We were super excited to host many of Dr. Richard Stuart's descendants this fall at Cleydael. The family reunion was organized by Betsy Stuart Valentine and included Senator Stuart, his family, and many of their relatives. The Stuart family toured our house and enjoyed our sharing of the joys and challenges of the restoration of Cleydael. We're sure they left confident that Cleydael is in good hands! :)
It was great greeting visitors from the Surratt House Tour today! We so love sharing the house with lovers of history, like ourselves. Charlie has been very busy since my last post. He is currently working on the reconstruction of the back porch (original front porch). He ordered Douglas Fir tongue and groove decking boards and went to the trouble of dipping each board in water sealant, then priming each before laying them with caulk in between each board. That extra work should ensure the porch lasts a good long time. Charlie also finished the trim in the kitchen, built a playground for our Grandkids, and built a three bin holding area for mulch, topsoil, and crush and run. He has been very busy indeed! We also had a 22' X 40' concrete slab poured for the Grandkids to ride bikes on, play basketball and four square on, and of course, draw with chalk on. We expect he will finish the back porch in the next couple of weeks and if the weather allows, he will patch a spot on the front of the house with some fresh paint and then see about ordering some storm windows we found on line that work well with old homes with varying window sizes. It would be great to have storms up for better insulation and reduction of the heating and w=air bills! We only have three tours this September but look forward to every one of them. Hard to believe we've been here five years! Time flies when you're loving life!
'Once again, it's been far too long since we've posted. Time flies when you're restoring! Charlie had metal roofing installed on the back porch which completed all rooftop replacements. He has begun work on the flooring of the back porch and in the process, discovered that the foundation beam under the main door facing the South side of the house is completely rotted and needs to be replaced. This explains why the door has become harder to close with time. Charlie's plan is to replace the beam with a piece of oak from a tree that fell on the property last year.
The kitchen ceiling is being covered with bead board---that process began this past week. This will take more time than originally thought as Charlie is meticulous about the cutting of the angles, etc. The bead board will be painted white, the ceiling fan/light installed, and the ceiling will be complete aside from some finishing moulding that we haven't decided on at the top of the wall board. The top beam (original to the kitchen) will be left exposed.
We are still hoping to get to the painting of the front of the house before the weather turns cool again. We won't be concerned about the approaching winter this year as all four fireplaces have been opened and the chimneys relined! There are two fireplaces on each floor so we decided to leave the fireplace in the living room open and use wood stovesin the remaining three to maximize the heat output in the winter. It was WONDERFUL burning wood at the end of this past winter once they were finished with the install!
We decided to put in a garden this spring----I've wanted to grow all kinds of vegetables for so long but never had the space. We started small with a 15' by 14' garden and planted tomatoes, corn, green beans, red onions, green peppers, watermelon, and canteloupe and I'm happy to say that we had great success with all veggies and are anxiously waiting for the ears of corn to finish their growth! We think we may double the size of the garden next year!
There are still many items on the "To Do" list but the work is very satifying for both of us and we wouldn't have it any other way. We love this place and its history! Looking forward to sharing the house with those touring with the Suratt House this fall!
The Fall tours went very well. We are always excited to find visitors that have been to the house before we purchased it and fortunately, we find a return tour taker on almost every tour. Charlie spent the summer replacing all the rafters in the front porch roof and had a new metal roof put on top. He then finished the repairs on the back porch roof and we are scheduled for metal to be placed on that roof soon. We are super excited to share that the chimneys will be relined and all four chimneys opened! The work begins this Monday!!! The kitchen is being finished with a new ceiling with bead board this winter. The kitchen will be complete by the time of the spring tours. The wife of the developer of Cleydael, Joy Veazey, gave us many Iris and Black Eyed Susan bulbs to add to the beauty of Spring in 2016. Plans for the spring and sumer include touching up the paint on the front of the house, painting the pasture fences, and planting more fruit trees andperennials.
Wow! We had over 700 people tour the property this past spring! Charlie is working to repair the front porch roof and touch up the paint on the front of the house in the process. Hopefully, he will finish this project be fore the fall tours.
It has been some time since our last post and much has happened. Charlie spent much of the late summer and all of fall re-wiring the bottom floor and a bit of the upper floor. He mapped out all of the circuits, decided which circuits needed additions or deletions of outlets, and got rid of the old wiring. It's wonderful not to have to worry about cloth wire insulation or overburdening a circuit! The outside of the mudroom and kitchen got fresh paint and looks wonderful. This spring, Charlie will scrape off the peeling paint off the front of the house above the front porch and put some fresh paint there. There are a few easy cosmetic touches we would like to finish in early spring such as lattice under the porch and fresh gravel on the driveway.
We planted two weeping willows on either end of the oval and the large maple in the front yard had to be cut down a couple of weeks ago as it was dying. I am excited to see the willows after a few years of growth. We also hung a tire swing and two regular swings for our Grandkids to play with. We will add much more playground equipment this spring and summer as tow of the three Grandkids are over two and the third is over one and walking. We are going to need LOTS of outdoor toys! I can't wait until they are old enough to play hide and seek in this house!!!
