always so important to honor people who made it possible for us to exist. And for us to be here and have the lives that we have. The freedoms we have.
I also know that you’re a big found object person.
Ashley Semrick 16:55
I really do love old photographs, and specifically photographs from the 19th century or the early 20th century.
If someone 100 years from now just saw our picture and didn’t know anything else about us, I wonder what they would assume about us. And so I often keep that in mind when I’m looking at photos. We search for these clues of facial expression. And we also know that that might not be the whole story or the truth.
I have a beautiful photo. It’s called a cabinet card when you have an older photo like from the 19th century and it’s mounted on some cardboard to give it some thickness and usually the photographer’s name is sort of embossed at the bottom. And I have this beautiful photo of a little girl and she’s sort of haunting looking and she’s holding a doll and on the back in quill pen is written in a very childhood scrawl, “Agnes”. So she definitely wrote her own name, I assume. But I found it in an antique store in Red Wing, Minnesota. And as I picked it up and walked to the counter with a handful of other wonderful old photos. The woman behind the counter says, “Oh, you’re taking Agnes!” And I was like, “Yeah, I love Agnes. And she says, “I’m pretty sure her ghost comes with the photo.” Agnes has not paid me a visit that I know of. But she sits on my mantel looking charming.
So I do love found objects. I love to stand in the museum and look at things and think of how they got there. Who brought them. If there’s someone I can’t see whose energy is next to me and telling me that they used to use that object. I just I think, you know, there’s the wonderful physics idea that energy never dies, right? Who am I to say that the owner of the object isn’t observing.
I volunteer in a historic house—Manhattan’s most haunted home. I have never personally experienced anything spooky there. But the Merchant House Museum has been around since the early 1800s. One family lived there for 100 years. Gertrude, the youngest daughter was born and died there. She passed away in 1930. So she lived there for the entirety of her life. Much of the furniture in the house belonged to the family. It is landmarked inside and out. It’s a really special place. When I’m there working, I’m often alone on a floor all to myself or wandering around, and I talk to them. This is Gertrude’s bed. She slept here her entire life. I often will just thank whoever’s in the house. Thanks for letting me be here. Hope everyone’s having a good day. I look at the objects in the house and I think these were used at Christmas time. These were used in celebration. This is a couch where someone fell asleep, all the things that we do, just our everyday lives are held within these historic objects. And it makes me really happy to think about the layers of history.
Christa Avampato 19:51
Our world now tells us, “We need everything bright, shiny, and new. Throw out the old stuff. You have get all new stuff. Be a minimalist.” I still think that there’s something so beautiful about something old, something that gets passed down. Whether you get it in an antique store or it’s passed down by a family member or friend.
I love that in New York, we can go shopping in the street. I have gotten some very good street finds as opposed to going to a store and paying a lot of money. Instead, many times we just come across something great right on the street.
Ashley Semrick 20:33
Furniture, artwork. I’m thinking of when you and I went to the Sanitation Museum, an entire warehouse devoted to things that people had thrown out. And we walked through those JAM PACKED aisles. I mean, I feel like for listeners, they need to know about this. Imagine the most crammed antique store you’ve ever seen. But everything’s very much sorted. So there’s a pile of pocket watches and 35 different suitcases. And you’re just wandering, looking at all these objects. Every single one of them belonged to someone who used it, who had a life, who decided to throw it away. The things that we saw there were just incredible. I will never forget the taxidermied Pitbull.
Christa Avampato 21:16
Nelson Molina worked at the Sanitation Department for well over 30 years. He drove one of the trucks and he made it his mission, as he was collecting things that people had thrown out, to collect the things that he thought were really interesting, that were museum-worthy. And the sanitation department gave him this space at their headquarters way over on the East Side of Manhattan. And they gave him the space to display all these things.
Artwork, the posters, the jewelry, photographs, furniture, clothing. You can’t buy any of it, it is just there as a museum. But it is incredible to think we live in a city of almost 10 million people. This has been one of the largest cities in the world, for most of its existence. And to think of the number of people that have come through the city.
I went to college in Philadelphia where I was a history major. And I would always think, “Ben Franklin walked on these streets with his heeled shoes clicking and clacking.”
Ashley Semrick 22:15
I know. And in some ways, that Sanitation Museum is our museum. That’s our history museum of our city, right? It’s not the fancy museum. It’s the everyman museum.
