Home Tour: 100-year-old Fogo Island house

The Greene residence has looked over the Tilting harbour for more than 100 years, its classic styling standing proud and unaltered as houses rose, fell and changed around it.

The home was built by Aiden Greene’s grandfather, who also built much of the furniture in the home. Being a 19th century home, it didn’t have electricity, indoor plumbing or insulation and heat was provided by a woodstove. In 1988, Aiden took possession of it. Before that, his bachelor uncle lived in the house until well into the 20th century without making any changes to the home. By 1995 it had become Aiden and his family’s summer home.

“It’s pretty much the same as it was when it was built,” he says. In 1988, the home still had no electricity or running water. Staying there with his young family was, Aiden says, pretty much like camping.

Today, the home has power and running water. The back kitchen was updated with appliances after power was put in and a full bathroom was installed.

Aside from those changes and the addition of some soft furniture in one of the front rooms, the home is much as it has always been.

Sitting in the other front room off the kitchen, it’s easy to imagine what life was like more than 100 years ago – mostly because the room looks the same as it did then. Two daybeds, made by Aiden’s grandfather, sit across from each other. A kerosene lamp tops a sideboard, also built by the original homeowner, although electric lights now provide nighttime illumination.

An old rocking chair sits next to the woodstove, rocking gently as Aiden pushes his feet against the floor while talking about his family’s home. For years, he kept the home exactly as it was, bringing his wife and kids for summer visits void of electricity and plumbing.

“We were basically camping inside,” he says. His parents lived next door, and they would use that house for their modern needs.

The old ways didn’t last, though, as Aiden upgraded the home to meet the expectations of today. He made an effort to hide the electrical work by running the wires under the house then up the walls and along the seams of the boards.

The home is built using studs on approximately 16-inch centres, says Aiden, with planks nailed horizontally on both the inside and outside walls. The inside walls were originally wallpapered, and Aiden also opted for wallpaper applied to the boards on a layer of backing.

Aside from installing water and power, Aiden opted to keep the house as is, including the decision not to insulate the house. This was partly a desire to keep the house original and partly because the summer is the only time the house sees any real use.

Looking around the room that, furniture included, looks much the same as it did in the late 1800s, Aiden pauses before summing up the state of the home.

“Most of it is authentic.”