Wednesday, December 14, 2011

From the ground up...

 First dig a hole ... then it will rain.

 After the hole dries, pour concrete.

Then proceed to build floor supports.

Don't forget to enjoy the flowers that have strangely popped up in the middle of the construction site.

Add floors...

 Then walls...

 Before you know it you'll have something that almost resembles a house!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ode to the Mess Hall

Back when we first bought John's grandfather's house, there was a secondary building on the property. This structure was originally built as the mess hall for the divinity school (which also used to to be on the property). 

Unfortunately, we could not save the building as the backside was falling out. We did however discover many long, beautiful, cedar support beams running under the house. These we kept!
With a little inspiration from House Beautiful magazine, we decided to make the beams into a dining table for our covered back porch. Since the wood was taken from the divinity school's kitchen and dining hall, it only made sense that the wood be made into a table for eating. Our family loves spending time outside in warm months so a large outdoor table would be the perfect addition to our new home!
The table was finished just before our five year anniversary. We figured this was a very fitting anniversary gift for ourselves as this was our "wood" year! We cannot wait to eat around this table with our family and friends.
(picture shows table just before it was finished)
Big thanks to Bret MacFadyen at the Art and Invention Gallery in East Nashville for creating this beautiful table for us!!! 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Let the demolition begin!

After a fall, winter, spring, and summer of dreaming, scheming, and cleaning everything out of this house, we finally began demolition on August 15th. Here are some pictures from the first few weekends of demolition.

We'll start with a little shout out to our contractor, David Pine, in case you missed his modest sign.
One last look at the front with windows.

So long old front porch
back of the house (notice the bathtub of the roof)
Back view....back addition removed!
patchwork wallpaper behind upstair closet

Mummy Squirrel

view down front hallway (to what would have been the back addition)
view under the stairs into front living room

back of the kitchen looking into the hallway

view from dining room looking back towards the kitchen
Upstairs room above the living room (view from hallway). Clearly the walls are missing.

back bedroom above the kitchen

looking towards the front of the house from the back upstairs room above the kitchen

Looking towards the back of the house from the front bedroom above the dining room

Bead board ceilings! We're going to try to keep these upstairs.

upstairs room above living room looking towards hallway and other bedroom.
view from the top of the stairs looking towards the front door

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Back to School

Once we purchased the property we began researching its history.  John's grandparents moved there in 1970.  The previous owner purchased it in the 1920's.  That's about all we could find on our own.  

We asked Mr. Jack Howard (a local historian and dear friend) if he knew anything about the history of the property.  A few days later he brought us some research that he'd pulled together.  Apparently our home was built around 1887, and it was used as a dormitory for the divinity students of Cumberland University.  

Jack also provided information about 2 other buildings that used to be on our property.  

  • There was a large home on the property built by Judge Abraham Caruthers around 1845.  Judge Caruthers was the founder and first professor of the law school at Cumberland University.  In the late 1860's Cumberland purchased Judge Caruther's home and sixty acres to use for the law school for $16,000.  The law school never used the property.  Instead Cumberland's theological school used it, and it became known as Divinity Hall.  Castle Heights Military Academy purchased it in 1916.  When it was torn down in 1937 the bricks were salvaged and used to build the old gym at Cumberland and a home on West Spring Street.
  • There was also a small building on the property that was built as a kitchen & dining hall.  It would have been situated just behind Divinity Hall.  We do not know exactly when it was built.  This building was still standing when we purchased the property.  It had been used as a rental property for many years and was in very bad shape.  We had architects & structural engineers look at the building, but we could not save it.  We did manage to salvage several large hand hewn cedar beams, and we've had a large outdoor dining table & benches made from them.  It seemed fitting to have a dining table made from part of the old dining hall.

With the help of the internet and hours of determination we found these old photographs from back in the day. Here are a few fun facts to enjoy with these photos:

#1. The house/dormitory was built around 1887 without any indoor plumbing or electricity...Electricity was first provided in Lebanon in 1890. 

#2. The property was once the rough location of "the edge of town". Vagrants and criminals would have been kicked out just beyond our front yard.

#3. The average board at the Divinity Hall was $6 per month in 1894.

#4. In 1859 Cumberland, Harvard, & Virginia were the three largest law schools in the country

Dormitory in 1892

Divinity Hall 1890's
(purchased by Cumberland University in 1867)

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Before we start showing you torn up photographs of the house, we want you to enjoy a few "before" pictures. We hope these will give you an idea of where we started and why we fell in love with this house in the first place.

Front of the house (we love the mature trees in the front yard)

Beautiful damask wallpaper in the front hallway and upstairs! I'm in love and want to find a similar replacement soon!

Dining room wall paper. Not my style but so much fun.
front living room

We found extra rolls of this wallpaper in the house. Still trying to figure out where I'm using it!

Upstair room above the living room

transom widows above doors will be back for sure!

upstairs room above dining room

upstairs room above kitchen

upstairs hallway

Scary curved staircase!

old exterior wall
Love the old curtains in the back room.
You better believe these will make a reappearance as throw pillows.
LOVE! Old exterior wall in back addition.

back addition
back addition
back exterior