Archive for the ‘House ogling’ Category

Washington Elementary House Walk

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Our grade school is hosting its annual house walk. Proceeds go to the library, and mean that there will be no selling of cookie dough or the like for us although the Little One was a top seller of Girl Scout cookies in her Daisy troop this year – she really enjoyed it.

We are still not ready to be on it unless somebody wants to tour a house with no windows or indoor plumbing or lights.* We do have rough-in plumbing and more than a mile of wiring installed.

Like last year, we’re hosting a house – the Hunts’ house, which I think of as the Januarys’** new house (since they bought it when they moved out of our house in about 1960). We haven’t been inside, but we’ve been in their garden when it was on a garden tour last spring. It is very French (as you might expect, since they own French Metro Antiques), with a brick wall around it, and has two beautiful Montmorency cherries. The cherries are probably what started me thinking about permaculture/sustainable agriculture/joys of having fresh fruit in your own yard.

Little One and Montmorency Cherry Tree June 2008 Montmorency Cherries French Hand Pump Under the Cherry Tree   The brochure has photos of this year’s houses, and here’s the list:

  • Jack and Anne Butt 526 E. Lafayette
  • U of A Chancellor Dave and Jane Gearhart 523 North Razorback
  • Terry and Renee Hunt 432 North Washington
  • John and Jennifer Lewis 137 S. Kestrel
  • Philip and Jennifer Maynard 315 N. Washington
  • Raymond Niblock 601 North Highland
  • Jan and Stacey Sturner 1 West Mount Nord
  • Reception and Refreshments at French Metro Antiques 200 West Dickson

This is a great collection of houses, both old (the Hunts’ house is pre-Civil War) and new (the Chancellor’s house is about a year old), for a great cause, so buy a ticket and take a tour. Tickets are available at French Metro Antiques, or at any of the houses the day of the tour.

*Strangely, we do seem to give a lot of tours of our house. The neighborhood seems to believe that a house with no plumbing, little electricity, and fewer and fewer windows every day is an improvement over the five-flat of college students that it was. (We stopped by the house yesterday morning, and three four windows in the living room were gone. I thought we weren’t doing those windows until we moved in, but apparently the siding needs to be replaced there, too. Don says the bright side is that we will only have to rebuild three or four windows after we move in. I guess that’s true. I’ll feel better after he’s put back one of the 87 gazillion we’ve taken out and rebuilt. I think he will, too.)

**Tom January stopped by our house last week while Don was there. He remembers watching the big house fire from Washington, and not being able to go home. He said his parents bought the house from two sisters, presumably the Brown sisters. Don thought he was pleased with how the house was going. (He didn’t think to ask whether he had any pictures of the house.) I think he’s going to stop by with his wife soon. I’d enjoy meeting him.

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2008 Quapaw Quarter Spring Tour of Historic Homes (Little Rock AR)

Friday, May 9th, 2008

We are so lucky.  Not only do we have the Washington Elementary House Walk on Saturday, but a historic homes tour in the Quapaw Quarter, Little Rock on Sunday, May 11.  And (grand)parents who are willing to keep the Little One for us!

A wide range of architectural styles will be represented including Prairie, Craftsman, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival. 

Y’all come! 

Per the brochure: This year’s tour homes include: the Charles E. Taylor House at 2312 Broadway; the Ault House at 2017 Arch; the Hill Cottage at 1913 Louisiana; the Young House at 2021 Arch; and Curran Hall at 615 East Capitol. Also featured will be a “not yet historic” urban style house (617 Cumberland) which was completed in 2006 and designed to be compatible with the surrounding historic district.  (The flyer also mentions several realtor open houses in the area.)

Sunday, May 11, 2008
2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m
Tickets $15
Purchase tickets in advance by phone (with Visa or Mastercard) at 501-371-0075 (Quapaw Quarter Association).  Purchase tickets on the day of the tour at Historic Curran Hall, 615 E. Capitol Street, and at the Young House (Robinwood, 2021 S. Arch St.) 

