Enon Hall


These journal entries track our progress as we undertake our adventure of restoring this very old home. The main reason for keeping this journal on the web is that we have found that there are very few resources (books or websites) that follow all of the trials and tribulations of restoring an old home...from start to finish.

March 7, 2004

Oh my aching back... I rented a stump grinder and spent all day Saturday and Sunday dragging it around the new lot. I lost count on Saturday, but we're guessing that I ground up over 120 stumps. Hopefully this will make for smooth sailing for the tractor's mower deck this summer. And without all the obstacles, William should be all set to take over some of the mowing duties.

I rented the grinder at The Home Depot (100 miles away from Enon Hall) and it cost $75 a day. It was a Praxis "Stump Machine" with a Honda motor. It started easy and worked great. Most of my stumps were about 8-10 inches in diameter, but I also knocked out a couple that were 18". My only complaint is that the thing should be self propelled. At 200 pounds, dragging it around 2-1/2 acres was a real workout as the tires bogged down in the soft dirt.

We have also bought a used tiller attachment for the tractor. In addition to a vegetable garden this year, I'm going to use it to till up the front half of the new lot and then Gay wants to plant it with a mix of wildflowers. -- Bill

March 12, 2004

We went to Pamplin Historical Park today. (We highly recommend it.) We saw this photo on the wall in the Visitor's Center. It shows the restoration of a slave quarters, located on a private farm about a mile from the park. (Pamplin also replicated this building on their site.) I found the bracing system to be interesting. This may prove useful when we finally tackle our kitchen quarters. I wish we had been able to see that restoration in process, but I believe it may be complete. I'll have to investigate further.

We have ordered a new windmill from O'Brock Windmills in Ohio. Ken O'Brock will be coming here to install it, hopefully in April. I'm having him ship me the tail in advance so that I can put an "Enon Hall" design on it. The old windmill is so badly mangled from Hurricane Isabel that pieces of its blades are falling off in the yard, creating quite a hazard. -- Bill

March 14, 2004

On Saturday we planted two boxwoods along the front walk and moved some clumps of daffodils.

Gay started repainting the bedroom that we painted blue last year. It's not that we didn't like the blue, it just wasn't right for the period of the house. During that period in Virginia, all plaster walls were off-white and the wood trim was a color...often an obnoxiously, vibrant color. The only walls that were painted were wood paneled.

She got two coats on and we still need a third to completely cover the blue. (I blame that on Benjamin Moore...not a fan of their paint.) Just as well, we're going to make a slight color adjustment on the top coat...moving to a lighter off-white.

I worked on finishing off the dormers with some moulding. Makes a world of difference. To me, anyway. Probably nobody else will notice. -- Bill

March 21, 2004

My brother helped me pick up the tiller today and take it to Enon Hall. (Thanks Steve, Art & Debbie!) We should be ready to use it in a couple weeks when the last danger of frost has passed. It's supposed to get down in the 20s tomorrow night!

We still don't know what kind of wildflowers we're going to plant. We're looking for easy germinators and fast growers so that they will stand a chance against the very aggressive weeds that are sure to spring back up after we till. The area we'll be planting is a little over a 1/2 acre.

William spent some more time with me in driver's ed., getting more tractor driving instructions. Showed him how to cross a ditch safely, proper steering techniques (your arms should never look like a twisted pretzel when turning, etc.), and proper backing. He's doing very well. And he's having so much fun that I told him I would only charge him $1.50 to cut the grass each week.

Gay only had time to cut in for the final coat on the walls in the guest bedroom (new, whiter-white...more plaster-like). Meanwhile, Lucy tracked unseen, unheard mice in the floor.

We got our revised re-assessment notice from the county. I think the house is where it should be now. The new lot is still pretty high. But we'll accept this. We hear that the new tax rate will be dropping considerably, so everything should come out OK now.

The restoration of the kitchen quarters building shown in the entry above is complete. In fact, turns out that I was already familiar with this building, I just didn't recognize it behind all the bracing. I have a friend who works for the firm who handled the restoration. You can see the "after" pictures here.

I am SO ready for warm weather to get here! -- Bill

March 28, 2004

We spent a lot of time in planning mode this weekend; other than putting another coat of paint on the walls and ceiling in the guest bedroom and doing some scheduled maintenance on the tractor.

I received the tail for our new windmill last week and spent some time on the computer last night figuring out a special "Enon Hall" design to paint on it before it's installed.

I wanted something that had a 1920/30s feel to correspond with when the windmill was first installed at Enon Hall. It's an interesting design challenge since the shape of the tail is obviously reversed from side to side, and since one side (bottom image above) will be partially covered by the arm that attaches it to the windmill. Therefore, the art on each side needs to be slightly different to accommodate these factors.

I know that laser-cut vinyl letters are a good option for actually reproducing the design on the tail, but I think I'm going to paint it instead so that it will eventually weather and age.

We also had a visit this weekend from Mark Sperry and his wife. Mark is a Colonial Williamsburg blacksmith and is interested in crafting our shutter hardware. Talented guy.

And then in the long-range planning department, we have enlisted the help of architect Wally Mills to help us figure out where we're ultimately headed with Enon Hall. Since the beginning we've been in the mode of cleaning the place up (remember the awful cat urine odors and the knee-deep trash in the outbuildings and cellar?), trying to arrest any further deterioration (an ongoing job) and simply trying to make it functional (bathrooms, kitchen, etc.). But we haven't done anything yet that enters into "enhancements." No new rooms, or additions, etc.

Basically, we're now trying to answer the question: What would we need to do to Enon Hall to have it really meet our needs as our primary residence, if we should decide to make that move some day? And how much would it cost?!?! Things like a family room, larger kitchen, master bath, garage, etc. And how do we make it all fit together in a complementary way? Wally brought us his initial ideas to check out this weekend and it was really exciting to see his perspective on things. I'm sure we'll go back and forth some, but I'm really curious to see where we wind up. -- Bill

March 30, 2004

I ordered this wildflower mix today for the field. We shall see how it does! -- Bill

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