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.

December 1, 2004

Today I attended the meeting of the State Review Board at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources where our Preliminary Information Form (PIF) for Enon Hall was approved by the Board. This gives us the green light to proceed with our nomination for the national and state historic registers. Much work to be done! -- Bill

December 4, 2004

Oh, Lord...

Back in 1999 we visited with Agnes Hathaway at her home. (She and her husband Henry were the last Hathaway owners of Enon Hall, selling it in 1939.) In the course of that conversation she told us that "Cousin Sully" (my great great grandfather, Lucullus Hathaway) lived in a house somewhere on the edge of the Enon Hall property.

The next winter when the leaves were off the trees we spotted an old decaying house sitting in the woods just off of the road that leads to Enon Hall. We even stopped and investigated in March 2000 and took a few photos.

We mused that it was possible that this was my gg grandfather's house, but we didn't know if Enon Hall's 400 acres extended that far. (The house is about 3/4 mile from Enon Hall by road.)

Sometime later and unrelated, a Christ Church researcher kindly plotted the boundaries of Enon Hall at the time of its sale in 1939 as an overlay on a topo map. She gave me her tracing, but I didn't have the topo map itself to see how exactly it lined up with roads, etc.

In doing some preliminary work on the National Register Nomination, I finally overlayed the property outline on a topo map from www.topozone.com. Lo and behold, it sure looks like the old house in the woods is just inside the Enon Hall property. Could this really be my gg grandfather's house?

(The image below shows these property lines on a 1994 satellite image from www.terraserver.com. The green-tinted area is the 18th century land and the pink-tinted land was added in the 19th century by Walter Hathaway. The red dot shows the location of Enon Hall.)

Of course, my mind goes spinning immediately. The old house in the woods is surely well past any thought of restoration, but perhaps some materials (flooring?) could be salvaged and used in our Enon Hall addition. How cool would that be?! I would guess that the house dates from 1880 or so...so it is contemporary with the 19th century addition at Enon Hall that we are tying into. Yes, my mind is spinning way too fast... -- Bill

December 6, 2004

False alarm.

I went to the Lancaster County Courthouse today and researched the old house in the woods and determined that it wasn't my gg grandfather's. Turns out that Walter E. Hathaway and his wife Susan and his brother T. Carleton sold the one-acre parcel ("at the far northwest corner of Enon Hall") to a Lee and Clara Winston on December 27, 1907. No house is mentioned in the deed. The Winston's apparently built the house. Oh well. Was a cool idea. Back to reality... -- Bill

December 10, 2004

I've spent the last two days in the cellar trying to see what it can tell me about Enon Hall's earliest incarnations. But, as usual, I emerged with more questions than ever. I have a pretty solid theory about how the house started and evolved, but some things in the cellar are still mysteries to me. And it seems the more I investigate and measure and draw, the more baffled I become.

I think that many of the mixed signals indicate that their was originally a much different house on this site. Enon Hall seems to have emerged later (late 18th century) using parts and pieces of the original foundation. Perhaps the original "Andrews manor house" burned, or was just dismantled by the Hathaways and reconfigured to suit their needs.

The north wall (below) of the foundation appears to be the oldest.

The bricks are large (9-1/4" X 3" X 4") and the bond (although not consistent) appears to be at least partially English bond which was most widely used in the early 18th century. This bond consisted of alternating courses of headers and stretchers.

The south wall (below), on the other hand, is obviously of a different period and is what is known as Common or American Bond, which became more popular by the second quarter of the 18th century. Common Bond features a odd number of courses of stretchers, followed by a single row of headers. The bricks are smaller: 8-1/2" X 2-1/2" X 4".

The floor in the cellar is brick, but at some point it was skimmed with a thin layer of cement.

In the heaviest traffic areas, the cement is worn away to reveal the brick. The pattern of the brick is a bit helter-skelter. In some areas it's basket weave...but that may be more accidental than intentional.

In several places there are major seams in the foundation wall. i can't yet make sense of them. But they obviously point to earlier configurations.

Another mystery lies under the large beam that separates the parlor from the center hall. On the south side of the house a partial wall (13 inches thick) comes out 27 inches and has a finished end. The beam rests on top of this wall. On the opposing north wall, a much less substantial wall (9 inches thick) comes out with its east face flush with the east face of the thicker wall on the other side of the cellar. The wall orginating from the north has been mostly torn down, but I did some excavation and was able to see that it originally came to within 3 feet of the other wall and there formed an opening. Confused? The photos below might help. You can use the wooly worm to get your bearings.