We are expecting more than the normal amount of tours this spring and we will be hosting a group of ghost hunters as well! It's sure to be a fun spring and summer and we will do our best to blog more often!!!
We've had a busy summer so far--Charlie had quite a job of installing new supports under the front porch in addition to removing and replacing both side steps and front steps. After removing the front steps, he decided to install a widened version of new stairs so that they span the distance between the first two set of columns and it turned out beautifully. He installed much needed railings for safety and of course they add to the beauty as well. He then began work on the front porch deck boards themselves, scraping off old paint and laying down fresh paint. It's almost finished but the first tour groups will be able to see the "before" and "after" of the deck boards as the far right side of the porch will not be complete before the first of the September tour groups visit. The inside has been updated a bit as well. Two of the bedrooms upstairs got a fresh coat of paint and that work is being wrapped up in the next couple of weekends.
We can't wait for the September tours to begin -- it's always exciting to talk to others about the history of the house and show off the work that will ensure the house will be standing strong for many years to come!
We are almost into June and the progress on the house is ongoing! The tours in April were wonderful---Charlie and I are always amazed at how many people take the Booth route tour and how excited they are to visit the various sites on the route. The work on the house is neverending and Charlie has accomplished so much since November! It's hard to believe we have been in the house almost two years. Since November, Charlie completed work on the clapboard outside the kitchen and mudroom--it's been caulked and is ready for paint. He added handrails to the front porch, installed our farm bell at the top of one of the hand rails, finished the second pantry in the mudroom, installed more bead board and trim in the mudroom to complete the closet that houses the hot water heater, replaced the plumbing in the upstairs bathroom, painted over the green paint on the roof of the front porch with black paint to match the main roof, installed a chalk board in the mudroom for the family to leave messages on (and for our Grandkids to play with once they are a bit older), planted pear and apple trees in one of the pastures, jacked up the back porch roof in preparation for repair/replacement, replaced/repaired the hinges on the all the pasture gates, and replaced all the missing boards around the small pasture so that our Great Dane (Lucy) could run free without escaping.
We so relish the time we spend on the front porch and playing in the yard! Our grown kids and grandkids are truly enjoying the beauty of the property and the fun the expanse of yard allows for. We will have a few more esthetic fixes completed before the September tours roll around and before we know it, we will be getting ready for the holidays again. Time flies! I will load some newer pictures this weekend!
Well......the countertops did not make it in by Thanksgiving but Charlie put plywood on top of the cabinets so I would have counter tops while I prepared our Thanksgiving meal. We had 19 people for dinner and it was wonderful! We use the huge foyer to seat everyone for dinner---I love that we can celebrate with family in a house with so much history! We expect the counter tops to be installed this week or next at the latest and in the meantime, there is PLENTY still to do. We kept the old farm style porcelain sink that was in the house when we bought it to use in our new kitchen. It needs to be restored so that's in progress now also.
Charlie has moved to the inside now that the temperatures are below freezing at night. Too cold to paint the new clapboard on the outside of the mudroom so Charlie will spend the next few weeks preparing the moulding in the kitchen for a coating of white paint. The white will really hightlight the beauty of this 80+ year old moulding! He will also attach insulation under the flooring along the length of the house to help keep the cold out. We will also look into some temporary insulation of the windows (such as heat shrinking plastic) to save a bit on the heating bill since we don't have the use of any of the fireplaces yet. The spring will be a very busy time for Charlie as the steps in the front porch need to be replaced, a handrail for those steps needs to be installed, water pipes need to be run to finish the last of the half bath installation in the mudroom, and so on.....
The mud room and kitchen now have new roofs and Charlie has installed the kitchen cabinets! We chose Virginia soapstone countertops and they should be installed in the next couple of weeks. The evolution of the kitchen has been particularly satisfying---probably because it had the most damage/rot/deterioration of all the rooms in the house. I asked Charlie recently to come up with a list of everythign he had repaired/replaced/updated in the house since he began work over a year ago and there were more than 30 line items on his list! We have been invited to speak at a November meeting of the King George Historical Society. I will share this list of Charlie's with them---it will be a lot of fun talking with that group about the history of hte house.
The tours in September went very well. We actually had a few people that visited the house several years ago and therefore, had an idea of just how much work has gone into the house. We are hoping Charlie will get another couple of nice days to finish some pipe work underneath the house--then our new half bath in the mudroom will be complete! We have truly come to love this home---there are finishing touches that need to be completed all over the house but the big jobs have been completed with the exception of the two porch roofs. That work will begin in the spring. Now that Charlie is concentrating on indoor work, he wil move onto insulating the ceiling in the kitchen and installing the same bead board on the ceiling that we took off the kitchen over a year ago. The addition of the insulation and bead board will make a big difference in the temperature in the kitchen.
We continue to invite any and all to come by, have a chat about the historical significance of the house, and take a look around the house....hope to see you soon!