1 House 100 Years

Preparing For The Centennial Of A Place That Matters

Month: August, 2013

The Best Home Town In The World…Boykins, Virginia


This past weekend I visited my hometown, Boykins, Virginia. In the last few years, there have been real efforts to restore the qualities that had made it so special many years ago. Boykins will never again be the way that I remember it, but it does have a promising future.

Being summer, I wanted a chicken salad sandwich for lunch, and that is what prompted my trip. Perhaps too I was somewhat nostalgic for simpler times when my grandmother’s chicken salad could make any problem disappear. (One of her secret was using watermelon rind pickle cut into relish sized pieces.)

I ate at a restaurant called “The Hungry Rooster.” It is in the building that I believe was once the Peeble’s Department Store where you could always find just about everything you would ever possibly want. I still have books that my grandparents bought for me from that great store.

The thing that my heart remembers the most was that I was always someone special wherever I went downtown or anywhere else in Boykins. I was always my grandfather’s grandson. Everyone knew him and everyone knew me, and I wanted to be like him more than anything in the world.

People still treat you like you are special in Boykins, even if someone doesn’t know you, they still treat you in a friendly and respectful way. That was certainly my experience at “The Hungry Rooster.” I honestly can not say enough nice things about the restaurant or the hardworking owners.

When they found out that the day before had been my birthday, they surprised me with a perfectly warmed brownie with ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, one huge cherry, and a lit birthday candle on top. It was a wonderful treat that I absolutely devoured with pure boyish delight.

It was a great ending to a perfect chicken salad sandwich and a mountain of French fries. By the way, when I took the paper off of my straw, I was amazed to see that it was a “bendie” straw, just one more little detail that made the restaurant truly special.

Afterwards, I went to “Storybook Antiques” a few doors down and bought the large and sturdy stoneware bowl that you see pictured here. The raised decoration around the bowl looks like an Art Deco design. It is filled with bay leaves from some limbs that I cut trimmed Sunday morning.

Quick tip: If you are working on an old house, it doesn’t have to be exactly accurate for the period in which it was built. That would be too much like living in a museum. Let your past guide your house projects for the future. Sometimes a single object can express a former time and way of life.

You can visit Boykins, Virginia http://boykinsvirginia.com/ on the Internet, but I’m sure that they would be glad for you to visit in person as well. Readers, I hope that you too feel like your home town is the best home town in the world too.


Listening To An Old House…


It is interesting how an old house can “talk” to you and let you know what it needs next. Of course, what my old house decides that it needs is not always what I decide that it needs. Nevertheless it’s often wisest to “listen” to the house with my ears and eyes.

Often it’s not necessarily the aesthetic comforts of home that a house needs. Decorative or architectural elements are really the final touches, particularly when what your house is saying what it really needs is more insulation, an extra electrical outlet, or a way to keep the raccoons from getting into the attic.

Quick tip: If you take the lathe and plaster off of a wall, make sure that there is no access into the room from the attic, or you will possibly come face to face with a pair of raccoons climbing down into your kitchen just as you are coming home from work in the evening!

My current challenge is a doorway that was added to my living room about forty years or so after the house was built. This was done to turn a closet into a “hallway” so that visitors didn’t have to walk through a bedroom to get to the bathroom. (My house has a Jack and Jill bathroom design.)

I would like to reclaim the closet for storage space, but I’m unable to restore the wall because the air return duct is there. Although moving the air return duct to the living room would solve that problem, doing so would visually ruin the living room ceiling that I had worked so hard to design and construct.

I believe that the solution will be some type of built-in bookcase which would block the doorway but still allow air to flow into the air return duct. You will notice that there is also a thermostat that may need to be moved but definitely needs to be upgraded.

I will be working with my quarter inch grid paper again to see what solutions I can design that will fit the character of my house. In the meantime suggestions are welcome!

This photograph was taken August 2013. Currently this closet that was turned into a “hallway” is just used to keep wood and building materials out of the way. Part of one wall was removed to create a channel for running new electrical wiring. I’d like to keep that accessible for future work if possible. The doorway to the back bedroom is to the right and the door next to it leads to the bathroom. I would like to somehow return this space into being a closet again, only one that is accessible to both the bedroom and bathroom for clothes as well as bath towels, etc.

Living Room Ceiling and Walls…Completed At Last!


This weekend, I finished the last of the paintwork on the living room’s ceiling. Having the walls covered with joint compound and painted as well has helped to give everything a much more finished look and should guide me towards the next steps. Overall I am very pleased with the project.

It has taken roughly two years to complete the ceilings in the dining room and living room. This includes the time needed to feel my way through the design and construction processes. It has been perhaps one of the greatest challenges. Nevertheless, I think that it has done the most to reflect the true character of my old house.

You see, my old house is a lot like me. It has, what some might consider, a few noble qualities that make it appear to be more than what it really is; however, in the end, it remains simply a working man’s house built next to the railroad tracks.

Spring and Summer 2011…Dining Room and Living Room

Installed plasterboard onto existing furring strips

Spring and Summer 2012…Dining Room and Living Room

Built and install box beams

Fall 2012…Dining Room (roughly 10′ x 12′)

Put finishing touches on box beams with filler, sanding, etc.
Apply joint compound to plasterboard
Paint beams, ceiling sections, and walls

Spring and Summer 2013…Living Room (roughly 17′ x 18′)

Put finishing touches on box beams with filler, sanding, etc.
Apply joint compound to plasterboard
Paint beams, ceiling sections, and walls


These photographs were taken August 2013. The first photograph is a detail of one corner. The second is a view of more of the ceiling to show how the overall design of the box beams works with the ceiling medallion and fan in the center of the room. The windows will later be painted to match the box beams.