FRIDAY, APRIL 21, 2006

Chief cook and bottle washer

Dawn went on a ‘spending spree’ this week, buying a table at auction for $110, a porch light on sale for $50, and a dishwasher for $2,800.

In her defense, I was the one that wanted a commercial dishwasher. And I’m not talking about a fancy “pro line” model from a high-end home store; this is a workhorse from a restaurant supply place. The kind with the gray racks that busboys carry. It cleans a load in 2 minutes, instead of an hour and forty-five minutes for the “pro lines.” The way I see it, if I use it every day for the next ten years, it only costs 70 cents/day more, and I will save 37 weeks of my life. (Of course, that assumes I would spend an hour and forty-five minutes each day standing idly by the dishwasher.)

I spent some money, too: $1,500 to painters to spruce up the LA house, and $1,500 to gardeners to overhaul the yard. Dawn always took care of the outside, but since she’s been gone for a year, it was looking pretty sad. Now it’s prettier than ever, and with the new paint and clean house, I’m wondering why I’m moving.

Then Dawn calls to tell me how much the granite countertop costs, and I remember why I’m moving: We need to sell this house.

Dawn found her own gardener, since she’s tired of the ‘mudpit’ look. She was trying to find someone who did hydroseeding — shooting seed, fertilizer, and glue out of a water hose — but the folks that do that were all booked until June, and we really want some grass for our grand opening. She finally found someone who can just reseed the yard in two weeks. This puts us in a bind, though: we have to hope for rain because of the grass, and hope it doesn’t rain because of the exterior painter. I guess we can hope it only rains at night.

radiant heat

Mike skewered the radiant heat in the bathroom, so he has to destroy the new ceiling to fix the pipes.

On a completely different note, when I was in Pennsylvania two weeks ago, we found some old Cream of Wheat posters at an antique mall. Normally I would not get excited about Cream of Wheat, but it happened that many years ago, our neighbor in LA had taken a similar Cream of Wheat poster and put it in a beautiful custom wood frame. When we moved in, he “loaned” this to us, with the understanding that we had to return it if we ever sold the house. So on top of everything else, we were going to lose this wonderful piece of artwork.

Instead, we bought two Cream of Wheat posters, and my neighbor is framing them right now! (He even told us we could keep the original.) Even cooler, they’re all “bed and breakfast” related — one says “Breakfast’s ready, little missy”, another says “Cream of Wheat Inne,” and the third says “The order of the day,” with a little girl sitting in bed talking on an old-styled phone. I already know where these are going to go, on the stairwell in the kitchen.

Look at me: we just spent our life’s savings on the house, and I’m excited about some $10 posters. It must be the paint fumes…


Dawn’s third (and final) to do list

Within the next ten weeks, we should have the mansion ready and (hopefully) the Summer Kitchen as well. Unfortunately, the Paymaster’s Office will take a little longer. Notice I didn’t say “finished,” just “ready.” The stuff that is absolutely required in order for us to get our occupancy permit and open the B&B is highlighted in bold.


  • Paint interior
  • Build kitchen island and refrigerator cabinet
  • Sand and refinish all floors
  • Strip stairs
  • Finish plumbing (install sinks and toilets)
  • Finish electrical (switches, outlets, humidistats, exit signs)
  • Finish fire and burglar alarms
  • Install thermostats
  • Buy and install light fixtures for kitchen, upstairs
  • Tile Kathyrn’s bath, our bath
  • Install marble surrounds on fireplaces
  • Buy applicances (refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, washer, dryer)
  • Buy and install range hood, flue liner, chimney cap
  • Run propane line to kitchen
  • Install safety railing in servant’s stairwell
  • Strip and restore all doors
  • Remove and sandblast door and window hardware
  • Make interior storm windows
  • Buy and install interior blinds or drapes
  • Paint exterior
  • Paint front porch (ceiling is sky blue)
  • Hang exterior shutters
  • Install phones, cable TV, wireless Internet
  • Build mechanical room in basement
  • Build new basement stairs
  • Install laundry tub in basement
  • Replace basement door
  • Finish wine rack in basement
  • Cover spring in basement
  • Install storage cabinets in basement
  • Finish down spouts
  • Landscape in front of mansion
  • Get furniture from Mechanicsburg
  • Buy mattresses, linens, etc.
  • Glass tops for furniture

