Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thanks to Shelbina City Emplyees

"First Responders"  Cliff & Donna McMurry

i We had a wonderful fall day with the temperature about 80* for the "City Happy Hour" and appreciaiton party.  It was nice to share the home with so many people who keep things running for all of us.  The McMurrys ( Cliff and Donna) were the first to arrive and it was nice to host them.  Donna said that she had wondered about the interior of the home and enjoyed their tour.  We also enjoyed meeting city council members as well as Mayor Dimmitt and his wife Vicky.  She had shown the home several times and approved the new decor.  People roamed up to the Belvedere and down to the depths of the basement - ooooohhhhhhhhhhhhh                                                
     I wish that I had known that the Mayor was talented in remodel and many other areas so that I could have asked his advise.  I just thought that he was a career politicion on his was to the governorship

As close as I'll ever get........

A graveside service was held today for Charles (Chuck or Sonny) Magruder in Shelbina Cemetery.  It was a sad event and yet it was nice to see a gathering of those who knew the man as an adult or as a boy.  It is still difficult to express how I should feel such a loss by the passing of someone that I never met.  Our only commonality is that the house in which he grew to be such a fine man is the one that we now own.  Spirits are so often associated with fear, but this house has been beneficial to so many families. I choose to think that the correlation between between events is related to Charles Magruder's spirit.   Good thoughts abound and it is nice to know that Mr Magruder once again resides so close.  Several people toured the home and his partner Valerie Shondel enjoyed visiting his home once again.  She and her mother both agreed that "Chuck" would have approved the changes that we made.  As difficult as the loss felt for us, it had to have been twice as hard for Valerie having this service and the loss in their New York home.  She displayed tremendous grace.                                                                
Mike Shepherd, Valerie Shondel, Harlan Greenwell, & Robert Crist
Photo taken in the dining room of the Benjamin House.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Energy from other presorvationists

Tonight Marilyn and I went to a meeting at a home on 314 N. 7th St in Hannibal that is owned by Gordon and Ashley Harrison.  They, like us, found an old home that was in danger of  complete disrepair or being altered to become  rental units.  Gordon is an art conservator and works mostly on old paintings.  The woodwork in the Ashley's home was very nice in most rooms and the design of the home is very interesting.  They have removed most of the plaster and drop ceilings. Now they are installing new drywall on many walls and ceilings.   The floors had been swept, but still showed the dust from so much plaster and drywall work.  We certainly understood that situation as we are still sweeping up plaster dust.  It was nice to share stories of hand sanding floors, removing ceilings, walls, and plaster.   They too search for antique trim pieces and lighting to help the house.  They have found great old lighting fixtures and have overcome a lot of obstacles.  Their energy and excitement at solving problems was inspiring to us about our work on the Benjamin house.  There are several really nice old homes in Shelbina that need  interested owners like the Harrisons. 

I shutter at the thought!

There are a ton of shutters in the Benjamin House..  Today I was working on a  couple of the shutters to get them to operate properly.  This involves removing the shutter from the window, which requires removing excess paint to access the screw slots.  Cleaning the painted over hinges and latches requires a lot of time.  In fact, there are 148 shutters with over 5,500 screws to operate them.  Small screws with small slots and years of paint over the metal.  Plus, the hinges are covered in paint that blocks them.  I better go to Margaritaville and do a couple tomorrow.   Of course there are sash locks too, with their   screws.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Friends of the Mansion

The task of renovating the Mansion is a long journey.  As with any journey, some days are better than others and many, many days are solitary.  Just me and the poltergeists annoying each other.  Then, on special days, a friend of the Benjamin House will  visit and help the house.  Rose Fitzhugh is always a joy and this week she brought a lovely gift for the house.  It is a 4 piece, brass set of fireplace tools that are in excellent condition for their years.  They match the Benjamin bedroom with its brown tones.  She has such good taste and her upbeat attitude really helps progress in the house.  Earlier she found a large antique oriental rug that compliments one of the upstairs bedrooms.  Thanks Rose, and an honorable mention to her husband Dan for all his good  electrical work and ideas about fixing the house.  He is also a real bonus at Halloween when he wears his wolf man mask and has kids running from the sidewalk.  Thanks so much.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Halloween is near.

Last night Marilyn did a "test drive" on her latest Halloween gadget.  It is a broom that runs by itself around the house with a cackling voice like a witch.  Batteries, noise, or motion sends the broom scurring about until it bumps into something and turns around.  It looks a bit like something out of Harry Potter, but it had us laughing.  Old hardwood floors are great for robotic brooms.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mansion needs a Bass Boat!

Several groups have toured the Benjamin House.  Enough to see a trend of who has the most interest, and that group is "women".  Sororities and historical societies are our main tour groups, but I explained to my wife that this may be a result of our marketing.  To reach a broader scope of interest, I have suggested to my wife that I get a new, loaded bass boat !  My wife has not yet grasp the concept that by parking the boat in the driveway it would broaden the appeal of the mansion.  Also, we could have "Benjamin House" stenciled on the side of the boat like in NASCAR and I could take it to fishing events.  What do you think - guys?  Help me out here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Question about past remodel.

The removal of wallpaper has lead to a closer examination of other areas of the back entrance foyer.  Above the door that leads to the basement stair access, is a window.  Strange place for a window, since the servant's staircase forms a ceiling that is just behind the window.  The window was not noticed at first, because the window frame and glass had been painted gray.  Why?  Perhaps painting the window gray hid the fact that old wallpaper on the ceiling behind the window was hidden.  Exploring further, I removed the window by pulling out the window casing.  Two things came to light.  First plaster covered part of the frame, which showed old plaster repair or the casing was installed very early in the life of the house.  Round nails indicate that the frame above the door as built later.  When the window was loose enough to remove, I found that it was the bottom sash from another window.   The angled top to the sash was designed to seal the joint with the upper sash in the original window.  Why had this window been placed above the basement door?  Perhaps to seal out "Vapors" from the dirt floored basement.  What was above the door before the window was installed?  For that matter, is the door below the window even original?  When and who are the next questions that come to mind.  Last of all, there is the question "what to do about the old salvage window above the door."  


Well, while doing some RESEARCH for the mansion, I saw a pretty young woman (research) wearing a
sweat shirt that said,"I Love PINK".  It reminded me of Betty Lou Crist and how she was 30 years ahead of the current "Pink" popularity.  She has always liked pink and today I found pink paint under some brown paint that I was stripping off shutters in the 1st floor bathroom. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall work in the yard

Yes, I know that it isn't exciting, but the cool fall weather is a nice time to break out the hedge trimmer.  There are a lot hedges and bushes to trim, but warm sun on a cool day makes the task more fun.  The large "smoke bush" grew a lot this summer thanks to the frequent water we applied.  It will need trimming back soon.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

If a tree falls in the forest.............?

Is there an interest in the "process" of bringing the home to life?  Or,  is a picture of the finish enough?  Who cares?

Sad news for all

Betty Lou Crist fell and suffered a hip injury.  It was sad to hear and the effect on the family is also tough.  Bob's life is altered and though he is able to handle a lot of events, it is tough to have your partner hurting and recovering in another town.  Best wishes to the former owners and our close friends.