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I’m just so darn impressed…

August 31st, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

Days after we moved into our dream home here in Bromley’s section of Norfolk, our aged central air system burped a couple times, shuddered hard, squealed loudly and then fell over dead. It wasn’t pretty.

My husband didn’t take it well, exclaiming, “I thought you said this was going to be a low-maintenance house!”

“It will be,” I explained, “as soon as we get the air conditioner replaced!”

When I had the central air installed at my old house, I called Norfolk Air Heating and Cooling and got a bid from them. Their prices were the highest, so I went with another firm. The other firm did not perform up to my expectations. The system was exceptional but the workmanship was not, and after a couple more exchanges, I stopped calling them for service.

When we had a new tankless boiler installed at the old house, I called Norfolk Air Heating and Cooling and got a bid from them. Their prices were neither the highest nor the lowest, but I went with another firm. The building inspector had to return to our house four times, because of several mistakes with the installation. Finally, it passed muster, both with the inspector and me but I was not impressed.

This time, I called Norfolk Air Heating and Cooling.  The fact that they’d won the Virginia Pilot’sBest of Hampton Roads’ Awards” for several years really impressed me. I was ready to pay a few dollars more, as long as I didn’t have to babysit the installer and call his boss twice a day and demand that big ugly problems be corrected.

To my delight and surprise, their price was very reasonable. We replaced both the furnace and air conditioner, and also had a hoity-toity whole-house air-cleaner installed. The house already smells fresher and cleaner.

Perhaps best of all, the men who showed up to do this work were the consummate professionals and showed a respect and thoughtfulness that I thought was long gone from today’s service industries. If I were their own dear mother, they couldn’t have treated me with more care and sincerity and thoroughness. I really was that pleased with their work ethic and their work model and their attention to detail.

The old air conditioning unit was removed Thursday morning and the new unit was in place and working by Thursday evening. They also installed a second return to provide adequate air flow for the new unit, and added filter grates to the old return and the new return.

The other thing that dazzled me was this: NO duct board, but all sheet metal, fabricated on site to meet our specific needs. And the fellow who did their sheet metal work was an artisan.

I’m a tough customer, but their work was exemplary and remarkable, and they left the house spotless and tidy. I highly recommend Norfolk Air Heating and Cooling. And the nicest part of all is knowing that there are still companies that take a profound sense of pride in their workmanship.

Check out the many photos below.

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I stepped into the back yard to see how the guys were coming along, only to find the old unit removed and headed out to the front yard! I was pleased as punch to see four and five men working on this installation throughout the day, and they were all real workers!

Out with the old and in with the new.

Out with the old and in with the new. The old RUUD unit had a manufacture date of 1997 and a SEER of 10. Brandon explained to me that if it was not well maintained, the SEER could have actually dropped well below 10. Doesn't matter now, as this vintage compressor only cooled the house for about 10 days before it went to Compressor Heaven.

The coil they pulled out of the crawlspace was also in rough shape. It had been placed directly on the ground, and not surprisingly, had rusted out. It was quite a bit older than the compressor.

The coil they pulled out of the crawlspace was also in rough shape. It had been placed directly on the ground, and not surprisingly, had rusted out. It was quite a bit older than the compressor.

All piled up together, it really does look like a mess.

All piled up together, it really does look like a mess.

Inside the house, the old return was removed and the old duct was also replaced. The house was built in 1962 and had never had a filter, so the return duct was pretty dirty. Not surprising, after 49 years of sucking up household air.

Inside the house, the old return was removed (in the center hallway) and the old duct was pulled out and replaced. The house was built in 1962 and had never had a filter, so the return duct was pretty dirty. Not surprising, after 49 years of sucking up household air.

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As they were knocking the old metal ductwork loose in the attic (above), some of the dirt and dust was falling out of the old return. This photo was an attempt to catch it in "mid fall." The workers had placed a plastic tarp in the hallway to catch the falling dirt.

The only thing we knew about the old unit was that it was on its second blower motor and needed a third. The second blower had only lasted 23 months. Jaime from Norfolk Air saw that the return duct was too small, which might have causted the blower motor to fail prematurely. A return was added in the den, and the ductwork for both returns new and bigger (and better).

