Posted on Facebook, July 29:
A majority of you have known me long enough to have some memory connected to this building, which up until yesterday was my family’s home and/or legacy. My folks bought the 12.98-acre farm in Princeton Junction and uprooted the three of us from West 30th Street in Manhattan in 1972, then drew up and built — literally built by hand — their dream house by 1979. Building was my mom’s day job, and my dad’s nights. Basically this house was my sibling, growing up together, shaped by the same creators. We moved in when I was in fourth grade and was known as “the girl who lives in the castle,” as if I weren’t “different” enough already, typecast as some posh princess rather than the creative tomboy I was. Still am. That big unique house formed a part of my identity that it’s nearly impossible to extract, like a kidney.
There were the annual Holiday House Tours benefiting the local Historical Society. Every year the same questions. “Are the Parrys still living?” A: “Hang on, I’ll check.” Another regular winner, “Don’t you get LOST in here?” A: “No. It’s my house. Why, do you get lost in YOUR house?”
There were the Trick-or-Treaters who never came. The circus of multicolored Christmas lights (“DAAAD! Everybody uses little white lights now!”). The prom photos, the parties, the first wine coolers sipped, the rickety wooden ladders to decorate 18-foot Christmas trees, carols around the piano, and New Year’s Eve fondues by the fireplace. My father filling the great hall with the baroque hits on a pipe organ or handbell carillon (yeah, that, look it up), and doing dishes after the Training House business parties my mom and I catered to countless strangers.
There was my wedding in 1999. Clutching my dad’s arm lest we both tumble down the long steps in a dramatic tangle of ivory silk shantung. The tents outside and the fountain, back when it ran strong, before it was a crumbled heap of cement, tiles, and deformed seahorses. Married! There, in that house, where we first dated! And years later, a baby shower out on that same lawn with those same umbrella tables. Home base. Then there was the estate auction in May, 2012. My parents just had to move out — it was too much for them to handle, and Hurricane Irene had taken its toll with doorknob-high water in the basement leaving a trail of wine corks, crawfish, and the occasional bullfrog behind. Oh, and more mildew. (“Mom, people don’t have a cold for 30 years straight!”)
The auction was time for us all to let go of less important material possessions, 50 plus years and several generations of compulsive collecting. Let it go, but also think ahead. Grab my future inheritance — while my folks stood beside me alive to advise! I’m forever thankful for that unusual opportunity.
It was hard to see boxes of grandmothers’ dolls, and a Ph.D. collection of books on psychology and management, the entire room full carted off for the price of a pint of beer. We said goodbye to the house as we knew it, and took the essence of it over to my parents’ manageable, modern, one-story Castle-lette. (By essence I mean eau de MOTHBALL.)
Guess I’m mourning, a bit. The house is not as strong, vibrant, and colorful as it once was. There’s nothing subtle about the analogy to my parents, who built it when they were about my age. We may fall to a bit of ruin from the elements, but maybe someone sees that original spark and is willing to invest in bringing it out of us again. I wish the new owners all the best as they breathe new life into the former Tamarack Farms.
Kiki Parry, who was raised in the Castle, lives on Meadow Road with her husband, their two kids. Her parents, Joan and Scott, now live in the Village Grande section of West Windsor.
Brad Poller, president of Princeton Internet Marketing Direct, is the buyer. “I met him, and toured the castle with him and my husband, showing him the hidden light switches and other items of interest only a resident would know,” says Kiki. “He was open about sharing his plans and hopes to restore the castle and live in it with his wife and two kids.”
Poller plans to use the annex section for his digital marketing company. “It’s exciting and ambitious,” says Kiki. “It looks like we may have found the eccentric visionary that is necessary for such an undertaking.”