Sunday, June 18, 2017

Leaf Lessons

It was about right here that I first noticed it,
several yards up the road.


Do you see it?


I couldn't figure out what it was...


until I got closer.


It was a leaf, a tiny red leaf. A little red leaf wouldn't be
unusual in October, but in June?


I looked around, but couldn't find anything with red leaves,
only the vibrant greens of early summer.


A closer inspection revealed not only the brilliant red color,
but a few imperfections as well.


As I walked, I pondered this little red leaf. It was unconcerned about being the only thing red in a world of grey and green. The fact that there were no others like it didn't keep it from being true to its beautiful, red self. Nor was it hiding its blemishes.


The conclusion I came to is this: as a Christian,
I should be more like this tiny leaf!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Touring History: The Major John A. Wallace Cottage

If you had asked me about the Major John A. Wallace Cottage before the Monroe County Historic Homes Tour, I wouldn't have been able to tell you a thing. You see, I didn't know this humble little house from my childhood had a name, let alone any historical significance. This photo was stuck on the refrigerator in the cottage kitchen and it is exactly how I remember the house from 40 years ago, give or take a few.


It sits directly across the street from the Sarver house.

The Sarver House

Like us Martins, the Sarvers had three girls the same ages as my sisters and me. We played together often, as our houses were only two streets apart. There are some good stories of our adventures, but that's another post...

Connie and I walked the short distance from the General John Echols house to the Wallace cottage. As we approached, I could easily tell that sometime after I left Union in the early 1980s, the tiny house received a complete and much-needed makeover. 



The Wallace Cottage was built in 1854, according to the printed tour guide sheet: "John Wallace was the owner/operator of the Wallace Business College in pre-Civil War Union. The current owners of this tiny cottage have restored the building with a Greenbrier Hotel-inspired interior, featuring Dorothy Draper-style colors and details." The Greenbrier Hotel is about 18 miles from Union, where you can see the work of famous decorator Dorothy Draper, but this little place is wonderfully done in her colorful style.

The front door opens right into the small living room. Come to think of it, the front door is the only door!


The first thing I noticed was the fireplace, to the right, maybe because the fire was so welcome on such a chilly day.


To the right of the fireplace was this cabinet:


The lamp caught my eye, too. I like vintage lamps. Vibrant colors were everywhere - check out the surface of the table the lamp is sitting on.


There was an inviting sofa facing the fireplace, and beyond that another interesting cabinet. The open door with the brass handle in the extreme left of this photo is the front door, which gives you an idea of how little the room is.




The doorway under the stairs lead to the kitchen.


Like the living room, it's a little kitchen with color and whimsy everywhere.





To the right of the fireplace was the sink, the stove, and some cabinets.


To the left of the fireplace was another vintage cabinet. The window in this photo is on the front of the house.



You can see the doorway (on the left) that leads back into the living room in this photo.


To the right of the kitchen stove, a door lead to a pink bedroom on the back of the house.




The bedside table had another delightful lamp.


And on top of yet another vintage green cabinet was a nod to the cottage decor's inspiration: a hat box from a shop at The Greenbrier.


Just off this cozy retreat was a tiny, but complete bath.





From here we retraced our steps to the living room. In the front corner was a narrow staircase leading to, believe it or not, a second floor!


A small table sat at the foot of the stairs (behind the front door), adorned with, of all things, a pink and black high-heeled shoe! A Barbie doll was also there. The amazing thing was, all these eclectic things looked completely normal and at home.


At the top of the stairs we found wavy and uneven floors, tell-tale signs of the 163 years of use the cottage has seen. There was a twin bed in the small hallway, and another tiny bath.



Passing through the hallway/bedroom, we came into the last room of the house. Here we found another bedroom, this one with a full size bed.


This little guy held the door open,


and above the fireplace were some very unusual mounts. They appeared to be made of felted wool. And who would have though of decorating the mantle with vintage flower pots!


Throughout the house were white board ceilings, original wood floors, and colorful rugs. Every room exuded welcome, whimsy, and delight. Multiple colors, patterns, and styles came together in a harmonious decor that stimulated the senses and soothed the mind at the same time. It's a style I don't think I could ever achieve, but I had no trouble at all enjoying every inch of it. And to think all of this is now inside that once-neglected little house...who knew??!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Touring History: The Gen. John Echols House

When my sister and I left The Dransfield Store, we continued on to our next chosen stop on the Monroe Co. (WV) Historic Homes Tour. Back in Union, where we grew up, we visited the General John Echols House. We know it better as "the Boone house." Connie can remember Papa Boone, but I don't. The Dillons and the Maseys are who I remember.


Back in the 1960s, Julia Dillon lived here with her mother, Eunice. Julia was beautiful, probably in her early twenties, and seemingly everything a little girl like me dreamed of being. I vividly remember attending her wedding at the Presbyterian church nearby (not the one in the background - that's the Episcopal church), and walking with many of the other guests to this house, where the reception was held. It was quite exciting to an seven-year-old girl like me when Julia threw her bridal bouquet from the upper porch.

Look what I found in my first scrapbook! It's the article about Julia Dillon's wedding
from our local newspaper, plus the printed napkin from her reception.

Julia had two older sisters: Peggy and Mary Lou. The Sarver girls and us Martin girls have them to thank for a magnificent box of dress-up clothes. Left over from the Dillon girls' heyday in the 50s and 60s (maybe even some from the 40s), there were party dresses, shoes, stoles...everything we needed to boost our imaginations.

JoAnn Sarver on the left, then my sister Connie, Peggy Sarver, and my sister Janie. I'm not in the photo
because I was three months old when it was taken. Not to worry, though. There were plenty of
dress-up clothes left by the time I was old enough to join the fun.

When the Dillons lived there, the house was configured for a small apartment on the side, where the Masey family lived. Many of the neighborhood kids came to play with their only daughter, Karla. They had an above-ground pool in the big side yard, which we all loved.

Now, the house is still a private residence and has been renovated and beautifully decorated. Photography was not allowed inside, which I completely understand, but the shutterbug in me was a bit disappointed. However, it was nice to just drink in the loveliness without trying to get a good shot of everything. It was probably a lot quicker, too!

The house was built in 1846, as noted on the plaque by the front door.


The tour description says that the house is a "two-story Greek Revival with hipped roof and four prominent chimneys."


A framed building on the property is believed to have been servant quarters. There used to be an old garage in the back...I'm wondering if it's still there, and if that is the building referred to. There is a marker that explains the historic significance of the house:




Inside this grand old house, there are high ceilings, hardwood floors, a grand staircase, and at least ten rooms, not counting bathrooms. The furnishings and art are gorgeous - definitely magazine-worthy - but even so, there are family photographs, books by the bed, and spices in the kitchen cupboard, all signs that it's still a home, after all.

A few years ago, I wandered around Union with my camera one evening and came home with these photos.




There is something about stately old houses that inspires awe and homey comfort, all at the same time. The General John Echols house is one of those. I'm grateful it has a place in my memories of a mid-century childhood, and grateful for the opportunity to see it in all it's restored glory.


Next stop on our tour: The Major John A. Wallace Cottage...just wait til you see it!!