Who wore it best?

September 7, 2023 | Ben Hasan, BHFH Facility Manager

St. Francis Courtyard, facing north toward the Meeting Room.

I am always on the lookout for stories in this house. Working opposite hours from many of the residents, with my headphones in, my mind (and body) in the cellar, and a hammer swinging or a vacuum sucking, I don’t always catch the stories told around the dinner table or at breakfast. But stories abound here, and those myriad stories I get to catch up on are woven into the common and uncommon spaces of the Friends House. 

The wood is worn smooth above the bar on the front door, a unique glaze only possible from the touch of the many hands involved in coming and going. 

The furniture room is always in flux as folks find treasures to bring home, reorganize their rooms, or move out of the house. 

Our coal chute is a clutter of pipes and metal modified and iterated on to keep up with humans’ home heating trends: it has gone from delivering coal, to piping in oil, and now stands as little more than a convenient aperture out of the cellar for a thermostat sensor. 

There is a new schema to organize the cornhole set and the rest of our outdoor gear because we optimized storage differently after the picnic this year than last year.

Each of these things might seem too small to say much of who did them, but in the aggregate they tell a story of the Friends House and all those in it that is somehow bigger and smaller than any story I could ever capture in words. 

Wandering around the house now, I find myself lost in discovery as much as I did on my first few days as I do three months into my time here. At every turn I see a new space in a new way, and I think when I come across an odd old patch job, or a smooth join, not “who did this?” or “why?” but “what happened here?” 

Each action we take in this space leaves echoes (and not just because of our peculiar acoustics), each quirk of these two mansions stapled together marks us in turn. This is the joy of an old house so full of vibrant community for so long: it is a well worn space sure, and needs love and care to keep it burnished smooth, but the wear tells me a lot about who we are, who we were and what all we did with ourselves while we were passing through.

In noticing the echoes,  

Ben Hasan

BHFH Facility Manager

Skip to content