Thursday, July 17, 2014

Working out the problems, one at the time!

   It has been awhile since I have posted on my blog. It just has not been in the cards. So much has happened, including," water under the table." Meaning really another Mississippi River  flood. I grew up close to the river and have seen a few floods before. Never as often as we are seeing them today. The River has a mind of it's own and man has tried over and over again to control it, but, I'm afraid it just can't be done.
 I made my self a promise last year after we had the third worse flood in history, it was 88 days from the moment we started sand bagging till the bags were taken away, that I would get out of my shop before the next flood. I guess I am just not smart. I have a house and a business on the banks of the Mississippi. Well I kept my promise. I closed my shop the end of June and the flood started the next day. Thank goodness I only had the house to contend with. The flood we had this year was a shocker. I really didn't believe we were going to have a flood. But, here it came. Thank goodness  for computers, you can go right to a site and see what's up with the river. It will tell you up to the inch how high it is going to be. I just think about in 1845, when my house was built, that those poor people had no ideal the river was coming up until it began to over flow it's bank. They had no ideal how much it would flood, when it would happen and how long it would last. At least we have that information today.
  In case you did not know it, I closed my shop, Downtown Antique Mall. I got tired of working 7 days a week and 5 years without a vacation. I have a friend that has a Antique Mall in Louisiana,Mo., about 9 miles from the old shop and I have taken several spaces in her mall. I am leaving all the responsibility to her, all the book keeping and so forth and so on that goes along with having a shop. I will work a few days in exchange for booth rent. I am hoping it is a win win situation for both of us. And the good thing is, it is not close to the river and never, ever will flood.
  My old 1845 house has gone through several floods in it's 168 years, three since I have owned it. I bought the house in 2006 and we had the third worse flood in history in 2008. It was a real learning experience.  Millions of sand bags were filled and we build a wall all the way around my house. It was a island. It was also a mess to clean up. Although the sand bags keep the river away from the house, water does seep under. This means several pumps were used to pump it back out. Someone had to man those pumps, fill them with gas and keep them running 24-7. That someone was me. It was a two month ordeal. I lived at the house with no utilities, had food brought in by boat and had to tight rope a sand bag wall to take Sissy to the bath room. But I did it and all was well. Cleanup took months.
   Every flood is different and different methods are used to fight it. The flood we had last year, we made a wall from gravel, right down the middle of the street, in front of my house. It went up much faster and was much easier to take away. Our little town of 450 people, paid for those two floods. It almost bankrupted the town. This year the city officials voted not to pay for flood prevention. It was up to each person to do there own. With the prediction being what it was, I knew where the water would be, so I just chose to let it flood. It was emotional, but it has worked out. I have some brown grass, dirty side walks and a very wet basement, but otherwise, all is well.
   I am hoping that some day, SOON, I can sell my home and get away from this flooding problem. When I was a kid, the floods came every 20 years. Then 15. Now it has been 2 years in a row. I am sure people messing with the river has caused this. When you build banks to hold the river back, it has to go somewhere. Damns have been build to control the debt for barge travel, I fear they can control the river, more than we ever will know. I love this old house, but enough is enough. I am sure it will be very hard to find a buyer, what with this flooding happening so regularly. Stranger things have happened.
  Anyhow, keep me in your prayers. Help me find what is right for me to do. And for now, all is well at, "My Old Historic House."

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sea Shells in the Library!

Some times I am overwhelmed by the kindness of people. Today was a very special day in my heart. A sweet lady, who I know only through my antique shop, Downtown Antique Mall,and as a tourist, several times through, My Old Historic House, came a calling with the nicest gift. I was over whelmed and beside myself. I have received several gifts for, My Old Historic House and every time I am just so thrilled.  

This sweet lady had toured my home  several times, she has also brought others to tour, including several groups. On one of my tours she asked about some brass window cornices in the kitchen. I said they were a gift from a tourist in Kentucky. She said, people give the house gifts. And I answered yes and never gave it another thought.

Those of you who follow my blog, know I am a collector  of Victorian Glass Specimen Domes. These glass domes were highly praised in Victorian times, 1830 -1900, and held many fun and unusual items. At my house I have domes with, clocks, dolls, dead birds, wax fruit, silk flowers and the list is endless. I did not have one with sea shells. I do love sea shells and have lots of them in French Wire planters on all my porches. This nice tourist lady, saw my domes, saw my love for sea shells and gave a dome full of shells she had, to me for my tour house.

