The Little Things…

I often wonder about the characters who lived in this grand house decades ago. What were their lives like? Now and then, we get a tiny peek – whether it is a date etched in the cement, a name scribbled on the back of a baseboard, or a small discovered treasure.

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Baseboard with original owner name
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Back patio concrete – 1925?

When we were removing what we think was a built-in wooden laundry box/hamper from Chloe’s closet, we found some tiny cards that had been tucked behind the wood.  At some point, they must have fallen through the space between the box and the wall.  There are four cards that appeared to be part of some kind of game. Chloe did a bit of research, and she found out that they were from a board game called Uncle Wiggily.

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More research uncovered that this was a game that was created in 1916.  Apparently it was based on a book series and Uncle Wiggily was one of the characters. According to the website www.gameaisle.com, Howard Garis, an American writer, created a series that ran daily in the Newark News. The series had a cast of characters including an elderly rabbit (Uncle Wiggily Longears) and friends: Baby Bunny, Skiller Scaller, Alligator, and Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy.  January 10, 1910 marked the first day of the series’ publication and it eventually became nationally syndicated with over 15,000 stories during its run. The popular series spawned a board game, which was first introduced in 1916 by Milton Bradley.  The cards we found look similar to following online images of the original game (circa 1916-1920).

Sometimes something as small as a couple of game pieces can provide a whimsical glimpse into the past.

 

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Merry and Bright: The Creation of Mistletoe Corner

During our November Supper Club meeting, conversation turned to the topic of decorating our intersection for Christmas.  Some members of the group (the guys) got really excited about lights and a scissor lift – oh think of what we could do…

Well, the contingent got to work.  It entailed online researching and shopping, product and price comparing.  And, lots of texting back and forth. Finally the plan was set, the products were purchased, and the scissor lift secured. Garland, heavy gauge wire, strings of lights, and 12 large hanging stars were on their way to Pine and Linden.

The goodies arrived, and on a balmy afternoon at the end of November, these Santa’s elves got to work. There was a lot of measuring, drilling, stringing, wrapping, zip-tying, road blocking, traffic stopping, and finally, installing and hanging. Of course all interlaced with laughter and good neighborhood fun!

Wrapping the garland and lights around the wire and zip-tying for good measure.

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We got some additional neighborly advice/direction.

Jake, Slaten, and Dave were the primary scissor lift operators/riders.  The garland needed to be attached to the poles and/or trees.  The final touch: the five mistletoe bunches: one in the middle and one in each of the four corners.

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Lots of teamwork!

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Phase 2 – hanging the 12 large stars took place a couple of nights later.

The result?  Requests from neighbors to complete the same thing on their intersection and lots of cars slowing down as they roll through the intersection (even in the middle of the day).  Hey, what’s not to love about some bright stars and festive lights in the month of December?

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The Fresno High Holiday Home Tour 2017

This fall, we were approached by the organizers of the Fresno High Holiday Home tour, which raises money for projects in the Fresno High neighborhood and for Fresno High student scholarships.  Happy to share the house and its history with others, we said yes and embarked on readying the house for its visitors.

This meant getting into deep cleaning and Christmas decorating mode immediately after Thanksgiving – tree(s), additional ornaments, stockings, candles, more outside lights, table settings, etc. Everyone pitched in as no room was off limits to tour attendees. Throughout the preparation, we worked with a home chairperson and provided them with house descriptions and historical information. We also coordinated traffic flow and safety plans.

 

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The tour annually draws several hundred people, so there is a lot that goes into organizing the event. Fresno High School students volunteered as docents and received an evening of training. The house even had its own professional photoshoot. The pictures can also be seen below:

 

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On the night of the tour, we vacated the house, and let the volunteers take over. Members of the Fresno High band played Christmas music on the porch. The student volunteers were assigned rooms and were placed accordingly. Each student provided tour goers information (historical and present) about their area of the house.  Adults were also on hand to help with crowd control and security.

 

It was a bit strange not being present on the night of the event, but for this one, the house was the host and had the party without us!

 

Room by Room – the Great Room

A wonderful feature of this old house is the grand living room. It is huge!  Several comments have been made about pushing the furniture against the wall and holding a full-fledged dance party.  It could happen.

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In the process of restoring the floors.