Summer Kitchen

  • Repair and install front door
  • Buy and install new flooring downstairs
  • Refinish flooring upstairs
  • Install ceiling fans
  • Finish plumbing (install sinks and toilets)
  • Finish electrical (switches, outlets)
  • Install air handler and heat pump
  • Build kitchenette
  • Strip and repair all windows
  • Finish repointing
  • Build and install storm windows
  • Install plaster
  • Paint
  • Tile whirlpool bath surround
  • Install propane fireplace

Paymaster’s Office

  • Rough plumbing
  • Rough electrical
  • Install air handler and heat pump
  • Build kitchenette
  • Drywall bathroom
  • Finish plumbing (install shower, sinks, toilet)
  • Finish electrical (switches, outlets)
  • Install light fixtures
  • Install chimney liner
  • Set up gas fireplace
  • Build kitchenette
  • Strip and repair all windows
  • Build and install storm windows
  • Patch woodwork
  • Build whirlpool surround
  • Tile whirlpool surround
  • Install tankless hot water heater
  • Install basement door
  • Refinish floor
  • Paint kitchen and bathroom
  • Pour cement floor in basement


  • Replace roof
  • Clean out
  • Buy emergency generator
  • Set up manual transfer switch
  • Finish repointing

White House

  • Replace bathroom fixtures
  • Build third bedroom
  • Paint inside and out
  • Rent

Los Angeles

  • Pack everything
  • Sell house
  • Hire movers
  • Drive to Pennsylvania


  • Reseed lawn
  • Finish drain in front of workshop
  • Pour cement floor in workshop
  • Install condensors/heat pump in workshop
  • Install louvres in windows with automatic opener
  • Install outside paths/lighting (solar?)
  • Repair floor joists in workshop (Dawn)
  • Install new stairs to workshop, or railing
  • Resurface driveway
  • Create pull-off; install retaining wall
  • Paint arrows/post signs at end of drive
  • Remove telephone pole and electric panels
  • Clear ivy from trees
  • Install barn doors
  • Move trough
  • Hang sign
  • Determine “open house” weekend
  • Throw a party!


  • Landscape
  • Rebuild back porch
  • Stabilize stallion pen
  • Rebuild chicken coop
  • Clean barn
  • Replace stairs on greenhouse
  • Restore lawn furniture

The view from the property. Pretty cool, huh?


Telephone wire

Received this email from Dawn:

While digging a trench across the driveway, Bob hit the phone line. ūüôĀ The phone company was called and today they came out to patch it; tomorrow they will come and fix it.
The story goes something like this:
– Hey Bob, I think you’re close if not over the phone line.
– No, it’s at least another foot over.
– No, I think it’s there.
– No, no, it’s over a bit.
– Ok, as long as you know.
– Anyway, I will just take one more swipe with the backhoe then start hand digging.
– Alright

I am walking away to get in my car and go pick up paint and I hear, “BRIAN, WHAT’S THAT??” I think to myself, don’t look, just keep walking, but Bob calls me and tells me he hit the wire. I say, no you did not. He says he hit the wire. I say, NO YOU DID NOT. Yes, he says, then proceeds to tell me why it happened. I cut him off and call the phone company. I am fit to be tied; I have no idea what the cost will be.

Bob hits a phone line

Bob, Bob, Bob…


Latest colors

We’re using Sherwin-Williams paint simply because they gave us a good discount, but the guys at the Lebanon store have been extremely helpful. For the rooms that aren’t yet painted, I used the “color visualizer” tool on the Sherwin-Williams website; hopefully you can tell which rooms aren’t ours!!


