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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

spring flowers

The Vaneff House where I live, across from Oak Hill Cottage, was home since the 1920s to one of many Macedonian families in this neighborhood . I'm going to try to post the flowers as they pop up in the gardens. The yellow flower, Eranthis hyemalis (Winter Aconite), showed up first this year the first week of March in several small clumps. They are native to southern Europe. The blossoms are closed in the picture because of the cold. The little blue flowers are blooming now all over two beds and at the base of the wild cherry tree. They are Chionodoxa lucilia (Glory-of-the-snow), a native of Turkey.

Monday, March 30, 2009

total eclipse post hydrant

When Oak Hill Cottage got indoor plumbing in 1877, the contract called for 5 yard hydrants. The one showing up most often in old photos was alongside the front walk, but none of the originals survive. Kupferle Foundry in St. Louis has been making the Total Eclipse brand of yard hydrants since 1857, and we have purchased and installed this nice piece of Victorian cast iron in its original location.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Cast iron urns were a feature of Oak Hill Cottage's Victorian landscape since the 1870s, but haven't been displayed for many years for fear of losing the valuable antiques. Recently the Society Board purchased new reproduction urns of similar size and style, and they are now flanking the front porch and sporting pansies until the weather warms enough for a more elaborate display.

Monday, March 2, 2009

dining room

The rear wing of Oak Hill Cottage contains the dining room and kitchen with the servant's rooms in a half story above the dining room. The low dining room ceiling of about 8 feet and the way some of the window trim is cut short because of the lower ceiling, prompted the interpretation that there was originally a high cathedral ceiling that had been lowered by the Jones family (second occupants of the house) to accommodate their need for servant's quarters.
I have never believed this! My instinct that the dining room is unaltered goes back to my grandparent's house in Kentucky which was built about the same time, and had exactly the same arrangement. From the main part of the second floor of that house, there were two or three steps down into the second floor of the rear wing above the kitchen, just like Oak Hill's short doorway in the nursery leading into the servant's area.
Secondly, I felt the evidence just wasn't strong enough to make it part of the tour dialog and spoil the ideal of an unaltered floor plan.

Today in the servant's hallway above the dining room I took up a short floorboard to have a look at the joist end that normally rests in a pocket in the brick wall. If the dining room ceiling had been lowered, you would expect to find something unusual here. Perhaps a pocket made by removing bricks, or the joist resting on a header. But instead I found a very normal looking pocket that had been created as the original wall was laid. The photo below is looking down into the space with the joist on the left.

I think this is invalidates the notion that the ceiling was lowered.