For as long as he could remember, his greatest wish was to own a mansion. The kind of mansion you only dream or read about in famous novels…and his wish was finally coming true.
The first time he saw what would later be called his “Manor,” he knew it was the house for him. It needed to be painted outside and there was a rickety fence that seemed to have no purpose other than being an eyesore but he wasn’t deterred.
Finding a place to house his car, although difficult with most grand older homes was a must, so he was thrilled when the house boasted a three car garage. He knew the garage wasn’t built when the house was but it had clearly been there for several years. Above the garage, was what could be easily turned into a studio apartment but he had no plans for such a venture.
A little building sat between the house and the garage. The curious little building seemed determined to keep a secret, as he couldn’t get the door to yield to his many attempts to get it open. A crowbar came to the rescue and when he opened the door he stood in silence as he stared at a ten foot tall, genuine TROY walk-in icebox. There were shelves and hooks and he wondered, “is this were the cook prepared the food?”
Thinking it would be a nice conversation piece if moved inside, he was dismayed when he realized that the little house had been built around the icebox and therefore, it couldn’t be moved.
The first time he went into the grand manor, to say that he was overwhelmed would have been an understatement.
Built in 1898, and sitting on a little more than an acre of land, no expense was spared in that grand house. The hand carved balustrades were just one example of the builders’ attention to detail, as were the beaded ceilings with fixtures hanging from medallions and crown molding that trimmed the walls that reached a full twelve feet.
Stained glass windows graced the side of the grand staircase that made twists and turns and he smiled as he imagined children of the past, sliding down the banisters to the dismay of their nannies.
Most of the original light fixtures in the bedrooms had been replaced with ceiling fans but he was already thinking “crystal chandeliers.” The windows, which flanked the fireplaces, were every bit of four feet taller than he stood.
Makeshift closets had been built at the end of hallways. In those days, closets were considered extra rooms and were therefore, taxed. Hence, the invention and use of armoires. He had two antique armoires that fit perfectly in this grand lady and they looked as if they had always been there.
The original tongue and groove hardwood floors showed no signs of creaking as he walked across them and the ten foot pocket doors separating the front room from the dining room, seemed to wail with pain as he coaxed them open for what he imagined was the first time in many years.
The “front room” as he had heard his granny call what in modern times would be the living room, had dark baseboards and window and door casings.
He had never liked dark wood. He found it depressing. Dark furniture that had aged with time like fine vintage wine, smelled like old furniture and old people didn’t bother him, but the trim did. The front room and the dining room were the only rooms that hadn’t been taken into the present with a fresh coat of white paint but he would soon remedy that.
Every room had a fireplace with delicately placed tiles that ranged in color from mint green to pale pink. The mantles that encased them were exquisite and each one was different. He wondered how many stockings in the past, had hung from any or all of those mantles.
He had been told by a handyman who stopped by to offer any help he might need, that the original owners had been one of the first signers of the papers to secede from the Union. Aside from that bit of information, he knew nothing about the history of the house.
After settling in somewhat, he started exploring the back yard. He discovered an old well and a twenty-foot chimney with a brick wall that had been almost completely obscured by weeds and vines and seemed to have at one time been the foundation for another small building. What could that building have been?
There were several mature Pecan and Mimosa trees and off to the side, stood a lone Dogwood, that seemed to still be mourning the curse of God.
A fire pit sat at the end of a covered walkway, where he imagined Southern ladies had fanned themselves while sipping Mint Juleps and waiting for a freshly slaughtered hog to be prepared.
He had become accustomed to the long, lonesome lamentations of a train that ran all day and all night. Had that train, in sometime past, provided travel for those same Southern ladies?
Late at night, he would go outside and sit on the stoop to just listen to the train and other sounds of the night. On the third night, he happened to glance toward the garage and noticed a light in the middle window.
To be continued___________________________