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Delta Ramble

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Don and I went on the AHPA Delta Ramble the end of March, and then I spent a while thinking I couldn’t upload photos so an entry about the trip was just frustrating. Now that we’re about to do two (!) house walks this weekend, I wanted to get this entry out of inventory.

Neither of us had been to the Delta in years. In 1993, I stopped in Cotton Plant, AR and did some antiquing, while on my way from Raleigh to Chicago via Magnolia, AR, but hadn’t been back, except to drive I-40 to Memphis after my grandmother’s memorial service. (Considerably cheaper to fly Chicago to Memphis than Little Rock that trip.) Don has been to Memphis (to see Graceland), but never been on the Arkansas side of the Delta.

The stretch of I-40 between Memphis and Little Rock is supposed to have the highest ratio of trucks to cars in the country, and you could feel it. The interstate felt like a washboarded gravel road. The water was (and is) still high in the White and the Mississippi. Nobody knows when it will recede.

Despite the rain, we had a great time, visiting the train depot in Brinkley (now the Central Delta Depot Museum and one of the last examples of a “union” station” in Arkansas), eating barbecue from Shadden’s Grocery* in Marvel, touring Helena, and seeing a great Italianate, Palmer’s Folly, out in the wilds near Blackton.

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We went to the Louisiana Purchase State Park and squished our way across 950 feet of board walk through a swamp to see a granite stone marking the site where the 5th Principle Meridian and a baseline intersected. This point was the basis for the surveys of Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and part of South Dakota. The actual site was ignored or lost from 1815 until the 1920s when two witness trees were found, which pointed the way to this swamp.


In Helena, we visited the Delta Cultural Center, the Moore-Hornor House, the cemetery, and shopped and toured Cherry Street (more architectural salvage — arts & crafts sconces for outside). We had a great dinner in the Pillow-Thompson House.

My camera seems to have focused on floors and finishes. I was especially excited to discover circle tiles. (Not hex, although the grout makes them look like hex.) I saw some in the Washington County [AR] courthouse, and have never seen them anywhere else. Until now. Aren’t they great? Anybody know where I can get some?




(OK, those last two are square tiles, but I like them, too.)

* Shadden’s was reviewed by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette** last spring, as part of a barbecue road trip through the Arkansas Delta. Don and I thought then it would be neat to go out that way, but we hadn’t yet. Apparently, Shadden’s is famous even farther afield since an Austin columnist knows its barbecue. And John T. Edge does, too. The internet is an interesting place, where you learn about the Southern Foodways Alliance in Oxford, MS just by following links from one place to another. (The SFA is hosting a field trip to Chicago to showcase Southern Food “up south.” Ever hear of a mother-in-law sandwich? Me, neither. And I lived in Chicago thirteen years. It seems to be a tamale in a hot dog bun, and part of Southern Food up south.)

**The Dem Gaz story doesn’t seem to be online, but this is a related piece. Note that there is a recipe for Shadden’s sauce. It reminds me that I still need to do another entry about The Band. Maybe I’ll save that for another day.

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318 W Ila, Fayetteville, AR

Monday, May 5th, 2008

One of the houses on the Washington Elementary Tour of Homes (Saturday, May 10) is 318 W Ila. According to the Wilson Park Historic District survey, it was built in 1928, and is considered non-contributing to the historic nature of the district. (The house, shown below in a drive-by shooting, is not that tilty. It is, however, that long.)

318 W Ila318 W Ila

Joseph Taylor Strate, his wife Marie, and daughter Barbara lived there in 1930. He taught mechanical engineering, according to the census, so I expect he was faculty at the University of Arkansas. They were from Wisconsin and Illinois, and Barbara was born in Fargo, North Dakota (where Prof. Strate lived in at least 1910-1920). They moved to Ft. Collins, Colorado sometime before 1951, where Prof. Strate taught mechanical engineering at CSU, and eventually made department head. Both Prof. and Mrs. Strate died in the late 1980s.

Don and I will host this house, now owned by Rolf and Ceri Wilkins, for the early shift. Come by and say hi, if you want. Otherwise, come by and ogle the house. It’s for a good cause.