The only thing we knew about the old unit was that it was on its second blower motor and needed a third. The second blower had only lasted 23 months. Jaime from Norfolk Air saw that the return duct was too small, which might have caused the blower motor to fail prematurely. A return was added in the den, and the ductwork for both returns was replaced and enlarged.

In no time at all, the new unit was delivered. It was shiny and new and beautiful.

In no time at all, the new unit was delivered. It was shiny and new and beautiful.

This was the only time when Teddy the Dog pined for the old house and its fine central air. She stared at this painting for much of the day, unnerved by all the beating and banging.

This was the only time when Teddy the Dog pined for the old house and its fine central air. She stared at this painting for much of the day, unnerved by all the beating and banging, occasioned by the installation of the new central air.

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This was a glimpse inside the old return. This is a pretty deep layer of dust and dirt, and this went on for the full 30 length of ductwork.

The old furnace (manufacture date of 2001) was also kind of a mess.

The old furnace (manufacture date of 2001) was also kind of a mess. It was still functional, but old and inefficient (80 AFUE).

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The process of disassembly begins.

It was kind of a mess.

It was kind of a mess.

Teddy waits anxiously, hoping to hear that well have those fresh, cold, magical breezes flowing from those wonderful sheltie-height boxes soon.

Teddy waits anxiously, hoping to hear that we'll have those fresh, cold, magical breezes flowing from those wonderful sheltie-height boxes soon.

The new stuff waits patiently on the curb.

The new pieces and parts wait patiently on the curb.

The old is gone and the new is in place. And what a dandy new furnace it is. The AFUE is 95% and the chimney flue is no longer in use. In its place are plastic pipes; one for exhaust and one for fresh-air (for combustion).

The old is gone and the new is in place. And what a dandy new furnace it is. The AFUE is 95% and the chimney flue is no longer in use. In its place are plastic pipes; one for exhaust and one for fresh-air (for combustion).

And the new air conditioner compressor.

And the new air conditioner compressor.

And voila! Cool, conditioned, cleaned air flows from the magic boxes at Sheltie height.

And voila! Cool, conditioned, cleaned air flows from the magical, wonderful Sheltie-height boxes.

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That "Best of the Best" sticker is mighty good advertising!

As mentioned above, the quality of the work was first rate, and even though it was a surprise to have the old system die such a sudden death, the new system is shiny and new and clean. And I highly recommend Norfolk Air. They remained at our home Thursday night until 8:30 pm, to make sure we had a working air conditioner. Once the unit was fired up and working satisfactorily, they packed up and left for the night.

To contact Norfolk Air, call 963-8365.

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Right Before Addie Died…

August 31st, 2011 Sears Homes 5 comments

Thirty days before Addie died, she successfully organized a Lake Mills chapter of the “Daughters of The American Revolution.”  This newspaper article (quoted below) originally appeared in the Waukesha Freeman on May 30, 1901.

The piece quotes an earlier article that appeared in the Lake Mills Reader and states,

By the strenuous effort of Mrs. E. J. Fargo, a chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution has been organized here, the object of which is to perpetuate the memory of the spirit of the men and women who achieved American Independence. The chapter organized with sixteen charter members and was christened “Tyranena Chapter, D. A. R.” on Saturday last, May 18, 1901. The charter members are: Mrs. Addie Hoyt Fargo, Mrs, Carrie Brown Douglass, Mrs. Charlotte C. Williams, Miss Lora Gary, Mrs Ellen Gary Spencer, Miss Mary Jane Harvey, Miss Mary Emma Russell, Miss Agnes Augusta Hebard, Mrs. Minerva Joslin Fargo, Mrs. Gertrude W. Kemeys-Tynte, Mrs. Alice Sabin Dodge, Mrs. Carrie Harvey Tasker, miss Mary Lydia Harvey, Mrs. Mable Hunt Heater, Mrs. Isabel Copeland Burns, Miss Eva Stiles.

To be eligible for membership, a woman must be 18 years of age and a descendant of a man or woman who was a loyal American patriot.

This little tidbit fascinated me, because my father (Thomas Hoyt Fuller) was named after the Revolutionary War hero in our family, “Thomas Hoyt” (a direct relation to Addie).