MONDAY, APRIL 10, 2006

This week

kathryn's room chandelier

kathryn’s room chandelier

Except for Thursday, this has been a very productive week:

  • We filed our taxes, and I was actually disappointed at how much we owed, since we’re going to be filing for a refund of all of it with the historic tax credits.
  • We visited the furniture, and I’m always amazed at how beautiful each piece is. My cousin spent two hours there, arranged all of the furniture by room, and picked out fabrics for four items, which was more than Dawn and I had accomplished in a year and a half!
  • We met with a landscape architect, sort of. Let’s just say she was on the property, and we weren’t*. In any case, it became obvious that we couldn’t do anything besides plant grass this year, and hope to work on the landscape next year.
  • We met with the contractor and started drawing up plans for the kitchen island and refrigerator cupboard. However, he needs us to choose a dishwasher and a refrigerator first. We also decided to go with a granite countertop instead of the engineered stone–even though it needs to be sealed regularly, Dawn prefers the look.
  • I also walked the house with contractor, and the opening date now looks like end of June. That was actually a relief, because there’s so much to be done besides the restoration, I wasn’t sure how I’d get it done by May. Channel 11 news also called to see if we were open yet, and I had to tell them it was going to be a while longer, but they’re definitely interested in a follow-up.
  • We bought a chandelier for Kathryn’s room at an antique shop in Adamstown (“antique capital of the USA”). This had been a problem because we’re putting a canopy bed in that room, and even though it has high ceilings, there still wasn’t room for a chandelier. But we found a flush-mount, five-layer, wedding cake crystal chandelier that looks very similar to¬†the other two chandeliers, so it’s perfect.
  • We also found an old print of Elizabeth township from 1876, which we’ll have mounted and framed. It clearly shows “Speedwell Forge” which is cool beyond words. I hope someday we can find an even older map.
  • In a bit of whimsy, Dawn bought a cast iron horse stand (for tying horses to). I’m not sure how many guests will arrive by horseback, but it’s kind of fun. We found it at Don and Ann’s Antique Roe, which is the scariest place in the universe. (They don’t have a web site, but I found some pictures¬†here¬†and¬†here.)
  • I met with the PA Dutch Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. I’m trying to get my mother-in-law to advertise the¬†wolf sanctuary¬†so she gets more visitors, which brings in more revenue, which makes it self-sufficient, which means I won’t end up supporting it, but so far she is very resistant. (And I know she’s reading this. ūüėČ
  • I gave a tour of the building, my first in three months. We even had some repeat visitors, who were impressed at how much had been accomplished. (Actually, the only major accomplishments were finishing the windows and putting up the plaster, which only took a couple of weeks.)
  • We picked up some wine from¬†Chaddsford winery. (Well, actually, we picked it up from the Springfield Mall, because we didn’t have time to drive to the winery.) I have asked my friends in California to try it, but they are such wine snobs, I’m sure they’ll turn their nose up at this just like they have the other Pennsylvanian wines.
  • I contacted the local YMCA about the labor day triathlon they sponsor, which passes right by our property. Unfortunately, they put it back on me to figure out what I wanted to do about a sponsorship, and I have no idea. Someone suggested putting our logo on hand towels or sports bottles, but that just seems too commercial.

*I had to pick up my cousin at the Philadelphia airport at 8:15am. I left late, then I got lost when trying to transition from the 76 to the 476, and I ended up on the 202. A quick glance at a map shows the 202 goes in the wrong direction, then goes into Delaware, and is a good hour out of the way. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a map, so I called Dawn, who can’t read a map to save her life. She told me I was “three inches” from the 95, so I just stayed on the 202.

Then my car died. Or more specifically, my mother-in-law’s car died. Worse, my mother-in-law was in the car at the time. We happened to be in front of a diner, so first I called Dawn, then I called a tow truck, then I had breakfast. That’s when the landscape architect called, wondering where I was.