This is beyond generous.OH MY!!hen she arrived with it, being the big baby I am, tears were in my eyes. It is tall, full of the most wonderful shells and just beautiful. I put it in the library on the center of the room table. The library has many other domes already and it seemed a good spot for it. I can close my eyes and see the Elgin children studying the shells and learning all there names.

If you love sea shells and domes like I do, you are sure to like this dome. Please come anytime for a tour. The lights are always on and Sissy Dog is always at the door with a kiss.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

St. Louis Antique Car Club Takes a Tour!

Yesterday, May 10 I was lucky enough to have a group of 24 people from the St. Louis Antique Car Club, come and take a tour of My Old Historic House.
The leader of the group had called me a few weeks back and booked the tour. She had been in Clarksville, my little home town, on an earlier visit and picked up one of my cards, She called and we made a date.

It was the most beautiful day for them. The sun was shinning and the sky was blue and the wind was calm. I was excited to see all the old cars around my house and just knew I felt a Blog coming on.
I had it all planned out, so I thought. They were to arrive at 3:00. I had a friend coming to baby sit the shop while I went and gave the tour. I had our Mayor lined up to give a welcome speech when they arrived. I had made mine and Sissy's bed before I went to the shop that morning. I also picked lilacs from the yard and had them in vases around the house. Made the old place smell so good.

At 2:30 I got a call, thanks to everyone having a cell phone, they were already at my house. My helper had not gotten to the shop and I was worried about the Mayor. I had no choice but to lock the shop and run home. Didn't want my tourist waiting in the sun. When I got there and welcomed them , explained about the Mayor and said instead of her starting the tour, she would end it. We went ahead with the tour and a few minutes into it, here she came. I explained to her what had happened and she waited patiently for her turn. WE citizens of Clarksville, population 420, are so lucky to have such a devoted mayor. She does more than her share to make things special when people come to out town. I am sure she does not get the praise she deserves, so here it is, YAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!MAYOR SMILEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is Clarksville,Missouri's., Population 422, Mayor, Joann Smiley 

The tour went off well and the car people could not have been nicer. They seemed to really have enjoyed there visit. They asked many questions and seemed to really be interested in the old place. I got the usual UHHHHHS and AUHHHHHHHS and at least one who asked," who cleans this place."
I hope you enjoyed the car club tour as much as they did. Make your reservations soon. Sissy Dog and I will always, turn the lights on, make the bed and take out the trash. Heck, I might even make some sweet tea and set a spell on the screen porch. Happy Mothers Day every one in Blog Land!

This gentleman loved the floors

My grandson would sure like this little chair

May we take pictures, sure!

We are here!!! Where are you!!!!! Coming!!!!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


  Over the weekend I was a lucky duck, as the expression goes. I got a call from some one wanting to sell some old things. Part of them were in there home out in the country. I was two fold lucky, as I have always wanted to see there county house and until now, had not had the  chance to do so. The caller said they had a dining room table full of stuff to sell. I arrived on the call and was escorted to the dining room. Sure enough the table was full. I made ,"chit chat", and soon found out that an offer for the lot was what the owner was wanting. She left me alone to ponder and when I felt comfortable with an offer, I called her back in. We worked it out and now I had the task of moving all this stuff. Luck was with me again, as most of these items had come out of boxes that had been in storage. She offered the boxes and I sighed , because I had not came prepared. I wrapped and wrapped and carried all the boxes through the front hall and out the door. With the last box, I bid my goodbye and thanks to the owner.While I had only gotten to see the hall and dining room, I was thrilled to have gotten to do so.  It was everything a country home should be.

   The next day I meet with the same people again at a storage building, It was full, but they had made it simple, this pile was for sale and so was that one. Having made an offer for the whole table top full yesterday, I did the same thing again. So much for this pile and so much for that one. Again I had to pack and carry out. I did come prepared and brought some boxes this time.
  After all that, I went to the shop and unwrapped all my new found treasures. I know had the task of dividing up the items and the cost ,as to see how to price the items. It seems I made a pretty good bye. In the process of going through all the items I came across a small bundle wrapped in bubble wrap. When I opened it, I was meet with great surprise. Al these little treasures were snug inside. I had not seen them in the original search and I was really surprised.