And I know that my grandmother (Florence Whitmore Fuller) and great-grandmother (Anna Hoyt Whitmore, Addie’s sister)  were very much into the DAR and my grandmother urged me (repeatedly) to join the DAR, as both of them had. Apparently, it was important enough to Addie that she was willing to exercise “strenuous effort” to create a Lake Mills chapter of this group.

I’d love to know if the Lake Mills chapter is still alive and well. And I’d also love to know if the descendants of these many women - named above - left behind any letters or correspondence mentioning my Aunt Addie.

Thanks to Waukesha resident and researcher Heather Lukaszewski who found this tidbit in the Waukesha Freeman while looking for more information on Dr. Oatway.

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In addition to playing poker and managing the household, Addie also formed the Lake Mills Chapter of the DAR.

Addie

Addie on the steps of the Fargo Mansion with the family, Enoch, Elsie (top right) and Mattie (lower right). Elsie and Mattie were Enoch's children by his first wife, Mary Rutherford Fargo.

Addie

Addie died on June 19, 1901, about a month after forming the Lake Mills Chapter of the DAR. The obituary (above) does not mention her involvement with the DAR. I wonder what else Addie accomplished in her short life?

If you’ve any information to share, or any insights on this story, please leave a comment below.

To learn more about Addie Hoyt Fargo, click here.

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Was Aunt Addie Shot in the Head? (Part IX)

August 30th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

In a few days, I’ll be visiting Lake Mills, Wisconsin, and giving a talk about Aunt Addie. To learn more about Aunt Addie, click here.

Here’s the super short version:  On June 19, 1901 Addie Hoyt Fargo - a 29-year-old socialite in the prime of her life - died very suddenly and unexpectedly from diphtheria. Married to one of Lake Mills’ wealthiest men, Addie lived with Enoch and his two daughters in one of Lake Mills‘ most grandiose homes, The Fargo Mansion.

According to local lore and two published reports, Addie Hoyt Fargo didn’t really die of diphtheria. That was a contrived story created to cover up the truth: Addie died from a gunshot wound to the head, delivered by her ever-loving husband, Enoch Fargo.

The 51-year-old Enoch Fargo was in love with Maddie Hoyt (no relation to Addie) and wanted Addie out of the way so he could marry Maddie. The same sources claim that Dr. William H. Oatway openly stated years later, “No one was fooled” by Oatway’s alleged falsification of Addie’s death certificate (showing diphtheria as the cause of death), and that folks knew Enoch had killed his young wife as she lay sleeping in her bed.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

My involvement in this began on June 13, 2011 when I was cleaning out my late father’s apartment and found a couple old photo albums amongst his possession. Inside the old albums were pictures of people I knew nothing about, and a couple photos were dated 1896. I would later learn that these were photos of my great Aunt Addie, born in 1872, married in 1896, and dead - at the age of 29 - in 1901.

This is the 9th blog I’ve written about Addie’s death and I’ve posted dozens of pictures but of all the pictures I’ve posted, there are four photos that I find especially haunting. I’ve included them below.

Addie

This is a photo of Addie's home in Lake Mills, known as The Fargo Mansion. The handwriting on this photo is distinctively different from the handwriting on the other photos and the other photos' captions are written underneath the photo (on the album page) probably in Addie's own hand. This is a guess, but I'd bet money this caption was written by Addie's sister, Anna Hoyt Whitmore. This photo album was a gift from Anna to the Whitmores (Anna and Wilbur).

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So what makes this so haunting? Addie died in 1901. When did her family find out she was dead? Apparently, not immediately.

My fathers twin brother - Ed Fuller - is still alive and well and possesses an impressive degree of mental accuity.

My father's twin brother - Ed Fuller - is still alive and well and living on the West Coast. For a man of 92, he still possesses an impressive degree of mental acuity. Despite some rigorous questioning, the fact is he knew nothing of Addie Hoyt Fargo. What makes this even more incredible is that Addie's sister - Anna Hoyt Whitmore (Ed's grandmother) - lived with Ed for a time. Anna Hoyt lived to be 99 years old, and was sharp as a tack right to the end of her life. This story of Addie Hoyt Fargo was apparently one family secret that was never discussed. Which brings me back to the original question: When did the family - then living in Denver - first learn that Addie Hoyt Fargo was dead? Because judging by this photo, it appears that she was assumed alive as late as 1904.

