‘Latkaland’, as it is affectionately known around the homestead, was an old Victorian house located in a turn-of-the-century neighborhood that had seen better days. Situated on a bluff over looking the city of Pueblo and the historic train depot, we knew immediately upon seeing this forgotten nightmare that it would make the perfect home and studio. And, in 1976, the negotiating price was perfect: $16,000. It was only after we stopped by to tell Tom’s aunt Doedoe about our recent purchase and impending move that we learned of the true serendipity of our procurement: Tom’s mother, who passed away when he was four years old, was born in the house. We felt like we had just traveled through the Twilight Zone.
The previous owner was a contractor who must have been somewhat of a psychological misfit or so resented his work that he made some proclamation never to lift a hammer or nail down a shingle at his own home. He mistrusted any kind of living plant so had sprayed the entire acre with an herbicide and then proceeded to dump pea-gravel over the ground. He augmented his income by renting rooms to tenants that shared their kitchens with roaches, mice and numerous pans to catch water from the leaking roof. It didn’t take long to realize that our deal probably wasn’t such a good deal.
But it’s true what they say about being young and having more back than brain because we took a year and set about converting the nightmare into a dream. In 1983 Tom added a 2400 square foot studio so we could move from the two rooms that had been our pottery and in 1985 we brought in an abandoned gazebo that became our kiln shed and outdoor glazing area. And throughout the years we kept tilling away at the soil, creating raised beds for flowers, vegetable gardens and planting 4” tree seedlings that today spread their expansive boughs over the lawns.