house made of mud

rescuing a sonoran row house

every life needs a little bit of crazy, right?

“you bought a warehouse?” this is what one of our friends said when, chris, my partner showed him a picture of the outside of our recently purchased abode.


no, chris assured him, it wasn’t a warehouse.  it was a house–specifically a sonoran row house in the barrio viejo district of tucson, arizona–and not only had we bought it, we intended to live there.

before that can happen, though, it’s true the place is going to need, shall we say, a bit of sprucing up.  at the moment, all of the doors and windows on the front elevation are boarded up, and most of the ones on the back sides of the house are either missing or broken.  everywhere you look the plaster is crumbling off and the mud brick walls are eroding, both inside and out. pigeons are roosting in several rooms; their droppings streak the walls and litter the floors and they make a sort of growling noise at you when you enter their domain. there’s some graffiti on the front, but even more of it inside, no doubt from kids who’ve broken in on dares over the years. at least one stray cat lives in a hole that leads to the cellar (it scared the crap out of me recently one day when i was there by erupting out of the floor). there’s also a tunnel like hole in the walls of what will be the living room (it’s anyone’s guess what might be hiding in there). some of the floors are wood boards laid directly on the dirt; others are just plain dirt. there’s one small, sad bathroom, fed by a make-shift solar hot water heater in the back yard.  what little electricity there had once been in the house is no longer hooked up to anything: the junction box for the main power supply line is empty.  there’s no heat other than a disused wood burning stove with broken glass doors in what we guess must have been the kitchen, since there’s a sink in there, though no fridge or oven.

the house, in short, has suffered from years of neglect. other than the homeless guy the previous owners let live there for a time in an effort to keep the school kids out, no one has inhabited the house for decades.  no one, really, even can inhabit it in its current state.

and yet.  we’re in love.  we’re in love with our falling down warehouse. we’re going to do what we can to save it.


Photo Feb 03, 1 41 18 PM Photo Feb 03, 1 41 48 PM Photo Mar 23, 4 43 29 PM Photo Feb 12, 4 56 24 PM Photo Mar 23, 4 43 04 PM Photo Mar 23, 4 42 38 PM




  1. I’m so happy you have chosen to do this. I wish you all the best on your journey, but don’t ever give up. Nearly 50 years ago I restored an adobe house. I’m now 80 and remember the times when I questioned my sanity, buy this is my house filled with mystery, intrigue, and love. It will be worth the blood sweat and tears.
    Take your time and avoid all modern quick fixes.

  2. Thank you. I appreciate the encouragement, especially as I think we are only now beginning to realize exactly how insane the whole thing truly will be. Even so–I can’t wait to live in an adobe. Adobe! There will be future posts, probably many of them, on the beauty of earthen structures.

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