My favorite photo of all.

Another haunting photo, this shows Addie sitting in her bedroom. Sadly, this is the very room where she was supposedly shot in her sleep.

Addie

There's a sweetness and naivete on this young woman's face that is wholly compelling. She was just a girl - 24 years old - and full of hope and dreams and ideas. Perhaps she'd planned on having a whole passel of children or maybe she was looking forward to being a socialite, carrying the torch for whatever causes that filled her heart with passion. She's so young and sincere-looking in this photo. So untarnished by the world. And five years later, she'd be dead, murdered (allegedly) by the man that had promised to love her for the rest of his life.

Addie

The most haunting photo of them all, is this one. It's a comparison of Addie's wedding photo with the last known photo taken sometime in late 1900. This photo presents an argument that Addie was sickly at the end of her life. Given the jagged and receding hairline (on the right), one could make a case that she was suffering from arsenic poisoning. There's also a swollen lip and other distortions around her nose. Perhaps she fell down a flight of stairs and landed on her face. I understand that Victorian-era women were very prone to such accidents. It's my theory that this photo - sent to her brother-in-law Wilbur Whitmore - was a plea to save her from this hellish marriage - before it was too late. Her message was not received in time.

Contrast

This shows the remarkable difference in the hairline.

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Comparison of Addie's lips, showing the swelling and misalignment (on the latter photo on right).

To read part VIII, click here.

To read Part VII, click here.

To read Part VI, click here.

To read Part V, click here.

To read Part IV, click here.

To read Part III, click here.

To read Part II, click here.

Was Aunt Addie Shot in the Head? (Part VIII)

August 24th, 2011 Sears Homes 6 comments

In a handful of days, I’m headed to Lake Mills, and yet I still don’t know where Dr. Oatway lived in the early 1900s!

There’s a reason that this is so very important.

My great Aunt (Addie Hoyt Fargo) died on June 19, 1901, allegedly from a gunshot wound to the head, delivered by her ever-loving husband, Enoch Fargo. Her 51-year-old husband (Enoch Fargo) had fallen in love with Maddie Hoyt (no relation to Addie), and wanted to marry Maddie.

According to local lore and two published accounts, Dr. William H. Oatway (Enoch’s personal physician and the attending physician at Addie’s death) openly stated years later, “No one was fooled” by his alleged falsification of Addie’s death certificate (showing diphtheria as the cause of death). Folks knew Enoch had killed his young wife as she lay sleeping in her bed. More on that here.

Thanks to Heather Lukaszewski, we’ve now got an obituary for Doctor Oatway (from 1944).

I’m publishing the obit here in the hopes that someone might find some additional clues that I have overlooked. It’s happened before! I hope it’ll happen again!  :)  And maybe - just maybe - someone has a photo of Dr. Oatway!

The obituary, as it appeared in the Waukesha Daily Freeman on  January 3, 1944.

Wauckesha - Dr. William H. Oatway, 72, prominent Waukesha physician, who practiced here for 30 years, died Sunday afternoon at his home, 144 S. East Avenue. Dr. Oatway had been ill for several months and last June submitted to an operation.

After a short rest, he returned to his office in the Putney block but a month ago was forced to his home again because of illness.

Funeral services will be held for Dr. Oatway Tuesday afternoon at 2 pm in the Presbyterian church. The Reverend L. E. Bradfield will officiate. Interment will be in Prairie Home cemetery. Dr. Oatway was born in Carlston Place, Ontario, Canada and was educated in Canada at MacGill university. He graduated in medicine from the Milwaukee Medical College, which later became Marquelle University in 1897, and practiced general medicine in lake Mills for 15 years.

He specialized in eye, ear, nose and throat treatments, and held degrees from the Polyclinic in New York and from Vienna Austria. He began his practice in Waukesha in 1913. Dr. Oatway held memberships in the Waukesha county, the state, and the American Medical Societies and at one time, held the presidency of the Waukesha County Medical society. He was a Mason, a member of the Elks Country Club and was a charter member of the Kiwanis club here.

