Charming Forge

When we first met Bill Coleman, I asked what made him want to restore the Coleman-Stiegel mansion, and he said “Charming Forge.” Another ironmaster’s mansion, it was later used only as a summer house, and so had never had heating or plumbing. After being vacant for many years, it was sold at public auction, so you can imagine the shape it was in. The new owners, Chip and Vonnie Henderson, completely restored it, and Bill said once he saw that, he knew he had to restore his place, too.

Well, in need of some inspiration ourselves, we contacted Chip and Vonnie, and they invited us over for a tour. Well, I have to say, I wasn’t inspired, I was depressed. I’m tired of seeing houses older than 1760 that are larger, grander, and fully restored. I offered to trade houses but they weren’t interested (and Dawn gave me “The Eye”).

Afterwards, we brought them down to see our place. This was the first time we’d been inside since July, when I mentioned the walls were damp. Now they were covered with mold. Dawn burst into tears at this newest insult to the house. Later, Vonnie said to me that she would have a lot more tears to go through before this project was over. Truer words have never been said.

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