This room has a grand old fireplace with intricate wood detail and two sets of French doors (one to the front porch and one to the back yard). We have not used the fireplace as we do not know the condition of the chimney and there are very few wood burn days in the Central Valley.  The wood trim and the crown molding continue in this room and add to its character.

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The wood floor in this room is also spectacular – old growth timber, quarter cut, gorgeous patterns. When Tim, our floor restorer, saw the floor in this room, he said not to let anyone else touch it – he wanted to be the one to bring it back to life.  We all agree that he did a great job!

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One of many designs in the floor

We elected not to penetrate the ceiling to install built in light for this room. This meant less holes (and less expense).  However, now we need to add more floor and table lamps as the lighting is just a little too subdued.

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Minor wall penetrations for this room!

There was no wallpaper in this room (thank goodness!), but it was painted a washed out shade of yellow and the crown molding had a wide blue stripe.  As  result, the fine wood trim and molding were not well showcased. In addition, the bold stripe in the crown molding made the ceiling feel lower.

Before…

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Painting the trim in the room would have been a huge job, so we cleaned it up a bit and decided to paint the walls a shade of latte. This color is enough to provide some contrast and really highlights the trim.

After…

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We have enjoyed hanging pictures in this room (and in the dining room and entry as well) using the original picture rail molding.  We purchased picture rail hooks and wire, which allow us to hang pictures without making holes in the plaster walls.  If we want to change the location of a picture, we can just slide the picture rail hook along the molding.  Cool.

 

Room by Room: The Front Entry and Stairwell

We love the grand entry of this old house.  From the outside, the large front porch and red door flanked by stained glass windows and lamp-post light fixtures welcomes one upon arrival.

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Shortly after moving in, we realized that although the original mail slot, allowing the mail to be directly deposited onto the inside floor, was quaint, it was also rather impractical.  The size was barely wide enough to fit a business size letter.  Most days, the mail carrier’s only option was to leave the mail on the cement beside the pillar.  Looking ahead to cooler days, a windy or rainy weather would not bode well for any stack of mail left there.

As a result, we found a larger, more durable and secure box that we were able to mount on the wall next to the door.  We tried to find one that would match the characteristics of a colonial revival home.  We are very happy with our locked box which accommodates larger pieces of mail. And, rumor has it the mail carrier is much happier being able to actually put our mail into something rather than leaving it out on the ground.

 

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Once inside the house, the most extensive change to the entry was the addition of lights! Originally there were no lights in the entry or the stairwell, which made for a somewhat dark welcome.  We added an overhead light right inside the door and another light in the stairwell.  Needless to say, this brightened things up immensely.  Again, we looked for something that would honor the colonial revival architecture of the house. We we able to find coordinating fixtures in this flush mount for the entry and a pendent for the stairwell).

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Another noticeable change we made to the entry was to refinish the floors and add color.  The faux marble wallpaper and yellow trim have been replaced by Sherwin-William’s “meditative blue” on the walls and “alabaster” for the trim.  Painting the entire trim one color really highlights it and provides a nice contrast to the walls.  The detail of the stained glass windows are also highlighted nicely with these colors.

Alabaster was also used on the spindles of the banister and beige (Sherwin William’s killiam biege) was used for the walls of the stairwell. This lighter color compliments the blue of the entry, contrasts the darker shade of the wood landing and stairs, and make the stairwell feel more open.

Before:

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After:

 

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Monday Musing

After a quiet weekend, Monday is back with the sounds of hammering, sawing, and drilling.  Before I left this morning, our crew was moving furniture out of the breakfast nook, so I knew that could be where we might see some progress today. We haven’t had any power in that room for a couple of weeks, so I am excited!

When I returned home this afternoon, I could see that they had been busy working. The dining room now houses our kitchen table and has a makeshift light.  The breakfast nook and the sun room are covered in plastic.

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The kitchen is apparently off limits according to this not so very subtle sign.

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Lead paint is part of occupying an old home, and our crew takes this very seriously. I am thinking we might be eating out tonight!

There may have been an absence of power tools humming on the weekend, but that didn’t mean there was an absence of work.  Project wallpaper removal was in full swing, and we are happy to say the psychedelic stripes are no more!

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One room down, many, many more to go…