I stopped by my friend Debbie’s home a few weeks ago for this shoot – I’d been there once before to say goodbye in anticipation of my trip to China and I remembered loving her property. She was gracious enough to send me a brief history of the home, which you can read below. (This is part one in a two-part series! I’ll upload some more photos of other buildings + pictures of the grounds
later this week next week.)
“Steve and I bought the property in 1986, and got married there in 1987. We had been living in a rented farmhouse just down the road a quarter mile or so, and we drove past the place everyday. The only part of the property visible from the road was a 2-story wood frame poultry house that looked like a barracks; we had no idea there was a house there, too. The place had been on the market for 5 years, but the owner did not want it listed locally. She only lived here intermittently, and struggled. The realtor with whom we were working obtained the owner’s permission to show it to us. She happened to be there when we looked at the place, and as we were leaving, she said that she wanted us to have it and, “just make me an offer.” We offered less than a third of her asking price, and she said yes. Six weeks later we walked into our new home in disbelief, and we’ve been counting our lucky stars ever since (despite the plethora of inevitable ‘once in a lifetime’ home improvement projects that cannot be ignored). The owner left everything behind…furniture, clothes, kitchen stuff, personal items, everything! It wasn’t until our big renovation/addition project in 1995, when we cleared out, and moved back in, that we made it ‘ours’.
As near as we can tell, the house was built around 1870 by George Washington Monger. We have a picture of him and his family taken outside the house around 1900 or so. He began Monger Lumber (still in business in Harrisonburg), from this location. He gathered the surrounding timber, put it on a homemade raft on the river, and piloted it to Harpers Ferry. There he sold the lumber and the disassembled raft and returned home to do it again. The house and out-buildings are oak and solidly constructed. They have weathered various degrees of abuse and neglect over the years. The ‘chicken house’ was converted into 4 apartments in the 50’s, and stood empty from 1975 to 1997, when my brother moved in and renovated the upstairs. (It’s such a cool old building, and the history of its uses is still visible.) We’ve also fixed-up a small cottage, and my dear friend and beloved hairdresser now lives there. It has taken ‘a village’ to care for and improve our place. We knew when we bought our old home that we were committing ourselves to a life of vigilance in fighting the powers of decay. It has been so worth it.”