Looking south

Looking north

I can't find any indication that a door frame was attached to the finished wall end...no nail holes, no ghosting. The opposing, thinner wall was obviously constructed later than the thicker wall. It was fairly common for houses of this period to have cellars under one part of the house and then partially dug out areas under other parts. That appears to be the case here, but it's hard to sort out the phases.

The fireplace in the cellar (now filled in) is relatively small. Doesn't seem like an early period cooking fireplace, but more like a late 18th or early 19th century size.

It's interesting that this is the only fireplace in the house with a hearthstone, instead of brick. Looks like granite.

On the other hand, the deteriorated base of the former west chimney is much larger... roughly 7-1/2 feet wide and 6 feet deep. Really makes me wonder what kind of fireplace was above this, especially since there does not appear to have been a fireplace on the second floor; just the chimney stack. This chimney base looks to be much older than the smaller chimney on the east end. But how did it all tie together?

Whenever I'm down there, I love looking at how the parlor floorboards were gauged to nest nicely onto the tops of the floor beams.

I did take the time to clean out the cellar of the remaining previous owner remnants: 100 Canada Dry bottles and the handful of old bottles of champagne that you can see in the photo above. The champagne had long ago gone bad and looked like Coke as it poured down the drain.

The tree guys got to work this week. Weather permitting, they should be done early next week. -- Bill

December 12, 2004

To help make the details above a little easier to understand, here's a diagram of the foundation. If you roll over the image you will see the layout of the floor joists. (The number of joists and layout shown is a rough approximation!) The most noteworthy part of this framing is the fact that the framing under the center hall runs east-west, instead of north-south. This is repeated in the attic. Was this merely an aesthetic decision to enable floor boards in the center hall to run front to back? Or could the house have been a dog-trot? Essentially, two buildings that got joined together as one over time? Perhaps the large west chimney housed the cooking fireplace? Conjecture is welcome. Post it to the Forum! -- Bill

December 15, 2004

I found this great photo showing the exposed framing of the Ewing House in Williamsburg during its 1939 renovation. The Ewing House is a Dutch Colonial like Enon Hall, although a slight bit smaller. I was interested to see the corner downbracing and the fact that I don't see any downbracing on the interior walls. We, on the other hand, exposed some interior downbracing when we were working on the upstairs bathroom. -- Bill

December 17, 2004

In February of 2004, this was the view from the northeast corner of the house.

Today, that view looks like this with the newest change being the removal of the pine trees at the carport end of the house to make room for our addition. (The crew just finished up today after working 5 days!) I have never been a fan of these pine trees. They've been dropping limbs like crazy and several were leaning precariously after Isabel. However, I did expect it to be a bit startling to not see them anymore. Fortunately, it doesn't seem drastic at all. I like it a lot.

We also had a dead-as-a-doornail Sycamore removed from the backyard.

Yeah, I'd say it was dead. The stump is about 30 inches across. I'm sure William will have fun hollowing it out for something.

While at Enon Hall today I quickly dug out a small area at the front foundation wall to see what was going on under the patched areas where cellar windows seem to have been at some point.

I only had to go down three brick courses to reveal a window sill. But I'm not sure it's that old. Looks like cement. -- Bill

December 19, 2004

This has nothing to do with home restoration...but I had to share...

The three of us were sitting watching "White Christmas" when a commercial came on where a piano teacher squirms uncomfortably on the piano bench while her student struggles through her recital. The teacher has a pained expression on her face when she explains that she "shoulda used Preparation H." This made Gay and me laugh, and that lead to us having to explain to William what hemorroids are. He then joined us laughing and then stopped abruptly and asked, "So, the girl's bad piano playing gave the teacher hemorrioids?"

Uh...this is weird. It's now snowing like crazy...AND thundering and lightening! What the heck is that all about?? -- Bill

December 24, 2004

Arrggh... We got Gay's van back a couple weeks ago with a brand new transmission to the tune of $2,650. Then last night we were out looking at Christmas lights and hit a deer. (Reindeer?) Back in the shop she goes...crunched hood, broken headlight, etc. Oh well. Coulda been a lot worse.

Best wishes to everybody for a happy and SAFE holiday and a great new year. I know 2005 will be a year of great adventure for our family! -- Bill

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