Montana and Me
The current owner’s story…
In 2003-04, I was wandering around Hobro and saw Montana for the first time. I was smitten. The faded grandeur of an era of greatness was still there behind the seemingly decrepit shell. The garden was an overgrown mess and behind that, the terrace was collapsed and crumbling. The windows were still identifiable as the originals, but most of them had lost their paint, putty and were rotting in places. If houses have a face, this one was definitely sad. At that point I said “If that house ever comes up for sale, I want to buy it”. Only to be told “oh, that’ll never happen, it’s been a music school for 20+ years and belongs to the church”.
Sometimes I can’t help but feel that the house heard what I said and decided upon its own plan for rescue. Within a year, I received the news in England that the house was up for sale and better still, it was to be sold by sealed bids, so plenty of time to travel over, view it and decide on a strategy.
The bid was probably a bit too high, but in the grand scheme, it meant getting it or not getting it, and in 1/12/04, I took ownership. The years of neglect were even worse that they first seemed. An electrical system that blew out constantly, almost every room painted dark blue, even no hot water as it turned out the hot water had been disconnected years previously to save money.
So it has taken much money, time and effort to get to a point where the house is completed. Apart from the obvious new kitchen and bathroom, major investments were made in many other areas :-
- New electrical installation throughout
- Restoring the original windows when getting new double-glazing would have cost half as much (I couldn’t bear to lose them)
- Restoring original floors throughout
- Painting and wallpapering every wall
- Restoring and painting every ceiling
- Redoing the garden completely
- Repairing the facade and getting it kalked
- New træpiller installation
I still love making that drive home and turning up to Montanavej to see the house greeting me. especially with those gates – there had not been gates at least since 1940, judging by old photos.
If there are ghosts in Montana, I am sure they are good ones. Frederik Tretow-Loof must’ve been living his dream of getting a house built to his own specifications, using bricks from his own brickworks when it was built in 1904-05. Then also how it was the “Præstebolig” for Hobro for so long. Moments of strangeness include dreaming the first night about a man with a handlebar moustache saying “the drains have never worked”..interestingly the drains were completely redone at some point in history, as seen in the basement and outside. Another one was stripping the wallpaper off the walls in the room next to the kitchen in 2005 and finding the wall lined with pages from the 1905 Newcastle Journal, the local newspaper we used to get at my home back in England when I was a child. There’s the remains of an old 1900s English railway/shipping timetable book in one of the eaves upstairs. It suggests I am not the first British influence upon the house.
In April 2019, I have made the sad decision to sell up for personal reasons. I once thought I would never sell this house and I really wish I wasn’t, but life and work are pushing and pulling me elsewhere. If there was a way to take this place with me, I would. It’s the best house I have ever lived in and I cannot see how it will ever be beaten. Every element of it is a memory of decisions made, work done and things bought to fit the house.
There is no financial gain for me from this whole project. It has been a labour of love and one I hope continues onwards with new owners looking after Montana the way I feel I’ve done these past 15 years.