INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - March 23, 2005
Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. When
I came back from my visit with cousin Jake I was planning to tell you
a story about Theophillus Smith and Hooper Warren. Well, that story has
to wait 'til next time because the winter's work of preparation by The
Paint Crew is overwhelming and we need to talk 'house'! All of a sudden
'my' house has just come alive like a beautiful butterfly! We can talk
about the floors, Delft tile, paint, gardens, wallpapering, or door hardware.
How about just starting with Henry's new hidey place?
Henry has an exciting new hidey place! I am not going to tell you where
it is but I will tell you that I am positive my newly found hidey place
was made by Great- great- grandpappy Ezra. He was the one who had great
tales to tell about Col. Ben and Lucy and the goings on around here in
1820. Well, he made his hidey place in a great location where a mouse
just fits and can see and hear what goes on in Col. Ben's house. No wonder
he had great tales to tell! Thanks, Great- great- grandpappy Ezra.
What has Henry learned from my new hidey place? Well, among many things,
the front door has a beautiful handmade brass lock and doorknob. I learned
that the door and closet hardware that Keith and Jack are installing are
1820 and 1845 handmade reproductions. A handmade lock and doorknob is
as close to the original in design and locking mechanism as possible.
I learned that people were smaller in 1820 and you will understand that
when you see how small the doorknobs are! The guys are installing hardware
in the rest of 'my' house too.
Now let's talk about Delft tile made in Holland. When you folks come to
'my' house, please be sure to look closely at the Delft tile on the fireplace
in the front parlor. It was very fashionable to use decorative Holland
tile when the Stephenson's built their home. Many folks had goods of all
types shipped to the U.S. from Europe because this country had not begun
production of many decorative or functional household items. Past owners
of the Stephenson house remember that Holland tile was on the fireplace
in the front parlor. Thanks to the generosity of a member of The Friends
of the Col. Benjamin Stephenson House, Delft tile is once again on the
fireplace in the front parlor. The tile is called 'Jumping Jest' and was
painted in 1780 by a Dutch artist from Amsterdam. A jumping animal is
painted on each tile including antelopes, rabbits, horses, jaguar, reindeer
and fox. Each animal has a wonderful naïve expression and a slightly
different body look that make one think the Amsterdam artist used his
imagination as he painted! Henry heard that these antique Delft tile were
part of a wall of tile in Amsterdam in the 1780's. They are so warm and
wonderful, you must take time to enjoy them!
Henry has always known that the 1845 floors needed big time cleaning and
restoration and would be a difficult job for The Paint Crew. They had
to use a big machine called a floor sander. Ever hear of a floor sander?
That big thing about scared Ol' Henry to death! But, what a job the machine
does. The Paint Crew started out using the big machine. Then they included
Keith and Jack, and finally all the 1845 floors were sanded. They are
now smooth and beautiful old wood. Do you remember when Tom was chipping
away at the residue from the linoleum in one of the rooms? Well, Tom's
floor is now a smooth, warm, mellow floor with a wonderful old patina,
thanks to his continuing work and the floor sander!
This old mouse likes the feeling of the children's bedroom. The room is
so calm and peaceful and just perfect for children of the 1820s. I checked
it out yesterday and saw where Joe and Sid decided to leave a portion
of the original ceiling on view. A section of the original lath, plaster
and beams is visible in a framed area in a corner of the ceiling. Really
Ol' Henry just has to talk about The Paint Crew. All of them are retired
Edwardsville guys who spend one morning a week at 'my' house working on
the walls and the floors. Henry here has joked about how much they laugh
and have fun but I didn't tell you how they work with great patience as
they sandpaper the walls they have previously painted. As they sand, they
check for spots that Keith the painter plasters to make the walls smooth.
They mark these spots with little stickum's. At the end of the morning
'my' house is full of yellow stickum's on the walls and men covered with
plaster dust from head to toe. It does make a mouse smile!
Then Keith the painter comes in and plasters where the stickum's are and
makes the walls smooth. He has been a good teacher for The Paint Crew
who has learned a lot and has done an outstanding job. They are a special
group of men!
Talk about paint! It seems like in an overnight The Paint Crew had the
front parlor painted. And, the next thing the old mouse knew the millwork
in the children's bedroom was getting its final coat of a yellow-gold
paint. Keith will wallpaper in there in a few days.
The master bedroom has one coat of a yellow paint on the millwork and
closet doors. John, who Keith the painters son, explained this is the
first of three glazes. The second color will be white and the third and
final glaze will be a salmon color. The result will be a weathered or
washed pinkish color. Henry told you before that Keith would be using
his grandfather's tools called combs for the glazing. The master bedroom
is one of the rooms where these combs will be used.
The bedroom closet doors are the actual closet doors that Col. Ben and
Lucy used everyday! That thought just brings all kinds of pictures to
Ol' Henry's mind. I can just see Great- great- grandpappy Ezra hiding
and staying real still in the back of the closet as Lucy hangs up her
Carol F. has been one busy lady as she helps Joe in selecting and finding
good prices on documented wallpaper. She also works with Jim Zupanci planning
the gardens and plantings. My new hidey place is so good that from here
I heard that Carol has ordered old time Heirloom tomato seedlings and
seeds. Let the planting begin!
The good news is that The Friends have received a $5000 grant from The
Edwardsville Community Foundation. This money will pay for the installation
of an upstairs bathroom and a downstairs handicapped facility. No privies
at ''my' house!
Hey, Henry here could go on and on about 'my' house 'cause this old mouse
gets real nostalgic when he thinks of all the hands that have touched
the closet doors. And the many people, plain settlers or famous men, who
turned the small doorknobs as they came and went to Col. Ben's house.
Hey, you too can touch the original doors and take a step back into Edwardsville's
past. What a trip!
Be back later with my story about Theophillus Smith and Hooper Warren.
See ya' 'later,