I am convinced Oliver W. Holmes’s statement, “houses hold on to those who have lived within their walls,” is indeed accurate and appropriate to this day. While recently visiting an old rural home, I put on my architectural forensics hat, and revealed to the current owners that indeed their old home held on to features of past generations and owners. This one house, though heavily updated, retained elements of mid-19th century architecture from a post Civil War remodeling and from updates in the 21st century. Each family that had lived there over the course of nearly two hundred years had left their footprints. A few family pieces of furniture were even intact and on display, although it seemed no one wanted the old antebellum furniture. One piece was made by a local cabinet maker, whose work is documented but whose name remains a mystery.
Several years ago, in an earlier blog post, we strongly suggested our homes do hold a piece of us long after we have moved on. We heard from several subscribers who stated they were of like mind! What was unusual was that we also received a visit from a friend, telling of his trip to Georgia, to document an antebellum home that remains in the same family, having had little or no changes. Remarkably the house retains many of the original furnishings and the entire estate is kept intact as an evolution of family heritage. The home is not open to the public and appears to be one of the best-kept secrets in preservation!
As our society continues to become increasingly mobile, this type of situation will be seen even less often. Multi-generational homeplaces unfortunately are becoming a rarity, while prior to WWII, they were extremely common. Uncovering ghost marks, wall paintings, attic signatures and vestiges of inter-generational living is clearly becoming a rarity in modern society where we frequently paint and remodel. As my visitor explained, he spent days at this one antebellum Georgia home photographing and hopes to return for several more visits just to document this remarkable private museum.
Are you aware of sites similar to this one in the Southeast? Roots & Recall would cherish the opportunity to help document this type of household and the architecture in which it is housed, the stories it holds, and the history it preserves under one roof. As of now, our web site has some 33,000 sites posted and it is this type experience many of R&R’s members enjoy most. What is in your backyard that is worth sharing?
Read about the cabin and its architectural features at: Cork Cabin
R&R Note: Two of R&R’s upcoming feature articles are of great interest to those who love local history. The feature for November showcases a couple who loves their historic home as well as their ecological farm. And interestingly, the December article will discuss the massive amount of mapping produced by the Soviet Union related to the U.S. These maps are remarkably accurate and encompass every aspect of our cities. What a great story and spotlight on old maps.
And it was a pleasure being in Old 96 Historic District this week and meeting author-historian Jody Patrick, a R&R contributor. What a fine gentleman!