Friday, November 9, 2012

Old west door of Mansion

Beth Dittmer of Shelbina posed an interesting question about the west side of Benjamin House (side facing the cemetery).  There is an obvious outline of an old doorway.  New brick was used to fill the doorway and it contrasts sharply with the old soft brick of the 1800s.    Another doorway exists that has been covered, but very few know of it.   Many of my questions have been answered with two stories and old pictures.  The doorway was open during the ownership of the Todd family and the boys (Mike & Chuck) have related how they rode down the ramp that was on the west side of the home (1955-60).  The wooden structure on the back of the house began to deteriorate and was removed during the Christ ownership according to Robert Crist.   The shadow is still visible on the west wall above the doorway.  A wooden structure can be seen in the background of old pictures at the Shelby County Historical Society.  The ramp was probably constructed by Mr & Mrs Long about 1950 when they were altering the home to begin an "Old Folks Home" as they were once called.  The Longs had done this twice before with large old homes.  It seems difficult in light of the regulations that we know today, but they had been successful and may have done well.  People of that era must have been tough to handle all the steps of the house.  Unfortunately,  Mr Long suffered a fatal heart attack and the plan for senior housing was abandon as the mansion was sold.  The Longs made extensive changes to the original kitchen, butler pantry, installed another bath upstairs, and remodeled the upstairs laundry room.  Their work was done well and survived until our recent efforts to return the home to a more original status.  The Old Doorway is on our list of things to accomplish, but is far down the list.  There is a lot of work to accomplish, but reopening the old doorway would be nice.  Would anyone or group like to take on this project?

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