Dawn was not happy about having to drive to the airport, so imagine her reaction when she got to the 76/476 transition and found the entire freeway was closed. (Apparently a pedestrian had been killed on the turnpike, though what a pedestrian was doing on the turnpike is beyond me.) She was forced to take the 202, and she drove right by us without ever realizing it.

Needless to say, she didn’t arrive at the airport until 1:15 pm, five hours after my cousin had landed. Meanwhile, my mother-in-law had been sitting in the diner for over three hours, so I called Enterprise rent-a-car and they came and collected us. I drove the rental back to the farm (an hour and a half away), dropped off my mother-in-law, picked up my cousin, and drove back to Delaware, to pick up my car. (I needed my cousin because the car rental was now closed, and the auto shop was four miles away.)

I actually calculated that between the four of us, we spent 36 hours driving and waiting that day. At the end of the week, my cousin’s flight home was at noon but she was ready to go at 5am, because she really thought we were five hours from the airport. (On the bright side, I got to check off “Delaware” from my list of states visited, which pushed me over the half-way mark.)


2006 PAII conference

Two years ago, when we had no idea what we were doing, we went to a PAII conference (Professional Association of Innkeepers something, pronounced “pie”) in Rhode Island. Last weekend we attended the PAII conference in Phoenix, and we realized that in two years, we still have no idea what we are doing.

I think about how far we’ve come and how much we’ve accomplished in two years, and I realize that we should have started ten years ago. My first workshop was on photography, and at the end of the class I asked, “What if you’re not open yet and don’t have any rooms you can take pictures of?” They said take pictures of the furnishings. I said, “What if all of your furniture is in a tractor trailing waiting to be restored?” They said, take pictures of the building. I said, “What if you’re still under construction and can’t take pictures yet?” They said take pictures of the property. I said, “What if your new septic system went in late last year and they couldn’t reseed the yard before the first frost and so your property is just a giant mudball?” That stumped them for a bit, but then they suggested decorating our bed and taking pictures of that. That, I could do.

Most of the other workshops I took were on marketing, and I got a lot of great ideas. For example, funeral directors are a great source of referrals (but they want you to take “grief sensitivity” training) and schools also have a lot of out-of-town guests. As I just discovered, Lancaster has seven colleges and universities plus Linden Hall, in Lititz, which is the oldest all-girl school in the country. (Their most famous graduate is Bea Arthur, star of Maude and Golden Girls, who I understand dated Dawn’s father for a short while.)

We also networked quite a bit, and met the owners of Flowers and Thyme B&B and King’s Cottage B&B. For some odd reason, I mentioned we were trying to find a range hood that we could retrofit for a fireplace, and it turns out that Don, owner of Flowers and Thyme, installs range hoods! (This led to Don and Dawn having a very technical discussion of duct sizes and flue lengths, while the rest of us looked on in a deeply disturbed sort of way.)

The best part of the conference, though, was the hotel we were at, because it reminded everyone why we like B&Bs. Personal service, unique rooms, friendliness, comfort–all of these were completely lacking at the hotel. We may not have refrigerators in the room, but we won’t charge $4 for a bottle of water, either. (And you won’t have to take a golf cart to get to your room.)

FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 2006

B&B Convention

Dawn and I are meeting in Phoenix this weekend for a four-day B&B convention, with such titillating workshops as:

  • Selling to the Affluent
  • Yield Management for Inns
  • Master of Disaster: Planning for the Worst
  • The Art of Fruit
  • WalMart Budget, Tiffany Dreams
  • First, Do No Harm: Safety in the Kitchen
  • Granola…Much More Than Cereal
  • Internet Boot Camp Part I
  • One Wheat-Free-Vegan-South Beach Breakfast Coming Right Up

And my favorite…

  • Blogging for Business

The scary part is, I find all of this fascinating. Perhaps it’s just learning something new, or because it’s so different than my usual routine, but I¬†want¬†to go to “Capitalizing on Changing Guest Expectations” and “Profitable Green Trends.”