During World War 1, Dr. Oatway served on the state draft board of appeal and later was a consultant staff member of the government hospital at Resthaven. He is survived by his wife, Alice Hanlon Oatway, a son, Dr. William H. Oatway of Tuscon, Arizona; a daughter, Mrs. Charles Dornbusch, Chicago, and a grandson, William H. Oatway III of Tuscon.

Friends may call at the family resident, 144 S. East Avenue. The Randle Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

To read Part VII, click here.

To read Part VI, click here.

To read Part V, click here.

To read Part IV, click here.

To read Part III, click here.

To read Part II, click here.

Enoch Fargo and his bride, Addie Hoyt Fargo. This is labeled as their wedding photo from 1896.

Enoch Fargo and his bride, Addie Hoyt Fargo in 1896 at the time of their wedding. Addie was 22 years younger than Enoch. He allegedly murdered Addie so that he could marry Maddie Hoyt (no relation).

Addie

Addie Hoyt Fargo in 1896. She would have been a mere 24 years old in this photo.

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Addies death certificate, allegedly falsified by Dr. Oatway.

Addie's death certificate, allegedly falsified by Dr. Oatway. The lower portion shows that the death certificate was certified on June 19, 1901.

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On October 2, 1913, the Waukesha Freeman (newspaper) reported that Dr. Oatway was moving from Lake Mills to Waukesha to open a new office there.  Interesting that, years after establishing a successful practice in Lake Mills, hed up and move to Waukesha.

On October 2, 1913, the Waukesha Freeman (newspaper) reported that Dr. Oatway was moving from Lake Mills to Waukesha to open a new office there. Interesting that, years after establishing a successful practice in Lake Mills, he'd up and move to Waukesha.

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the

Addie's obituary as it appeared in the local paper, soon after her death.

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This obituary attempted to explain her fast death from a slow disease process.

I bet Addie was "very much shocked" too. This obituary attempted to explain her fast death from a slow disease process.

Addie, in the bedroom where she was allegedly shot by her husband, Enoch Fargo.

Addie, in the bedroom where she was allegedly shot by her husband, Enoch Fargo.

Addie, about 1899.

Addie, about 1899.

And heres Maddie, the woman Enoch was (allegedly) willing to kill for.

And here's Maddie, the woman Enoch was (allegedly) willing to kill for. Contrary to local lore, she was not related to the Hoyts of Lake Mills in anyway. Maddie Louise Harbeck Hoyt Fargo was born seven years before her mother (Marie Harbeck) married Henry Hoyt. In 1880, Maddie (then seven years old) was living with her grandparents in Lake Mills. Her grandmother was Elizabeth Fargo Harbeck.

To read more about Addie and Annie Hoyt, click here.

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Was Aunt Addie Shot in the Head? (Part VII)

August 22nd, 2011 Sears Homes 7 comments

Where did Dr. Oatway live in the early 1900s?

There’s a reason that this is so very important.

First, a brief synopsis.

According to local lore and two published reports, my Aunt (Addie Hoyt Fargo) didn’t really die of diphtheria, as is stated in her death certificate. The beautiful 29-year-old woman died from a gunshot wound to the head, delivered by her ever-loving husband, Enoch Fargo.

Her 51-year-old husband (Enoch Fargo) had fallen in love with Maddie Hoyt (no relation to Addie), and wanted to marry Maddie.

Addie had to go.

Allegedly, Dr. William H. Oatway (Enoch’s personal physician and the attending physician at Addie’s death) openly stated years later, “No one was fooled” by his alleged falsification of Addie’s death certificate (showing diphtheria as the cause of death). Folks knew Enoch had killed his young wife as she lay sleeping in her bed.

Addie’s cause of death was listed as diphtheria, providing Enoch with the excuse he needed to get Addie into the ground immediately. If you examine this “diphtheria theory” for seven or eight seconds, you’ll see it’s rife with plot holes and non sequiturs. More on that here.

So, according to the long-lived legends of Lake Mills, poor Addie was shot in the head by Enoch, and the death certificate was falsified by Oatway. Addie’s obituary says that she was “feeling unwell” late Tuesday morning (June 18th) and about 16 hours later (2:00 am on the 19th), this otherwise healthy 29-year-old was dead.

