Nope, it isn't a tunnel created by resident woodchucks. It's a trench dug to bury unsightly conduits for electric, phone and cable wires.
When the weather is fine, the painters work on the exterior, removing the shutters to be repaired, scraping ancient paint from sashes, replacing broken glass in the windows. "Ninety six windows!" I commiserate. "103," Jason corrects, knowingly.
We visit Salisbury's historic Town Hall to purchase a ticket for the town transfer station (euphemism for dump.) Walking down a long hallway, we see a photo of John Krom Rudd, the last family member who lived in the house, on the wall in a gallery of town residents. In the portrait, he is standing next to the front door we are about to replace with double doors found in the basement. Those doors were original to the house, replaced by the single door (pictured) in 1915 when the house was "modernized." We will save the single door (with its brass knocker engraved with JKR) because perhaps, a century from now, our great-great-grandchildren will want it, wondering whatever had possessed us to remove it.
Mr. Rudd's caption is a lovely glimpse into turn of the (other) century Lakeville: Somewhere around 1928 we had the first sound movie in Lakeville at the Stuart Theater. I went with Mother and Dad to see (and hear) Al Jolson in “The Jazz Singer.” The movie was on conventional film but the sound wasn’t on a sound track. It was on a Victrola record that was supposed to synchronize with the movie—it didn’t.
The first roof we're replacing is over the garage which has been temporarily transformed into a carpentry shop. The garage isn't your ordinary drywall contruction, its walls are hand-hewn chestnut about 140 years old, built some time after the house was erected. Rob guesses it was originally a "mini-barn" used as storage for grain, and as shelter for horses and small livestock. The livestock were kept in stalls on the second floor. How'd they get them upstairs? They hauled them through a 4 x 4 trapdoor in the floor using a clever block and tackle system. Remnants of the system remain, including a hook with marks that mean it's hand forged. Rob also found an inscription by an attic philsopher: "We come and go." A tweet from 1934.
My parents and sister visit from out of town today and discover something we've never noticed in the cupola: on the ceiling, in a flourish of old-fashioned penmanship is the signature of Malcolm Day Rudd, grandson of Governor Holley, dated September 1, 1901.
Chris did find old sinks, courtesy of Walter who owns a shop called Old School Plumbing, based aptly in an 1870s schoolhouse that he renovated himself. He's the source of rare vintage sinks and fittings. "The faucets in Mark Twain's butler's pantry came from my shop!"
We're tunneling under the clapboard extension to run cable and power lines and discover a family already in residence: about eight woodchucks have been making their home under the kitchen. Bill pulls out his cellphone and grabs a shot of Mom and Dad as they come out to investigate the commotion.
One of the unanticipated pleasures of buying the house has been connecting with new neighbors, some of whom are also historic property enthusiasts. This weekend, we were invited to a celebration of Salisbury's historic homes at the Old Bushnell Tavern which I looked for in vain, driving up and down Main Street before realizing that it hasn't been a tavern for years. Outside this landmark house, Historic District Commissioner Digby Brown holds up a plaque being developed to designate historic homes in the area.
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.