This is Episode #7 in an eight part series chronicling Bob & Jack as they attempt to bring an 18th Century farmhouse into the 21st Century. There is only 1 more installment left and I’m already going through Bob & Jack withdrawal. Make sure you check out their antique business at the Millerton Antique Center and on-line at doodletownfarm.com – Joan
Installment Seven: Accommodating the Present & Planning for the Future
You may remember that we added a small wing to the uphill/front side of the house to match the old sheep barn that had been attached to the left side of the house in the mid 19th C. It serves primarily to block the large new addition in the back from view when you looked at the house from the road. To people driving along the road we wanted the house to look more or less as it did 150 years ago.
On the inside, the role of the new wing was very different. My mother is in a wheel chair these days and the wing is designed to convert from a gallery to a bedroom during her visits. The adjacent bath tucked under the circular staircase is designed to be wheel chair friendly. The shower can be rolled into and all the controls are set at wheelchair height. It ‘s the perfect solution for her visits but will probably function as a master suite in our dotage.
The Stone Workshop
I said earlier that Jack and I retired to Ancram. That’s not quite true. We simply changed what we do. And instead of working 5 days a week we now work seven. To say that we’re now in the antique business puts too fine a point on it. After all those years as curator, Jack has a great eye. He scours the countryside for flea markets and estate sales. We also buy the contents of houses from time to time when people just want to be rid of things. What intrigues us are pieces that are fascinating in how they were made, why they were made or simply how they wound up here in the Hudson Valley. It could be a painting, a chair or an old sign. It could be 150 years old or 50. Rare, valuable finds–and they still happen– are sent to auction. More affordable but no less interesting items go into our shop at the Millerton Antique Center or on our website doodletownfarm.com.
Occasionally an item might need a small repair or some cleaning up before it can be resold. Until the renovation, all of that work was done inside the house. Every possible surface became a worksite. No more. Part of our renovation plans included an 18th C style workshop where our “work” could be done. We wanted it to be a separate structure but close enough to the house so that our winter commutes wouldn’t be too daunting.
We wanted it to look as if it had always been there. We took lots of pictures of stone structures here and across the river for inspiration.
Most of the stone came off the property. Most of the beams and lumber were recycled from the house. Old bricks from a chimney we had to take down is now part of the workshop floor. By the time we got to the workshop our funds were running low, so we did a great deal of the interior work ourselves. Atop the workshop is a cupola that houses an old school bell that Jack had been saving. Don’t ask why.
These days it is more likely to call friends to cocktails than to classes. If you hear it peeling, stop by. Martinis will be chilling.