INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - March 7, 2007
Hi! Henry the Stephenson House Mouse is back again and let me tell you, it has been really, really cold! I should not be complaining though because we now have heat in “my” house. Ol' Henry remembers one of the first years of the restoration when there was no heat at all in “my” house and the fireplaces did not work. I was one busy mouse running around finding warm fluff for my bed. For awhile I kept warm sleeping in the coveralls Keith had left here. When the inside walls of the house were down to the bare brick, there were a lot of places in “my” house where the cold could come in. Brrrrrrrrr!!!
There was one warm spot that a guy could count on for warmth and that was the heat/light bulb in the bathroom. Ol' Henry remembers when HPC members Joe, Kathryn and Karen met with Terri, the newspaper reporter, for an interview in that “warm” bathroom! Henry could hear their teeth chattering, but they all were laughing and having a good time. Terri said that was the first interview she had ever done in a bathroom!
There was another cold day that a lot of The Friends board members will recall. Remember the decorated Christmas trees silent auction for charities sponsored by the Specialty Shops that was held here? How cold was it? It was so cold Sid went home and added another layer of warm clothes. Ol' Henry was in his hidey place with all the fluff, watching and staying warm!
We've had cold days but we've had some fantastic days too, especially on the porch. Henry here loved napping on the porch in the sun and enjoyed it even more when later in the day folks would gather there. Keith, his wife, Karen, Jack and the neighbors Vi, Don and Millie, and Joe and Sid with other board members, would hang out for a while after the work day. They were there just enjoying the wonderful breeze and telling a few stories! Remember, when the neighbors took turns preparing meals for Keith and Jack? Hey, those folks' generosity probably kept the guys from starving! Those were some good times!
Ol' Henry remembers the dusty times too, when HPC came to clean out the “new” house. They came with brooms, shop vac and tools as they cleaned and tossed out junk. Some of them hung out the windows to get dust free air! Remember, college boys lived here for a while and even their mothers know they don't do housework!
Henry here was also around when Joe had Debbie and Karen film a video of the house. Joe wanted a before and after of “my” house, you know. They had a lot of fun filming and taking pictures. Ol' Henry watched while Karen held the ladder so Debbie could crawl into the attic to get a picture of the huge sheathing boards. Then Debbie heard someone talking in the attic! She made a mighty quick trip down the ladder! Ol' Henry knew it was my friend Squirrel, but how could I tell her about him?
Dust and dirt! Just ask Joe and Jim about when they worked with Lt. Becker and the SWAP team, tearing out radiators, cleaning age old soot from the fireplaces and dealing with plaster dust as the 180 year old plaster walls and ceilings crumbled! Norm did the scheduling and worked “my” house in with SWAP. Our guys wore masks and took sinus medicine! They all enjoyed every minute of it. Many, many thanks to Madison County, SWAP and Norm who did so much to get “my” house ready for architect Jack Luer and the restoration.
Yep, there are a lot of good stories from the beginning to the end of the restoration of Col. Ben's 1820 house. It was a once in a lifetime event to be working with or to watch. So many folks from the community were extremely generous with time and money and in big and small ways. The restoration has become a reality and Edwardsville has a jewel. Retired Senator Evelyn Bowles got it started with the grant money from the state to purchase and restore Col. Ben's house. Then, once again, the Edwardsville community came forward to help and the restoration was completed. What a great place Edwardsville is to call home!
Hey, don't you believe the house is looking great? Ol' Henry surely believes that it is. Unbelievable!! Carol, The Friends of the Benjamin Stephenson House Board and Director RoxAnn definitely have the house up and running in fine style. It has been a huge job and Henry's sure there are even bigger and better things ahead. The Friends are an incredible group of fine and dedicated people.
Ol' Henry has watched the progress and the fun at “my” house for a lot of years and loved it all, every minute of it. The goal has been reached and the school kids come to learn how the 1820's folks cooked, dressed, gardened, did laundry and even built mousetraps. They are the reward for Henry as I watch and listen to them play and ask questions during the school tours. I love having these happy kids around.
Ol' Henry has kept you all up to date for a long time. Just think about all the conversations this old mouse has overheard and had to remember so I could report back to you all! It is now time for Henry to sit back and enjoy “my” house, the folks on tours and the school kids. I will be hanging out here and in Lower Town with Cousin Jake. You continue to keep an eye out for me! Henry will be around here, keeping myself up to date and making sure I don't miss any parties and food. Not only that, I want to continue seeing Jacque Mette, the Tuesday Crew and all the volunteers.
You all keep up the good work!
See ya' later,