Happily, the only impact of the hurricane at Holleywood was the unseasonable return of the vernal ponds. Some say the ponds formed originally because so much stone was extracted from the ground for building. Others contend that the ponds are a recent phenomenon. But this is belied by the photo below, from a 1930s glass plate found by Cynthia Hochswender in the archives of the Lakeville Journal. The photo shows that the ponds were alive and well-filled back when the west entrance was used as a formal driveway.
The tower was staged today. Scaffolding was erected to provide working platforms for redoing the stucco, the roof and the windows. The staging was supposed to take place last Friday, but the staging company cancelled all jobs because of Irene. Good call.
Luckily, the new metal roof was finished just before Hurricane Irene showed up. Our farmhouse in Amenia flooded, but Holleywood stayed dry as a bone. We are grateful to Governor Holley for having the foresight and wherewithal to build his house on blocks of impervious limestone.
photo credit: Bill Sigsworth
Here is Chris the mason on the roof, working on new chimney linings. One is for the furnace, the other is for the coal stove in the kitchen. He and Bill are running new stainless liners down the chimneys, all the way down in one piece. They're called flexible liners but, unfortunately, they're not flexible enough to get around nooks and jogs in the brick without a massive amount of effort.
Rob shields the lakeside livingroom windows with plywood in preparation for Hurricane Irene that's supposed to hit Sunday. No D-batteries in stock for 50 miles. Long waiting lists for generators. Earthquake...hurricane...what's next, locusts?
On the third floor, in a room where a cistern used to be, there's a wall that used to be an exterior. A cross section of the wall tells us what the original house was like: 2 layers of stucco, chestnut post and beam "that was deadly accurate, totally plumb," Rob says. "The masons who built this house were dead on." The color of the stucco is darker than the stucco on the house's exterior now, no doubt because it's taken a century less weatherbeating.
We're installing a bathroom on the third floor, and between boards pried apart, you can see down to the lathing on the floor below. Unlike most pre-Civil War builders, Holleyood's craftsmen didn't skimp on flooring as they went up. These floorboards are hemlock and exceedingly thick. The electrician took time to figure out which floorboards were taken up in 1915 when original wiring was inserted and takes care to pull the same boards to minimize disruption.
In the basement (next to the gravestone) is what remains of an old darkroom. The seller's father was an avid photographer who built a room in which he could develop pictures long before pictures learned to develop themselves. As a photo enthusiast who also spent years thrilling to the toxic fumes of D-76, I am grateful that these items didn't disappear in the tag sale.
who we are
We are a couple of Upper West Siders from NYC who never set out to buy an old mansion in Connecticut. But the moment we walked through its massive front door, we were smitten. The info on this site is earnestly cobbled from a variety of sources, including the web. Please let us know if we've gotten something wrong, or if there's a story about Holleywood you'd like to share.