After the convention, we’ll return to Pennsylvania where I’ve already got a full schedule lined up:

  • File taxes
  • Visit a local winery
  • Review schedule, kitchen cabinets with the contractor
  • Visit the furniture
  • Hire a landscapist (is that a word?)
  • Meet with the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
  • Pick up a copy of the Lititz directory
  • Make final decisions on¬†paint colors¬†and¬†lighting
  • And, of course…

  • Give a tour on¬†April 8th at 10am

My cousin is also coming up from South Carolina to help with the design, furniture, and marketing. She’s terrified of airplanes and really wanted to make the 11-hour drive (or 12-hour train ride) but we somehow convinced her to take the 2-hour flight. Yesterday she told me she had a new pair of pajamas and a prescription for valium, and was all set. If nothing else, this trip won’t be dull.

And finally, we got our second reservation request today, but I don’t think it counts because it was from the same person who made the¬†first reservation request! Of course, last August I told her we’d be open in May, so now I had to back-pedal and tell her mid-June.



I just loaded three months’ of receipts into Quicken, and it told me we’d spent $173,000.

I was upset, I was mortified, but I wasn’t surprised.

I was also wrong. Turned out I’d seriously screwed something up and the actual figure was under $100,000, but that’s not the point. The point is that when I saw the first figure, I never thought to myself, “that can’t be right.” I just accepted it.

I didn’t use to be that way. When Dawn and I bought our house in Los Angeles, my hands were shaking so badly I couldn’t sign the check for the down payment. When I found an expensive pair of binoculars I wanted on sale on the Internet, I still couldn’t bring myself to order them. (I tricked Dawn into doing it.) And when I decided to buy a laptop, I went on eBay and got a three-year-old system that weighs 20 pounds. (I’m using it right now and I have no feeling in my legs.)

But everything is relative, and when I see checks being written for $50,000 (thankfully I’m not writing them), I think, why am I denying myself? So last month I bought a new computer and gave my six-year-old system to my neighbor. Last week I bought a crystal globe that I thought was pretty. And yesterday I went and saw a show that I’d never heard of.

But you know what? It took me a month to decide on the best value components for the PC. I went to the store three times before I bought the crystal globe (which was on sale for $20). And I got a 15% discount on the show tickets.

So it’s still me, and I’ll always be careful with money. Which creates a paradox, because I would never stay at my own B&B.

It doesn’t matter that the room has a fireplace and a whirlpool bath and a kitchen and it’s a private cottage with a view of the creek and it’s almost 250 years old and there’s 120 acres and wolves and it’s on the National Register and I’m supporting something worthwhile — $200/night is just too much. I’d balk at $100/night.

That’s not to say I’m going to lower the price. There’s a lot of people out there with much healthier attitudes towards money than me who probably think it’s a bargain. Plus I have a major restoration to pay for, and I really would like to rebuild my retirement fund. So no, the price won’t change, but there’s a lot of pressure on me to make sure all of our guests feel they get a good value. And that scares me.

I’ve never cooked breakfast for twelve people. When I make a bed, it looks pre-slept in. My idea of cleaning up is to put everything in the sink and pray for divine intervention. These are not the skills of a great innkeeper.

But I do have two things going for me: pride and laziness. Pride is what makes me offer tours when I’m in town, which makes me open the doors and invite people in, which makes me advertise so more people come. Laziness is what makes me automate everything, keeping it simple so it all flows like clockwork. It’s already hard work; I don’t need to make it harder.

So armed with those “virtues,” I know that I will make this work. And I know that soon those $50,000 checks will stop, and we’ll crawl our way out of the red.

And maybe, just maybe, someday Dawn and I will take a vacation and I’ll spend $200/night to stay someplace really nice.



Dawn sends status…and pictures!