You’re talking about places that hold history, too. You and I have had lunch at Fraunces Tavern. It’s been around since the founding of our city. That’s a place where you can go into the very room where the Sons of Liberty and Washington were talking about the Revolution and celebrating victory. And to me, it’s just such a privilege to acknowledge the past. And I’m gonna use this phrase again, the layers of history, right? Because even before that, we know that the Lenape were creating their own history.
I have a walking guidebook of Manhattan that has sort of like hidden histories. And one of them is by an archaeologist who found this incredible burial ground for objects. It wasn’t for humans. They didn’t find human remains, but they found objects carefully buried, and animals that were clearly ceremonially buried, because they were in a certain position with different artifacts with them.
And you as a science nerd, know that even beyond that, we’re looking at the glacial history of our city and the remains of hadrosaurs. It just never stops, the unpacking of the old things. And the layers.
Christa Avampato 24:04
I find it so hopeful that 100 years from now, when you and I are ghosts, and haunting the streets of New York City together, which I think is just going to be an absolute blast.
Ashley Semrick 24:19
I know. We’ll be whispering facts about history to people!
Christa Avampato 24:22
There will be things that we have left behind it that people will interpret. One of the reasons that I write is that I hope that my books will live on long after I do and will speak to people the way that the books that we read from people who lived long ago still speak to us.
You told me a story about an essay about why you should have a physicist speak at your funeral. And that idea of every smile that you emit, those atoms are still pushing out into the world. And so that idea of everything that we do having meaning, not only for us in our lifetimes, but for the many, many, many people who will come after us. History gives me hope. It reminds me that, I am going to go on. There are parts of us that will go on after our very long and very happy lives. There will be something that remains. And I love that about history.
Ashley Semrick 25:16
I do, too. As you were talking, I was thinking of places where you get a feeling because sometimes, you know I’m willing to get a little spooky woowoo as they say about history, but that’s only because I think most people have sort of experienced going somewhere and getting a vibe right? Like either a comforting vibe or like ooh, this feels a little creepy. You, like me, love to travel alone, because going somewhere alone really gives you the permission to take time. And so if you are in a graveyard, and you just want to sit and enjoy the peace, you might not have a spooky woowoo connection, but you’re enjoying a moment of history.
When I went to Scotland and I would just sit in the stairwells of castles alone and just touch the wall because something felt so special about that. It felt really, really like I was connecting to some sort of history. Was anyone actively talking to me? No, but I was taking enough time to be curious and to imagine going back in time.
My students and I spent most of this year studying Black American history and doing a really in-depth study of the Civil Rights Era in America. As you know, a lot of photos from that era are black and white. One of the things that I’m helping children understand when I am actively teaching history to children, helping them understand it was not that long ago. The 1960s was not that long ago.
And so I was showing them these wonderful photos from the March on Washington. And then I’d found someone online who had colorized, the same photos. And so I show a black and white photo of some marchers and then without even saying anything, no preamble, I just clicked to the next slide where the same photo immediately went colorized. The gasp in the room. The kids lost their minds. I just let them sort of emote for a second. And then I said, “What? What just happened?” And then said, “It seems so real. Now, she looks like she could be here yesterday.” That somehow triggered something in their mind that helped them understand better. And so that’s one of the examples of whatever it takes for you to get interested in history, I’m going to do that.
And don’t apologize for whatever history you’re interested into. If Civil War battles are your jam, rock on. I hope you’ll go to every battlefield and feel the fields. Lord knows when I lived in Virginia, I definitely went on lots of Battlefield weekend trips. But it’s also just about allowing yourself to enter a space or be with a piece of art or be with an object or be with a story and just be with it. Just learn to sit with it and rest and see what comes. It’s your choice. Don’t make any apologies for it. Just dig. Be curious. Search for things because it’s a nonstop journey.
I want to share one more story of old things and the energy that they may or may not contain. I was at the Met Museum. This was about a year ago. They were getting ready to close. I’m sure you like me have your greatest hits at the Met that you like to visit. And I hadn’t gone through the Diker Indigenous art collection in the American Wing. I was like, “I’ve got to do it. Okay, I have like 10 minutes, 10 minutes, and I can go do that Indigenous art collection.”