  Those of you who have followed my blog for a while, know I restored a doll house a few years back. I have been, ever since then, looking for treasures  to fill the inside. And these were indeed treasures. I have been busy with all the other items, mowing and doing yard work, but I did set down today to share these with you. If you are a doll house lover, you know how dear and costly these little treasures can be. So to me, what a surprise, as they were a bonus, kinda like, free.They are all older, mostly French and hand painted. Yipee. I hope to get them into the doll house in a few days and will do a continue up blog on how they look.
   Every body come see me any time, someday soon. I will always leave the lights on and Sissy dog is very generous with her kisses. Until then, I hope you have a wonderful discovery of your very own soon. The sun  is shining on My Old Historic House today and I sure am enjoying it.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Double Parlor of the Missouri Governors Mansion, Jefferson City,Mo.
  Some one recently said that my house reminded them of a French Whore House. Well, I for one have never been in a French Whore House or any Whore House, as far as that goes. I am sure, the Lady, well, woman, well idiot,who called my house a French Whore House, has never been in one either. As close as I have ever gotten to one was in the movies. The Chicken Ranch with Dolly Parton,Best Little Whore House in Texas. Belle's in Gone with the Wind. Remember when Dr. Meade's wife got so excited asking the doctor what it looked like. They had made up the story that they had gone to Belle's Whore House when Scarlet's husband was killed. I can hear her now," does it really have crystal chandeliers and red velvet curtains with a foot long fringe?" Of course they showed it in the movie and I have to admit, I liked it. Especially the big crystal peacock on the table. Well, in that case, maybe my house does look like a French Whore House. "What ever? " As the younger generation says."What ever?"

Robt. Campbell House Museum, St. Louis Missouri

Campbell house Museum, St. Louis,Mo. One of the most intact homes in America of the Ante Bellum period.

Campbell House.

 If in fact, my house does look like a French Whore House, there must have been a lot of other houses in the 19th century that looked like them also. I fashioned my house after the great homes of the middle to late 1800's in America. I have no pictures of what my house might have looked like. so I did what one would have called  an interpretive restoration. I did what I interpreted that the house might have looked like. I did this by studying other restorations of that period.

  There were several houses that I studied both from books and in person. I chose these houses for several reasons. One, they were of the same age, time period as my house. Two, they had some or all there original furniture and accessories intact. Some of the fabrics and wall paper had been exact reproductions from the originals. Three, They were award winning restorations of that period.

The Confederate White House, Richmond, Va.

Confederate White House. Restored with all original furniture and reproduction fabrics, carpets and wall covers of the originals

Confederate White House

   My house was started in 1845. It had a small addition in 1860. I chose that 1860 period for my house.  This is when the builder, Mr. Elgin. lived in the house as a family man and had the most money. Mr. Elgin was a river boat captain, so he had access to Ports of Call, like St.Louis and New Orleans. he had married a lady who had lots of money, land and slaves. So there was no reason he could not  have had the things  the Elgin/ Cottrell House has today and  look like it does today and have so many fine things inside.
     The homes of the Ante Bellum period, before the Civil War, that I studied and used as a pattern and inspiration for my house are:
    A.) The Missouri Governors Mansion. Restored and furnished to the 1871 period at a cost of over 11 million dollars. The mansion is one of the best examples of that time. The furniture is mostly not original to the house, but is original to that period. The wall paper and fabrics are also reproductions of the period. This is an award winning restoration. The Missouri Governors Mansion was built as a Governors home and is one of the few in the United States that has been used ever since as a Governors Home. The restoration has been called one of the finest of the period. No cost was  spared and the finest examples of furniture was found to fill it's rooms. Experts did research for reproduction wall paper and carpets of the period. It has been called one of the finest Governor mansions in the United States.

Rosalie, Natchez ,Mississippi. National Shrine of DAR


  B.) The Confederate White House in Richmond, Va. It became the White house in 1865. The mansion was built by some one else as a private home. When The Confederate States left the Union and elected there own president they needed a home for him and his family. This house had just been decorated to the latest styles and fashions of the 1865 period by it's original owner. The  house and the furniture was sold to the Confederates for one lump sum. The Jefferson Davis family moved in right way. I am sure that Mrs. Davis brought some of her own things and added original touches. When the war was over, the house was made into a museum and nothing was changed. Since then some of the fabrics and wall coverings have been reproduced from the original. But no better example of this period of history could be found anywhere.