More amazingly, she was in the ground by 10:00 a.m., and there was no visitation. Think for a moment about the logistics of that. This means someone had to dig a grave in the dark of night. More on that here.

Seven months later, Enoch and Maddie were joined in matrimonial bliss.  (An interesting aside: At the end of their marriage, the two lovebirds lived 3,000 miles apart, with Enoch in Florida and Maddie in California. Talk about a safe distance!)

So why is Dr. Oatway’s residence in the early 1900s so important?

If this legend is true, if Oatway was indeed coerced to falsify Addie’s death certificate (a truly grievous offense), then it’s possible that rich old Enoch offered Oatway significant pecuniary incentives. In other words, he paid him off.

In the late 1890s, Oatway was living in a second floor apartment above a storefront in Lake Mills. Pretty modest circumstances, for sure. As of the 1905 State Census (four years after Addie’s mysterious death), Oatway was living six doors away from Enoch Fargo. Unfortunately, that state census does not say where, and despite some serious searching, I’ve not been able to find an address for Oatway in the early 1900s.

If Oatway went from living in a second floor apartment to a Mulberry Street Mansion in the Fall of 1901, that would be a compelling bit of evidence. And when did he move? Was it immediately after Addie’s death? That is also important. And did he have a mortgage on his fine new residence five doors down from Fargo, or did he pay cash? Who owned the house prior to Oatway? Was it a Fargo?

When working on a 110-year-old murder mystery, such questions are of vital importance.

If anyone knows the answers to these compelling questions, or even knows how to find these answers, please leave a comment below. In a few days, I’m supposed to show up in Lake Mills and give a talk, and I need a little help from my friends!

To read Part VI, click here.

To read Part V, click here.

To read Part IV, click here.

To read Part III, click here.

To read Part II, click here.

Enoch Fargo and his bride, Addie Hoyt Fargo. This is labeled as their wedding photo from 1896.

Enoch Fargo and his bride, Addie Hoyt Fargo in 1896 at the time of their wedding. Addie was 22 years younger than Enoch. He allegedly murdered Addie so that he could marry Maddie Hoyt (no relation).

Addie

Addie Hoyt Fargo in 1896. She would have been a mere 24 years old in this photo.

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Addies death certificate, allegedly falsified by Dr. Oatway.

Addie's death certificate, allegedly falsified by Dr. Oatway. The lower portion shows that the death certificate was certified on June 19, 1901.

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On October 2, 1913, the Waukesha Freeman (newspaper) reported that Dr. Oatway was moving from Lake Mills to Waukesha to open a new office there.  Interesting that, years after establishing a successful practice in Lake Mills, hed up and move to Waukesha.

On October 2, 1913, the Waukesha Freeman (newspaper) reported that Dr. Oatway was moving from Lake Mills to Waukesha to open a new office there. Interesting that, years after establishing a successful practice in Lake Mills, he'd up and move to Waukesha.

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the

Addie's obituary as it appeared in the local paper, soon after her death.

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This obituary attempted to explain her fast death from a slow disease process.

I bet Addie was "very much shocked" too. This obituary attempted to explain her fast death from a slow disease process.

Addie, in the bedroom where she was allegedly shot by her husband, Enoch Fargo.

Addie, in the bedroom where she was allegedly shot by her husband, Enoch Fargo.

Addie, about 1899.

Addie, about 1899.

And heres Maddie, the woman Enoch was (allegedly) willing to kill for.

And here's Maddie, the woman Enoch was (allegedly) willing to kill for. Contrary to local lore, she was not related to the Hoyts of Lake Mills in anyway. Maddie Louise Harbeck Hoyt Fargo was born seven years before her mother (Marie Harbeck) married Henry Hoyt. In 1880, Maddie (then seven years old) was living with her grandparents in Lake Mills. Her grandmother was Elizabeth Fargo Harbeck.

To read more about Addie and Annie Hoyt, click here.

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Our New Home, Part II

August 21st, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Today, we celebrate 10 days at our new house, a 1962-built brick ranch in Norfolk’s Bromley neighborhood.

Every day, I find something new about this house that affirms it is indeed, The Perfect House for us. And it also has The Perfect Backyard.

