Then and Now

At some point in the late 1870s my great-great grandfather moved onto this farm.  I’ve never been able to figure out whether this farm was already owned by his family, or whether he bought it.  I know for sure he didn’t grow up here, but rather on the adjacent farm where his family lived.  But, in any event, in time the farm became his and he prospered as the post-war economy recovered.

Cooper White as a young man

Cooper White as a young man

There is much to tell about these people, and (being Southern) it’s hard for me to resist the telling.  But that would be way too much for a modest blog post.  This morning I’m just going to tell about their house.

Cooper and Alice White

Cooper and Alice White

Cooper and his wife Alice first lived in a one room log house.  As they were able, they added to it.  Over time the original house became the kitchen and a much larger two-story house, built with logs from the farm and covered with clapboards from here, became their home.  The final addition was a two story “I-house” structure that was extremely popular at the time, which they built around 1884.  The house was painted in the fanciful colors that Victorians favored, was surrounded by an iron fence and had a row of boxwoods leading to the front porch.

Later, after World War One, when the neo-colonial style swept the country and everyone began covering their painted ladies in white paint, their house lost it’s Victorian coloring and became white, as it is to this day.

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The house was abandoned in the 1970s and had badly deteriorated by then.  By the time we began trying to fix it up a few years ago it was so far gone that folks around here thought we were crazy to even try it.  The windows were out, the plaster was falling off the walls and ceiling, and the area was so overgrown the house was not visible through the bushes and vines in the summer.

The oldest parts of the house were just too far gone to save.  We carefully went through them, rescuing the heirlooms and mementos that had not been stolen, then had them torn down.  We added a modest addition to the rear of the house, with bathrooms and a kitchen (both of which were separate structures when the house was built), trying to match the original front as best we could. We painted the roof, repaired the chimneys, replaced the broken windows, re-wired the place, fixed the walls and floors, as well as a long list of other things.  I was able to fulfill a dream from my childhood.

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And now the place is beautiful again.  These photos are just hints of it.

We use the place as a guest house now.  This summer our interns lived there.  For a couple of years a young family, friends of ours, lived there.

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We’re not sure what the future holds for “the old house” but we’re sure glad it’s still around.