Melrose Plantation, Natchez, Mississippi. Most intact Ante Bellum Home of the South

 C.) The Campbell House Museum in St. Louis. The Campbell house was built by another owner also in 1851. The Campbells bought it and moved in around 1854. They lived there for many years. After the parents died it became the home of two of there sons, who never married. After the death of the last son, the house was left to a University. It contained all the original everything inside. Including a lot of photos taken in 1940's. The house was left setting empty by the University for many years.Finally it was put up for sale and all the things inside were for sale as well. A group of St. Louis people got together and bought the house and all the furniture and things inside. It was soon after opened as a museum. It has also won all the awards and was restored at a cost of over 3 million dollars. Wall paper was reproduced as well as fabrics, curtains and  carpets. Photos were used to figure out furniture placements. The Cambells were very wealthy people. President and Mrs. Lincoln visited the home as well as other famous people. If ever you want to study a house of this period, this would be a good one. It is one of only a few restored homes with all the original things inside.
  D,) Melrose Plantation in Natchez, Mississippi. I visited Melrose when I was in college. At that time it was owned by descendants of the original builders. It was built in 1865 and today it is called one of the most intact Ante Bellum estates in the South. Since I last visited the home it has been sold to the State of Mississippi and they have since spent 10 million on it's restoration.All The furniture is original and the fabrics and wall coverings have been reproduced from the original. The house is complete down to the china and silverware, the clothing, papers and inventories of the accessories and slaves.

Rattle and Snap Plantation, won in a card game, Mt. Pleasant, Tn. 1860

Rattle and Snap.

  E.) Rosalie, The DAR National Shrine in Natchez, Mississippi. Rosalie was first built around 1823, but was added to and redone in 1953. The DAR ladies have restored the house to that 1853 period. Most of the furniture and accessories are original. Fabrics and wall coverings have been reproduced from originals. Rosalie is one of the grandest homes on the banks of the river ,high on the bluffs in Mississippi. It's colorful interiors have been copied for years and is a fine home to use as a model of that period. Restored at a cost of around 5 million dollars.
  F.Rattle and Snap Plantation. Mt Pleasant, TN. built in 1860. Rattle and Snap gets it's name from a game of cards. The story goes that the original owner was in a heated card game and bet the plantation. Well he lost and the new owner called it Rattle and Snap. In  books about  fine American homes and architecture , Rattle and Snap is always featured. It is of grand style and is fully restored today to it's original glory. The new owner recently spent a little over 3 million doing the restoration. The finest fabrics, trim and wall coverings of the period as well as furniture was purchased for the restoration. Rattle and Snap is a glory to behold.

My House, the 1845 Historic Elgin/Cottrell House, as appeared in  the national magazine, Victorian Homes. June 20012

My house from  Victorian Homes Magazine

  When I set out to restore the Elgin/Cottrell House in 2006, I went and studied all these houses in great detail. Most of them have books for sale so I bought them. I talked to some of the owners and some of the curators. I asked a lot of questions and got a lot of answers. Some of there reproduction wall covers were used in my restoration. I have to say, I had no millions to spend. I had no state government behind me or oil companies. I had to pay for the whole thing all by myself. I spent about 150 thousand and did most of the work myself. I learned to tuck point, plaster, wall paper, paint and marbleize. I did have a dear sister that sews beautifully and she helped with the curtains. I was lucky to have most of the beautiful furniture ,accessories ,rugs ,lamps, paintings and chandeliers. If I had to buy those, the cost  would have doubled.
  My home was featured three times in the national magazine, Victorian Homes. The editor at the time said my home was one of the best examples of it's period, done by an individual on a minor budget. Maybe it does look like a French Whore House. I don't know that answer. But I do know it looks good compared to the best of that period.
 Please come by some time for a real tour. I will always leave the lights on and Sissy Dog will meet you with a jump and a kiss. And I can promise you, there are no whores, French or American , here, but if there were, what a grand place to be.
My House taken by me today. French Whore House? Great American Ante Bellum  Restoration?