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Washington Elementary House Walk May 10

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

Washington Elementary PTA is hosting a Tour of Homes.
Event Date: Saturday, May 10
Event Time: Noon to 5pm

Homes featured on the tour:

  • Bryan & Laureen Benafield, 217 E Sutton
  • Bill & Carol Eaton, 412 E Lafayette
  • Dale & Marilyn Green, 1035 N Park
  • JF & Cindy Meullenet, 303 E Sutton
  • Steven & Melissa Rogers, 40 W Prospect
  • Tom & Tammy Smith, 847 N Park
  • Rolf & Ceri Wilkin, 318 W Ila*

Refreshments at French Metro Antiques, 200 W Dickson.

Admission $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

Tickets available at:

  • French Metro Antiques, 200 W Dickson;
  • Downtown Bank of Fayetteville, 1 S. Block on the Square;
  • The Gift House, 525 N Mission Blvd.

*Don and I are hosting the Wilkin house on Ila from 11:45 – 2:30, so come on by and say hi. (Or don’t say “hi” if you’re shy, but come by and spy on us if you want.) The money goes to a really great cause: Preventing us from having to sell cookie dough.

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San Diego with Excuses

Friday, April 18th, 2008

We were in San Diego the end of February, and then I needed a week to uncover my desk. And a week for Easter. And a week to re-cover my desk. And then we went to the Delta. And came back. And once I started to write again, the blog experienced technical difficulties in the middle of this post. (My computer now refuses to give me the thumbnail option. My brother can’t diagnose it long-distance. So, I’m working around the problem by uploading only thumbnailish-sized photos. Let me know how irritating it is. Huh. After re-exporting my San Diego photos as smaller jpg’s and uploading them, the computer now offers me thumbnails. Maybe it was a flaw in the way I exported them from iPhoto. Oh well. They’ll still mostly be smallish, I guess, just so I can finish this post and get on with life.)

So, San Diego six weeks later.

Sunday we spent with a college friend and her family. We went to La Jolla, and saw pelicans, seals, and a retaining wall with abalone shells. (Maybe we can do some concrete work like this.  Only with indigenous materials like beer bottles and pull tabs.)  Also the Scripps Aquarium.

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We also rode the trolley (everywhere), ate Italian pastries for breakfast, walked along the beach, watched the sunset, and admired preschool pizza chefs.

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Don toured the Marston House while I conferenced. I saw the Marston House Gardens. He said it was a great Arts & Crafts house. The gardens were quite formal.


We bought some architectural salvage, too. (We are such house geeks. My mother in law sent us some money to spend any way we wanted to in San Diego, and we bought drawer pulls with it.)

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We had a little rain, enough that the natives complained, but we didn’t mind. Mostly, we had blue skies and good times.

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Eastern Arkansas Ramble through the Delta

Friday, March 21st, 2008

Don and I have been talking for a couple of months about going to Helena-West Helena, to see what a Mississippi River town looks like. Now, we can!

The Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas is rambling to the Dynamic Delta March 29th, and Don and I are going. Brinkley, Blackton, Marvel and Helena are on the tour. It starts way too early Saturday morning (8 a.m. in Little Rock – 3 hours from home), but, at least for the Christmas ramble, there was orange juice (and mimosas!) and doughnuts on the tour bus, along with something to eat everywhere we stopped. Plus old houses! And people who like them! Can’t miss with that combination. At least for me.

Y’all come on if you want to join us — there’s still room on the bus, and the HPAA people are friendly.

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Kitchen sink in powder room?

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

We went to the Arkansas Historic Preservation Alliance Conference in North Little Rock this fall.  Well, Don did.  I drove down Friday night for the Saturday house tours.  (I love spying on other people’s houses.)  Besides drinking mimosas and getting to know North Little Rock, we saw a way to repurpose a kitchen sink with drainboard into a powder room sink. 


Don’t you like the curved corners on the cabinet to match the curves on the sink?  I believe the homeowner said it took his carpenter four full days to build.

We just happen to have a sink with drainboard in our Apartment 5 with the porcelain in pretty good shape.


And I think it will wind up somewhere like that.  Unless it winds up in our kitchen, of course. 

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Reducing square footage. Good idea?

