The Hindus, Buddhists and Taoists all revel in simplicity. Diane Frankenberger isn’t
a Hindu, a Buddhist or a Taoist.
She named her house Pentacost and attempts to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. But a pujari, a geshe and a daoshi (ministers in those three religious traditions) might like to claim her.
And they would almost certainly like to visit her house.
If you live in Summerville, you probably know Frankenberger, or you know her store and her house. Proprietor at the fabric store People Places and Quilts on West Richardson Avenue, this generous resident resides with her husband in a uniquely rustic house in the woods off Central Avenue.
Let’s take a walk around and through it.
First, head off the street onto a dirt path. There are no neighbors, unless you count the three churches and the creek that border the property.
Perched above the creek’s flood stage is a house so thoroughly infused with wood it could meld seamlessly into the trees that surround it. Every part of the structure is wood, though not a tree on the property was harmed in its construction.
Outside, the house is a riot of natural growth, but nary a blade of grass. Frankenberger allows native flora to flourish, unless they are poisonous or have thorns.
Knock on the door. (There’s no doorbell. Nor is there a dishwasher, garbage disposal, air conditioning or anything else that competes with the sounds of nature.) What you will notice immediately, beside the redolence of sparkleberry wood, is that the furniture doesn’t match in the conventional sense. Her furniture emporium, the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, generally doesn’t stock matching items. Everything but the kitchen sink is second hand. Come to think of it, so is the kitchen sink.
“This house makes me feel peaceful,” Frankenberger explains. “I don’t need to polish any silver or send any rugs to the dry cleaners. It’s okay that there are patches over holes in the screens that squirrels chewed. I feel very content with what I don’t have.”
The story of the house harkens to the end of Frankenberger’s first marriage. In need of a new life direction and place to live, she purchased the flooded property for a song and built a house without amenities.
Sometime later a new husband entered the equation. The new couple made a deal: if Marvin got a TV, a recliner and a garage he would accept conjugal life in this unusual house. The garage cost more to add than the house cost to build. Marvin’s new wife also gave him the closet. “He has more clothes than I have,” she said.
The Tao of the house flows into the woods that surround it. Instead of TV, Diane and Marvin watch the otters, red snakes and blue herons that share their patch of Earth.
Pentacost the house reflects its owner’s life philosophies: Go with the flow, marinate in gratitude and share her bounty with others. Though her children think she’s “a little wacko,” this life and this house are authentically her.
“I’m glad for my friends who live in McMansions and glad I don’t have to dust all that,” she says.