Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wild weather worth the dinner!

Lee Ann, Kathleen, Mike, and Marilyn  meet at Shelbina's Senior Center
The snow and wind was fierce, but we made it to the Shelbina Senior Center for a Christmas dinner.  Marilyn and I met Kathleen Wilham of the historical society and Lee Ann Oliver, who does a great job of managing the Shelby County mo.gen. website of historical information.  If you have not visited the website or historical building, you are missing a real treat.  Information about the Benjamin House and Shelby County is still being discovered thanks to their research.   Local people still have stories to share and we hope to gather them.  J.D. Davis (90) did not make it to the dinner due to the weather, but he must have a lot of stories.  And, I met  Dorina May Richards who knew Jane Todd (resident 1955-60) and asked if Jane had been back to the house.  Jane, we miss you!  Also, an Email arrived from Eddie Jo Johns Lawrence asking about the house and  we hope that she can visit again.  The last time she was here, the house was a construction mess.  I am surprised that she will even talk to me!  So, keep going rain or snow and a bright day can arrive.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Doors and More.........

The size & etched glass are perfect (with work)
Lovely old hinges & knobs
There has been much thought about the old grey painted window (not original) that was located above the door to the basement staircase.  We have measured and searched for a way to fill the void that the old sash had left and how to provide access to the wall behind for painting or other treatments.  Then Eureka, an estate sale door that came from southern Illinois seemed to be the answer.  It was the proper width, era, and design to help light flow to the staircase while allowing future paint or plaster work.
Latch to allow access
Now is the work of cutting, stripping paint, and installation of the window.  So much to do and time is running short on us.  Tic Toc, Tic Toc, Tic Toc........

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sonny/Chuck Magruder loved Christmas at Mansion

Reflections everywhere
This year seemed special as we decorated for Christmas.  Lights and ornaments went on the tree, candles (about 75) were placed in the windows, and the Belvedere got its own tree at the top of the house.  While lighting the tree and seeing the reflections in the large pier mirrors of the parlor, I kept thinking of the joy that this room had brought young Charles Magruder.  He was Sonny or Chuck to most people and nice to all.  His partner, Valerie Shondel,  told me of how he would reflect back to his childhood joy at descending the grand staircase and entering the parlor.  The tree, reflections, decorations, and memories stayed with him forever.  Thank you Valerie for bringing a special joy to our Christmas with your story of Chuck.  Christmas is a time to share with everyone past and present  In this way, Sonny can be with us  each Christmas season.

Sonny's first view
       Does anyone else have a story about Christmas at the mansion?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Retraction (my bad)

Mansion Mike's Stocking

Well, I didn't think my wife read these blogs.  There is a certain complacency with time in relationships, but she certainly read the one about "Greed".  It was pointed out to me that the "big" stockings were Mike's.  Also, it was pointed out  that she did most of the filling, while I did most of the emptying (especially if it was edible).  And, Santa doesn't complain about the work near as much as me.  Since this was all true, I agreed to post this retraction and get my butt back up the stairs to the ballroom for another box of decorations!

Santa may put MY candy in the "chamber pot" to the lower left of the fireplace if I don't change my ways!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Is my wife Greedy?

Stockings are on the way
Our favorite winter room - southeast 
I was looking for a way to avoid carrying so many boxes of decorations from the top floor "Ballroom" and the thought came to me that decorating every fireplace (8) is just too much work and greedy to ask Santa to fill stockings on every fireplace.  He will be confused anyway by trying to figure which of the chimneys (4) to climb down.  Is Marilyn going overboard?  Stockings are still being added to the mantles.

Bob Crist & Mansion Mike set to duel!

After installing the cast iron vent cover in the master bedroom, I immediately called former owners Bob & Betty Lou Crist to share the news.  As always, they are excited to hear the latest news of renovation.  My description of the vent could not do as good a job as a picture.  Bob then asked why there would be a hole above the fireplace anyway.  It did seem redundant, but my theory is that it was part of the original design to allow the installation of the more efficient Franklin Stove (more efficient than standard fireplaces).  Bob had another question about why this might have been done when the home was built with one of the first furnaces in the area.  My response was that the furnace was not installed until nearly 1890 as found in an early Shelbina Democrat newspaper.   This information was discovered by Kathleen Wilham in her constant search of history.  Bob was just as sure that the home was built with a furnace centrally located in the basement  In fact he felt that installation of a furnace with ducts would not be possible after the home was built.  We agreed to settle this manner with a duel the following morning at sunrise.  However, the duel had to be cancelled when Bob's bad hip acted up and my wife told me that I could not take part in such a crazy idea (even though I have a history of immature behaviour).  This type of disagreement is possible about many areas of the mansion due to the lack of reliability in spoken history.  Well, written history too!   I have another source of information that may help shed light on this situation.  Documents are reported to be in Texas that may enlighten us in several areas. Anyone with information or interior photos about the mansion is encouraged to contact us.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Big Wally Arrived!

"Big Wally's" sounds like a candy bar
FOREVER!  That's a long time.
The UPS guy dropped off my order of Plaster Magic from Big Wally's.  I attended a plaster seminar in Independence, MO sponsored by the Missouri Preservation Society.  The guest of honor was Big Wally himself and he did an excellent job of explaining "Plaster".  It was interesting and internet research indicated that plaster magic is a good repair technique.  Tomorrow it will be Christmas Decorations, light the candles, and Big Wally.  Wish me luck in the back door mudroom.  I thought I would try it first in a small area.

Rare vent cover found!

Marilyn and I were at an estate sale when a friend asked us if we had seen the rare cast iron vent cover.  I had, but did not know what it was!  It looked like a an iron plate with a lot of holes.  He then showed us how the center would rotate for removal.  Then you could install the vent pipe through the hole.  It looked like it had never been used.  We immediately knew where it would fit into the mansion - the master bedroom!  There is a vent hole high above the fireplace and we had been searching for just the right cover.  There are hundreds of painted covers available, but we had not found just the right cover for this room.  Marilyn and I immediately did a google search to learn about this form of vent and found very little.  Quickly we searched for a company that might supply these vents so that we could determine how high to bid at the auction.  No luck for this search either.  I had to go to work, but Marilyn stayed and had her hand waving in the air like a young girl meeting her boyfriend at the train station.  Excitedly, she then text me with the news.  I know, it sounds like parents talking about their kid's making the honor roll.  Well, that is the way we feel.

Did you ever.....

Feel like one of those squirrels who scramble all over the place with a nut in their mouth.  Then cannot find the hidden nut when they are hungry?  That happens to me with tools at the mansion.