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Inspiration Exterior dscn0477jpg-copy.jpg

Two-thirds of the front of our house used to be open porches. The decking of the upstairs front porch is still sticking out between the first and second floors. I was coming back from a visit with a client one afternoon, and I looked up and saw an exact match (above, right)for our house. If you exclude the double gables and walk-out basement in front and windows arrangement and so forth. At least, it has two-thirds of the front open, with a center entry.

Now Don and I are talking about putting the porches back. Screened to keep the mosquitos out. With easy house access. And probably keeping the large number of windows. The lower porch would be connected to the dining room. (I think Don said the old footprint would have been 15×8, which should be big enough for outdoor dining and people watching.) The upper porch to the master bedroom. Probably. Maybe with those huge sliding/folding glass doors that I remember from Chicago bars and restaurants. Or just some nice lockable French doors. And it woud feel a bit like a treehouse. Especially once we get our dead trees replaced and regrown.

Reducing square footage, while hoping to increase the house’s value.  Well, it will be more valuable to us. :)   So, it should be a good idea.

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House Movies

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

No charring stories today although they certainly increased readership yesterday. Last Friday, just before we bought our latest house, we watched Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House via the TiVO equivalent you get with expensive cable, which made me think about classic house remodeling movies. (Blandings was on Turner Classic Movies, and the guest co-host was Martha Stewart. Her other selections, Enchanted April, Madame Bovary, and Anna Karenina, had not so much to do with houses.)  We are always watching houses in old movies, but not many focus on the, ahem, glamour** that causes you to buy an old, tired house.

If you haven’t seen Blandings, the house was bought for love, and soon was torn down (after three structural engineers said there was nothing savable). Things only get worse, but eventually they get better. (In contrast, the remake, with Tom Hanks and Shelley Long, features the struggles to actually salvage the house.)

A classic exchange between homeowner and contractor:

Mrs. Blandings: I want it to be a soft green, not as blue-green as a robin’s egg, but not as yellow-green as daffodil buds. Now, the only sample I could get is a little too yellow, but don’t let whoever does it go to the other extreme and get it too blue. It should just be a sort of grayish-yellow-green.

Now, the dining room. I’d like yellow. Not just yellow; a very gay yellow. Something bright and sunshine-y. I tell you, Mr. PeDelford, if you’ll send one of your men to the grocer for a pound of their best butter, and match that exactly, you can’t go wrong!

Now, this is the paper we’re going to use in the hall. It’s flowered, but I don’t want the ceiling to match any of the colors of the flowers. There’s some little dots in the background, and it’s these dots I want you to match. Not the little greenish dot near the hollyhock leaf, but the little bluish dot between the rosebud and the delphinium blossom. Is that clear?

Now the kitchen is to be white. Not a cold, antiseptic hospital white. A little warmer, but, still, not to suggest any other color but white. Now for the powder room – in here – I want you to match this thread, and don’t lose it. It’s the only spool I have and I had an awful time finding it! As you can see, it’s practically an apple red. Somewhere between a healthy winesap and an unripened Jonathan. Oh, excuse me…

Contractor (Mr. PeDelford): You got that, Charlie?

Subcontractor (Charlie): Red, green, blue, yellow, white.

Blandings* and its remake, The Money Pit come quickly to mind as examples of house remodeling movies, but there is a third one, which I thought of because of the season: It’s a Wonderful Life. (It’s on this Friday night on NBC.)

In It’s a Wonderful Life, you may remember Mary breaking a window on a vacant Second Empire house after that pivotal evening at the dance, and wishing for something. It turns out that she was wishing to live in that vacant house with George. You may even remember another pivotal scene where the ball on the newel post comes off in George’s hand. That was just about the last straw before he left for a drive … and got into the heart of the movie. When it fell off again after the angel intervention, he kissed it. Guess it is all about attitude.  Here’s hoping for the post-angel-intervention attitude for our house.  Except not too much — I would like our house to be more habitable than it is now.

*Besides starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy as the Blandings, Blandings’ contractor was named John W. Retch, and was played by Jason Robards (to become Sr. to Jason Robards, Jr.)

** Glamour in the sense of casting a spell over the future homeowner.

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