So I’m hustling. I’m doing my fast New York walk and I get to the doors of the collection. So this particular collection of Indigenous objects is behind glass doors. I’m literally two steps into the room and I hear a voice in my head say, “Slow. Down.” It stopped me in my tracks. I took a deep breath. “Okay, I’m moving slower.”
Now. Did the objects tell me that? Did a ghost tell me that? I don’t know, something told me to slow down. Because for whatever reason, the objects in that room wanted a little more stillness, a little more reverence, and a little more respect. And I heard it. So I gave it and it just stuck with me it.
I remember telling my partner afterwards, “The weirdest thing happened to me as I was trying to hustle through the last part of the museum.” And to this day, it remains one of the most clear experiences of old things demanding what they needed me to do.
And within our own lives, we do our own set of personal preservation. I have a watercolor hanging in my house from my grandparents and it says, “For Len and Naomi on their 50th anniversary” or something like that. A friend of theirs painted a watercolor of some ships. And it’s in this cheesy early 80s acrylic frame. That watercolor hangs on my wall now and when I look at it, it’s not just a painting from grandma and grandpa’s house. It yanks me back in time to being a little girl with my cousins, by the pool, hot summer nights, spaghetti dinners. All of these memories come rushing back because that hung on the wall in their home.
And so we develop our own histories for our objects in our lives, and the objects’ histories that may die with us. Write down your stories. Write about the objects you have and what they mean to you and why. My house is so full of storied objects because objects tell stories. That’s another one of my teaching philosophies. That’s how we get curious and dig in. I would challenge people to look around their own homes and think, “What is an object that tells a story of me or my family? Maybe I should write that down.”
Christa Avampato 31:45
Ashley, this was an absolute delight to talk about the joy of old things with my very dear friend. I’m so grateful to you for spending some time with us, for sharing your joy, for teaching our young people about history. I’m so glad that you’re in the world. Thanks so much for joining us on the JoyProject.
Ashley Semrick 32:42
Thank you, Christa. And thank you for encouraging people to share their joy and notice what brings them joy. And I‘ll encourage them to think about something in their lives that maybe holds a little bit of history—theirs or someone else’s.
Christa Avampato 32:56
Thank you so much, Ashley. I hope you will come back and join us again. And I hope that you keep finding joy everywhere you go.
Ashley Semrick 33:01
Christa Avampato 33:05
And there you have it, friends. The joy of old things with Ashley Semrick. This episode felt like a warm hug for my history loving heart. I hope it filled you with joy.
You can connect with Ashley on Instagram at @hellosemrick and at her website hellosemrick.com. You can find photos, a transcript of this episode, and the show notes with links to topics Ashley and I talked about at my website christaavampato.com/joyproject. And you can connect with me on my website, and on Twitter at @christanyc and on Instagram at @christarosenyc.
As promised, at the end of every episode I share something that brings me joy that’s related to the episode’s topic. Today I want to share with you one of my favorite Instagram accounts that Ashley introduced me to. And it’s called Cheap Old Houses, all one word on Instagram. Dedicated to the discovery of magical places all over the U.S., the account features cheap old houses for sale, most of which are fixer uppers and they are just dreamy. And when they say cheap, they mean cheap. Every house is under $100K.
I live in a small studio apartment in New York and this account inspires me to imagine what a space was when it was built and what it could be with some love, elbow grease, and interior design work. And to consider buying one because rent prices are just out of control.
They also have another account on Instagram @cheapoldhouses_secret all one word and a newsletter cheapoldhouses.com/subscribe. Their website has extra newsletters including Cheap Old Houses Ultra for houses under $25,000, Cheap Old Farmhouses to help us would-be home-buyers get away from it all with houses on at least 3 acres of land and under $150,000, Cheap Old Houses Abroad for houses in Canada, Europe, and far-off places that cost less than $150,000, and Cheap(ish) Old Houses for historic homes under $250,000.
And if your interior design mind and love of old houses needs more, they have a show on HGTV and streaming on Discovery+ that is glorious. Cheap Old Houses is run by Elizabeth and Ethan Finkelstein, a couple who loves history, design, storytelling, and helping to preserve old homes. Thank you Elizabeth and Ethan for sharing and curating your joy of old things for all of us.
Have a joy-filled week everyone and thanks for being here with us on JoyProject.