Friday, July 26, 2013

I get to work on my grandmother's childhood home!

My great-grandmother, Nanny, died when I was six. I remember bits and pieces of her -- she had red hair and lived in a beautiful house that felt like a fairy tale. I was named after her, so I have a feeling we spent lots of time together. From age 6 to present, I have always loved her for the simple fact that she was the mother of my precious grandmother, Mimi. My Mimi and I are very close. I am the oldest of twelve grandchildren and I simply adore her. She was the one that took me out for ice cream after school and took care of me when I was sick and my mom worked. She taught me how to scour the beach for shells and she was (and still is) beautiful. Last week, she turned the ripe old age of 85 and I am thankful for every minute I get to spend with her.
I found this picture recently and love everything about it. Her timeless beauty, her style and the fact that in this picture, at that very moment, she had no idea of the profound impact she would have on all of our lives. 
Today, I spent my morning with a new client in an old space... riddled with memories, elegance and style. I was called in to renovate a (very) old bathroom in my Nanny's and my Mimi's former house. 
When my grandmother was fourteen, my Nanny and my great grandfather, Heide, bought this home in which to raise their three girls and one boy. They bought it from an English sea captain and his wife. They did not have any children and lived there alone in our port city with their maid, Ceiley. When they bought the tudor, it came with their British maid. I find this fascinating for so many reasons, but mostly because my grandmother speaks so fondly of Ceiley who worked for my great- grandparents until she died.
 My grandmother, the oldest of the four, lived in this house from the age of 14 until she was 17 and went away to Ashley Hall for school. She got ready for her wedding in this house and told me that she remembers leaving in a "smart" going away suit from the very door you see here. 
As a little girl, I remember this staircase. I love the original hardwoods and am thankful that over the years, various owners didn't paint the wood trim. 
One of the original chandeliers still adorns the dining room. Look closely and you will see domes that light up from underneath. I have never seen anything quite like it. The homeowners said that when they moved in, many of the crystals were missing. As they continued to update the heating and air systems, they uncovered many of the original pieces and were able to restore it to its glory. 
When the current home owners, wanted to expand storage in the kitchen, they found an area behind the pantry that led them to a basement area perfect for expansion. There, they found (literal) blue prints for a "renovation" to the current structure. An architect from Richmond, created these plans for my great-grandmother and great-grandfather. I loved pouring over these, trying to figure out how my ancestors wanted to improve their home for their family of six. 
Check out the allowances for changes... $75 for finish hardware and $120 for electric fixtures. Note, these changes were dated May 1946. 
I particularly love the part about the owner's responsibility to install "wall decoration". 
I wonder at what point this magnificent fireplace was added. It could have been part of the original design and selected by the captain and his wife or part of my family's alterations. It is stunning. I wonder if my grandfather asked my great-grandfather for my Mimi's hand in marriage in this very room? Oh, the history. So thankful it's mine.

While I was so honored to be asked to help renovate a bathroom and do further work on this tudor beauty, I couldn't help but feel nostalgic about the fact that I am about to rip out a the very vanity at which my Mimi applied her make-up.  
Perhaps, she primped for dates with my grandfather in this house and in a bathroom that I am about to change drastically to fit the needs of the current homeowner. It's time. Time marches on and the functionality of this bathroom is in question. I am honored to work on this home. It's a home that was once filled with the love of family and decades later, it still is. 

bye bye birdie...



Lindsey Suggs said...

Hooper, that is the sweetest and neatest story!!!! How fun that you get to go back to your roots and help shape that house and family's future. Love it!! Thanks for sharing. :)

Anonymous said...

Great story Hooper! Emilie is attending Ashley Hall this year. :)

Chris Dorrestein

Anonymous said...

What a lovely story and what a lovely house. That chandelier and fireplace are stunning!

I am loving your blog ladies!

M in Vegas

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