STEVEN KURUTZ OF THE NEW YORK TIMES has written a terrific story about time capsule houses — not empty ones, but ones people still live in today, original furniture and all. The basic question of his story was: Why do people choose to live in homes that they never change for 20…30…40…50 years? He interviewed couples living in four such homes, and it is fascinating, interesting and funny, even, to read their stories. In his research, Steven came across this site and all our interest in time capsules, so he contacted me and ultimately interviewed me for the story.
What do you think? If they fit the bill, why did your grandparents, aunt and uncle, parents, or neighbors stay in their house and never change it?
Why do people stay in their time capsules? From my experience — in particular regarding more modest, middle-class homes, I answered and was quoted:
In many cases, she said, the homes were occupied by elderly couples who were immensely proud of them. “I think the owners of these homes were tremendously invested in them emotionally, as well as financially,” she said. “They came from an era where a house was very hard won.” As a rule, she said, the homes were well cared for, and the belief was “Why change something if it’s not worn out?”
He also asked two psychologists. One said:
Lots of people become frozen to a time in their past,” said Gail Thoen, a psychologist who has done research on aging. The breakup of a marriage or the death of a spouse are two of the most common reasons people hang on to a particular time, she said, which is sometimes reflected in their environment.
Leon Hoffman, a psychoanalyst in Manhattan, said a house can provide a “secure base” — a bulwark against change. “Some people are more stuck in their ways,” Dr. Hoffman explained. “There’s a bit of anxiety about what the new stuff brings.”
And then, there were the four true-life stories.
What do you think? I think this is a very interesting question indeed.
Oh, and be sure to read the complete story here. You must register, but it’s free — and I assure you: It’s worth it! I also want to acknowledge: Photo above is from the Times; it is hotlinked directly back to their most excellent slide show.