Yesterday, I saw an Snowy White Egret perched atop a branch in the canal, just waiting for his breakfast to swim by. And yesterday, our new fence went in, so that Teddy the Dog could have her freedom restored. Heretofore, she’s been crying like a baby, due to being tethered on a tie-out in the back yard. It was a pitiable sight, and now we have a fenced yard again.

Despite our ten days here at the new house, it still makes my heart leap when I look out the back windows and see that beautiful canal out there. I’ve spent 52 years dreaming of life on a lake, and here I am, living the dream. It sure is lovely.

Here are some photos of our perfect backyard at The Ringer Ranch.

house

We spend a lot of time sitting in that bench!

Today, our new fence was installed, enabling Teddy the Dog to be free again.

Today, our new fence was installed, enabling Teddy the Dog to be free again.

hosue

And it's a beautiful house, too!

Back

Better view of our canal.

view

The other photos (above) show the canal leading up to Lake Whitehurst. This is a view of the canal leading down stream.

Another view of our beautiful lake-front property!  :)

Another view of our beautiful lake-front property! :)

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It really does feel like a little bit of heaven. :)

The

The view from the master bedroom.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s books, click here.

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My Pretty, Pretty Pink House - SOLD!!

August 18th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

We closed on the old pink house a few days ago, and the day after that, we closed on our new home! We’re all moved into the new house in Bromley (near the Norfolk airport)!

The house we left - in Colonial Place - is a grand old house filled with the most modern technologies and about $60,000 in recent improvements.

I hope the new owners realize that they got the deal of the decade!  Beauty, charm, sturdiness, grace together with high-falutin’ fancy-dancy electrical/mechanical systems and super high efficiency heating and cooling equipment.

It’s a grand old house, and it was a fun ride, but I’m ready to start this new chapter in my life - living in a little brick ranch!  :)

My favorite angle is the side, which shows off those quarter-round windows and new canvas awning.

My favorite angle is the side, which shows off those quarter-round windows and new canvas awning.

3916 Gosnold - from the front.

Dappled afternoon sunlight complements the front of 3916 Gosnold.

The

The gated entrance to my secret garden!

And on the other side of the gate youll find bowers of flowers (blooming in the sun).

And on the other side of the gate you'll find bowers of flowers (blooming in the sun).

Something this old house hasnt seen in a long time - GRASS in the sideyard!

Something this old house hasn't seen in a long time - GRASS in the sideyard! The pergola is pretty nice, too.

My daughter said we didnt have enough views of the inside, so I took some additional photos!

My daughter said we didn't have enough views of the inside, so I took some additional photos! View from the living into the foyer and dining room.

The setting sun illuminates the formal dining room, which measures more than 13 x 17.

The setting sun illuminates the formal dining room, which measures more than 13 x 17.

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The formal living room is 13 x 23 and is always awash in light.

And the sunporch - one of my favorite rooms in the house!

And the sunporch - one of my favorite rooms in the house! Kinda wish I'd moved that old floor lamp before I took the photo!

View from upstairs - looking into the foyer.

View from upstairs - looking into the foyer.

Another view of the formal staircase

The staircase has solid walnut banister and tapered spindles.

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Upstairs hallway. Door at the end leads to the third floor.

One of the three upstairs bedrooms.

One of the three upstairs bedrooms. The door leads out to a balcony (over the sunporch).

The bathroom was restored to its original 1920s appearance. Notice the hex tile on the floor.

The bathroom was restored to its original 1920s appearance. Notice the hex tile on the floor.

This old pink house has been faithfully restored to its original splendor, and has a high-efficiency gas boiler (94%+), high-efficiency central air (14 SEER) and a dazzling rainwater harvesting system. Enjoy the best of old-world craftsmanship together with the latest and greatest of modern technology. In short, you’ll have the unique pleasure of living in a beautiful old house with none of the environmental guilt. :)

House is 2,300 square feet with three bedrooms, 1-1/2 baths, with a large sunporch, full third floor and awesome basement.

Price is $287,900 with $4,000 closing cost assistance.

If you’re interested in scheduling an appointment please contact the Realtor.

More photos are below.

To read about Aunt Addie’s murder in Lake Mills, click here.