[My comments in brackets. -Gregg]
  • Two of the painters, Elmer Stoltzfus and Southern Long, started on Monday in the offices [third floor attic area] of the mansion. They should finish tomorrow and start moving down the stairs to Bill’s room, then the Boys’ room, then the hallway, then maybe to the game room. Jay Bowman started today and is working in Kathryn’s room, finishing what Matt started. The weather is fair but cold, just above 40, so Matt is prepping the exterior wood. Carl Stoltzfus is to start on the first floor in mid-April, if we need him.
  • The electricians will be back on April 3 to finish the rough-in in the Summer Kithchen, then come back to the Mansion for outlets and switches, and whatever else is ready at that time.
  • The alarm guy will be here next week to drill holes in the window sills. [After all the work Dawn did to the windows, drilling holes in them seems a shame, but it’s the only way to hide the alarm sensors.]
  • Brian and Henry have finished repointing the back of the house and have started on the west side, so now we have to install the stove vent so that it can be set while the scaffolding is up.
  • I have to take care of the driveway guy this week.
  • I will see the tile guy next Wednesday to sign a contract and order the tile for the bathrooms and surrounds for the whirlpools.
  • J Miller is checking on the generator. [We are buying a whole-house generator in case power goes out.]
  • Brian will start the drain and floor in the workshop next week, and then the plumbers will be back to finish the air conditioning units. [Funny story below. Well, not really funny.]
  • As soon as the electricians are done in the Summer Kitchen, the plumbers will finish their rough-in in the Summer Kitchen, then we have to do the downstairs floor. I will most likely get the flooring from Sylvan Brandt, in Lititz.
  • I have begun research on the kitchenettes and will let you know what I come up with very soon.
  • I am still working on colors, and hope to buy the paint next week.
  • The roof on the Summer Kitchen is done and the patches have been made to the Paymaster’s Office. The privy roof will be done by June, but we don’t know exactly when yet.
  • The trim on both third floors is done and Darin has completed the moldings on all mansion windows. He has taken measurements of all windows and is pricing interior storms for all three buildings. All sashes have been pulled from the Summer Kitchen and Paymaster’s Office and are over at Village Glass having the glass removed, then they will come back here for me to strip them.
  • I am sure there is more, but I can’t think of it right now. I should be done with the list you gave me by tomorrow and will scan and email it to you.
[* In the workshop, the first floor is below ground level, and there was a water line on the walls about a foot above the floor. However, after six months we did not notice any water seeping in, so Brian went ahead and started painting. No sooner had he finished then the rain started, and it didn’t stop for a week. When it was done, the first floor was flooded — right to the old water line — and all of the new paint peeled right off. Thank goodness we hadn’t installed the air conditioning units yet, as I don’t think the warranty covers standing in two feet of water…]
The Summer Kitchen, with its new slate roof, looks like a smaller version of the mansion.

The Summer Kitchen, with its new slate roof, looks like a smaller version of the mansion.

FRIDAY, MARCH 17, 2006

Awesome facts about the history and restoration of our B&B

If anyone is interested, here are some of our stories, and I will do everything I can to “feed the beast,” so to speak.

