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Getting there is half the fun


The basement recreation room with its full kitchen and adjacent patio was my mother's preferred place for entertaining her large family, whose members included a wheelchair-using sister-in-law and a great-grandson who walks with difficulty, so in my parents' new home, access for all was paramount.

The stairway in their former house was one long run, with a single bannister. The new house's stairway doubles back on itself with a large landing midway -- in case a climber needs to stop and catch his breath halfway. Smooth round wooden railings run along both sides of the stairway, with the center bannister curving back on itself at the landing so a person does not have to let go at any time in ascending or descending the stairs. And the stairway is open to the main floor, lighted by a skylight, wall sconces and in-wall lights above the baseboards that come on at dusk to light the stair treads.

Beside the stairway an elevator moves both people and goods, such as a rolling cart loaded with party foods, between floors.

Dad, who used the elevator, as did his great-grandson Nick who was born with cerebral palsy, insisted on having a telephone installed in the elevator in case it stopped between floors. It never did.

Nick2 And, although Nick (at right) and the other young great-grandchildren loved riding the elevator, Mom, who had always preferred walking the golf course rather than riding a cart, used the stairs as a way of keeping fit.

Later, after she suffered a severe stroke, Mom could still enjoy the parties downstairs and on the adjacent patio -- thanks to the elevator.