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.

July 1, 2004

Wow, big story in The Washington Post today! Very cool. Thanks to Annie Groer for such a great story (we love the headline!) and to Richard Robinson for the outstanding photos.

Welcome to everybody who has found this site through the story!

You can read the story (without photos) by clicking on the newspaper image above. (You will have to register on the Washington Post site, but it's free.)

It was very cool that the very first e-mail that we got this morning was from a Marine Major deployed in Iraq who read the story online!

William's taking his celebrity status in good stride. -- Bill

July 5, 2004

Thanks to everybody for all the nice e-mails and posts to the Forum! After all of last week's excitement we did manage to get back to work this weekend...at least for a little bit.

Ever since we finished the upstairs bath (almost two years ago!) we have been dealing with a less-than-perfect shower curtain situation. Our initial thought had been to have glass shower doors installed, but the space proved too small for a functional door. Then while in Williamsburg we saw an interesting solution, but finally decided that it would let too much water through. So, for all this time, our "temporary" solution has looked like this.

Yes, Virginia. That is duct tape. You get in the shower and you duct tape the curtain shut all around you. Much, much MUCH less than perfect.

Finally I came up with a solution that would keep the shower curtain affixed tightly to the angled wall! I got the idea from our boat...a simple system of "trailer molding" and welt!

First I installed the shower curtain rod. (The rod is actually level...it's the ceiling that's crooked.)

Then I installed the trailer molding (such a classy name) with screws and plastic anchors. I had to buy a tile/glass drill bit which promptly broke as I finished the last hole.

You can see how the welt slides down the track.

Gay took cut the shower curtain liner to the correct shape and then sewed the welt down that edge. Then we simply fed that edge all the way down the track making a great water-tight seal against the wall. (I also caulked both sides of the track.) Then when the liner needs to be washed, we can just slide it back out!

Cool, huh? I was the first to test it out and give my approval. (It's the small pleasures...)

The long wait for a solution was worth it!

I tackled another job that's been on my to-do list for quite a while...extracting the vines from our holly tree. The tree is really pretty, but vines have been rapidly taking over. The largest intruder was actually a tree. It's trunk was growing right in the middle of the holly and it reached all the way to the top. I cut the tree off at the trunk and tied it to the tractor and then dragged it out. Everything that you see lying on the ground behind the tractor is one plant that came out all in one piece.

Then I proceeded to strip out Virginia Creeper and grapevine. The holly looks better, albeit less full for the loss of its extra greenery.

Beyond those projects, we concentrated on celebrating the 4th. We hosted a cookout for neighbors on the creek and had a great time. And then checked out the amazing fireworks display over Carter's Creek at The Tides Inn.

Hope you had a great 4th too! -- Bill

July 6, 2004

Wow. Whenever I need a little inspiration, I'm going to read this story of determination and vision. -- Bill

July 8, 2004

Lately the windmill tail has not been fully extended.

It's supposed to be perpendicular to the windmill, not at an angle. When I e-mailed Ken O'Brock who installed the windmill he replied, "Looks like the windmill might need more tension on the governor spring. Move it back a couple more holes on the tail."

Uh...that involves going ALL the way up onto the platform to work! All 47 feet! The highest that I have previously climbed is to just below the platform. That last step of getting over and onto the platform is quite frightening to me. Even though the corner of the platform is cut off to make it easier to pass, it still looks daunting.

I dunno. I'm sitting firmly on the earth as I type this and I'm already getting butterflies. Really, the angle of the tail isn't so bad, is it? It isn't hampering the spinning of the windmill. Hey, I have a young nephew who loves to climb things...maybe one day when his parents aren't around...

Gonna just think about this one for a while. -- Bill

July 10, 2004

William and I are leaving tomorrow for our annual Cub Scout summer camp adventure.

Meanwhile, I have added a new page to the site. Orginally it was intended to be a Progress Report showing, room by room, what projects we've completed and what projects still remain. Then I started adding links to the appropriate pages within the journal for each project, so now it serves as a bit of an index too. Check it out here. You'll also find a new link from the Journal Index. -- Bill

July 18, 2004

The windmill tail corrected itself! It was at an angle for about a month, but now it's back out straight. Maybe this week if I lament the rotten floor joists under the house I'll find that they have healed themselves next weekend! No, I suppose not.

In other news, we have contracted with archaeologist Grant Quertermous to come do an excavation of the kitchen quarters. This will aid us in answering a number of questions before we start on the restoration of this historically important 18th century building. Was there a floor? Was it brick or wood? Was the original chimney internal or external? Is the brick foundation original? He should also be able to nail down a construction date pretty closely.

He and his assistant will be spending the first week of August with us. They will be excavating two 1-meter square areas, one inside and one outside the structure. And William will get to assist! He's very excited and looking forward to learning a lot from the experts.

Based on his findings, Grant will also be nominating the structure to the Virginia Register of Historic Places, as well as the National Register. Acceptance would make the kitchen quarters eligible for rehabilitation tax credits, which would go a long way to help with the significant expense of restoring this building.

Guess we gotta evict the groundhogs before the work begins!

We planted a Mimosa tree on the east side of the house where we lost some cedars to the hurricane last year. -- Bill

July 25, 2004

Pardon a diversion from things at Enon Hall. We just returned from a road trip up to Dearborn, Michigan to visit Greenfield Village. I visited there once as a kid in 1972 and knew that William and Gay would enjoy it. Frankly, I think it's one of America's most under-promoted treasures. Most folks here in Virginia have never even heard of it.

On the way to Michigan we visited the Antietam Battlefield in Maryland and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Once in Dearborn, it took us 1-1/2 days to see everything we wanted to see in Greenfield Village. My favorite place had to be the Firestone Farm...the best real 19th century working farm that I have ever seen in a place like this. Not neat and perfect. Not staged. Real.

I took this photo of the farm and then gave it a bit of a hand-tinted look.

We visited the house twice and each time the ladies were busy getting the next meal ready for the family and farm hands.

Of course, we really enjoyed inspecting the 18th century strutures, including the Daggett Farmhouse from Connecticut.

And along the way we were constantly picking up little ideas to implement at Enon Hall. Like this simple and adjustable window holder. Beats the heck out of the paint paddles that I'm usually using for this purpose!

In addition, in the Henry Ford Museum (where we spent an entire day) we were able to identify something that William dug up recently at Enon Hall...a "corn husking peg." (top item in photo) We had no idea what it was!

We also had the pleasure of meeting (in person) a Hathaway cousin, Tom Hathaway, who first contacted me through this site several years ago. We figured out that we are "half second cousins twice removed." In short, his great grandfather ( Henry Straughan Hathaway) is my great great great grandfather. Henry had two wives. I am descended from his oldest son by his first wife, and Tom is descended from his youngest son by his second wife. Even got to see Henry's gold Elgin pocket watch that has come down to him through the family.

Tom and his family will be visiting Enon Hall later this month!

It was a great trip and we've returned full of new ideas! (Stay tuned!) -- Bill

P.S. Man, the Washington Post story is STILL running in papers around the country. It ran in the Miami Herald this morning!

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