  • One of the walls we removed was made with hand-split lath and¬†hand-forged nails, dating it to c. 1795. We have some of the nails. and pictures of the lath. You can clearly see the difference between the hand-split lath and the machine-cut lath they used when they raised the ceiling, probably during the Victorian period. (Not sure if it was because people were taller, or they were just converting the attic from storage to living space.)
  • All of my wife’s grandparents’ furniture was still there, even after being vacant for 20 years, including a victorian art glass chandelier that had been converted from gas to electricity, an Eastlake bedroom set,¬†an antique dresser, a german shrunk, a rope bed (c. 1880), and a¬†crystal chandelier. It was in perfect condition until 2004, when a hole in the roof let in so much rain and¬†moisture¬†that some of the wood buckled. It is all getting restored as we speak.
  • The¬†Paymaster’s Office¬†still has the window where forge employees would collect their salary, and the floor is reinforced with stone where we believe the safe was kept. In the basement we found a cornerstone carved “Henry B. Grubb 1746,” but we have no idea why it was there because it doesn’t belong to our place. We’ll probably donate it to a local heritage museum.
  • In a desk we found a portion of an early draft (c. 1960) of a book about the original owners, James Old and Robert Coleman, written by a local professor who published several books on the history of Lancaster.
  • When indoor plumbing was added in 1941, the plumbers¬†“notched”¬†one of the main structural beams, leaving about one inch of wood in a six-inch-thick beam, then poured four inches of concrete over it for the tile floor, and two bathtubs on either side. The beam spanned the downstairs hallway and we still have no idea how it stayed up.
  • Dawn’s grandparents converted the third floor hallway into a large walk-in cedar closet to protect her furs. However, the only fur we found was a double-headed weasel stoll that was in a cedar chest downstairs.
  • Almost every room has a full-length corner cupboard, but an architectural historian discovered that only two were original; the rest were reproductions built around the Victorian period.
  • A mason pointed out that one of the stone buildings was probably used for training journeymen, as many of the features (including keystones, straight lines, complex cuts, and other stonebuilding techniques) were completely unnecessary and out of place.
  • The windows were replaced in the Victorian period, and the contractor initially wanted to pull them out (all 52 of them) and build new Colonial-style windows. We decided that after 100 years, the windows deserved to be restored. It took Dawn about a day to strip¬†each window, and the whole process took over six months.
  • The floors were also replaced, but in the attic we found the original wide floorboards (some 13″ across!) under the Victorian narrow-strip flooring. On some of the boards you can still see where they were hand-planed, dating them back to the 18th century.
  • We know that half of the house was built in 1760 and half c. 1795, but nobody is really sure which is which. The architecture indicates the east side was built later, but the west side shows no sign of ever having a front door. Some of the stone pointing also indicates the west side was the add-on. There is an exterior stone wall running through the middle of the house, but along the back there is an inexplicable “jog” where the two halves were joined.
  • There is a massive stone column under the staircase which Dawn’s father, in his youth, decided was hiding treasure, so he took a sledgehammer to it. Fortunately he had only knocked out about half a dozen large stones before his father stopped him. The stones were never replaced, and still lay in the basement next to the column.
  • We’ve seen the original¬†1784 document¬†transferring the property from James Old to Robert Coleman.
  • In the fields we found about 50 years of refuse, including an¬†old boat still on its trailer, with a tree growing through it. Dawn burned what she could, but the metal debris alone filled seven¬†twenty-yard dumpsters.
  • The large, Victorian¬†radiators¬†are all stamped “1874” and are still in perfect operating condition. Again the contractor wanted to remove them to restore the original Colonial feel, but we decided to keep them because they were so cool.
  • We found an Amish roofer to replace the¬†slate roof. They did an amazing job, and the only electric tool they used was a small motor to shuttle the tiles up to the roof.
  • My mother-in-law has an original signature stamp (c. 1800) from Robert Coleman, plus an old glass butter churn and a toy ship that was left by the previous owner (a direct descendant of Robert Coleman) in 1941.
  • After the forge shut down, the Colemans raised standardbred horses, and their pride was one of the sons of Rysdyk’s Hambletonian Ten, from which all standardbreds trace their line. He was buried at the center of the¬†half-mile racing circle¬†(now overgrown) on the property, and a¬†copper marker¬†placed on his grave. Unfortunately Dawn’s grandfather loaned the marker to the local historic society for a newspaper article, and it was lost. (50 years later I contacted the newspaper, but unfortunately they couldn’t locate it.)
  • Finally, we have an 18th-century stone¬†privy¬†(outhouse) which is pretty rare–most were made from wood and were not meant to last, for obvious reasons. We’ve had several people offer to excavate it for us, but so far I haven’t been able to stomach the idea.
amish summer kitchen

The standing-seam roof on the Summer Kitchen was too far gone to save, so our Amish friends are redoing it in slate.

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