My old house foyer

The house on Gosnold is a classic Colonial Revival, right down to the details. The image on the left is the entry foyer at Gosnold Avenue. The image on the right is the cover of the book, "Colonial Style." Even the light fixture is the same. The rest of the details are also spot-on. Biggest different is, my rug is not as pretty as theirs.

door

And, we have an original ice box door, too. Back in the 1920s, this door provided access to the back of the icebox, so that the iceman could deliver a 25-pound block of ice to the ice box without entering the home. This was also known as "the jealous husband's door."

fam

The twin grandchildren of the home's builder (William Barnes) sit on the front stoop (mid-1950s). They were born and raised in this house. The home remained in the Barnes' family until 1971, when it was sold to new owners. Laura (on the left) supplied the family photos, which proved invaluable in the home's restoration.

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The house at 3916 Gosnold Avenue.

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Classic lines and high-quality workmanship make this a timeless beauty.

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On the back porch is this old "Milk Door," which provided a place for the milkman's deliveries, whether or not anyone was home (and/or awake!). A corresponding door in the pantry enabled the housewife to retrieve deliveries without stepping outside.

kitchen

The house has 32 windows, and 7 of them are in the kitchen. One of my favorite features in the kitchen are these many beautiful windows. The gas stove (left) is less than 30 days old. The dishwasher and fridge (both stainless steel) were new in March 2007.

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This spacious kitchen was remodeled in Spring 2007.

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The gas stove was installed less than a month ago. Still shiny new!

kitchen

Really big refrigerator does everything but serve you buttered toast in the morning.

living

The living room is awash in light with a western and eastern and southern exposure. The living room is 25 feet long and 13 feet wide.

dining room

The spacious dining room has four windows (six feet tall!) and has beautiful oak floors.

Entry foyer

Visitors to our home frequently comment on the beautiful foyer.

room

Original french doors to the living room and dining room are still in place.

And did you notice those shiny doorknobs on the french doors!

And did you notice those shiny doorknobs on the french doors!

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A view from the staircase.

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Another view of the foyer.

rain

The house is also a gardener's delight, with provisions to collect and store more than 200 gallons of rain water.

garden

Your own private farm awaits: Tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, zucchini, strawberries, carrots and lettuce will be ready for harvest in about 30 days.

Another view

Flowers in full bloom.

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And the world's most perfect strawberry, from my garden.

Finis!

Carrerra marble under radiator and toilet complement the hex flooring. Work was done in Spring 2010.

Bathroom pretty

Bathroom was restored to its original 1920s appearance.

House

This 1930s vintage thermostat works beautifully, controlling a 2011 high efficiency gas boiler.

New-old stock from eBay. Vintage doorbell installed in 2008, and it has a beautiful chime!

It's the little things that make an old house a special home. Vintage doorbell installed in 2008, and it has a beautiful chime!

view

Front entry foyer is 11 feet wide and 25 feet long.

Its done!

Spacious sunporch has built-in bookcases that are 9-feet tall.

attic

Even the attic is spacious and grand! And with a little back-lighting, these windows can scare the beejeebies out of the trick or treaters on Halloween night! If you look up, you'll see collar beams on all of the roof joists. The house is topped with Buckingham Slate (recently restored), which weighs 1,400 pounds per square (100 square feet).

House

Little house (address is 3916-1/2) has a floored attic, vintage windows and slate roof.

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Another view of the little house.

uniquely large yard for Colonial Place

Private, off-street parking and a uniquely large yard for Colonial Place make 3916 Gosnold Avenue a quiet oasis amidst a sea of classic old houses.

Street view

View from the street.

Sideyard summertime view

Sideyard summertime view.

Another view

Another view of the pergola.

To learn about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s books, click here.

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Our New Home - in Norfolk, Virginia

August 17th, 2011 Sears Homes 11 comments

The beautiful pink house on Gosnold is now a closed chapter in our lives, and we’re delighted to be settling into our new home in another section of Norfolk. The big pink house was fun, but we’re grateful to have handed over the reins to a delightful young couple that have an inherent understanding that they are not just “homeowners” but caretakers.

There are countless blogs at this site detailing the work we’ve done to our 1925 center-hallway, Colonial Revival, so this blog will be all about the new house!

The new house is ideal for us, at this time in our lives. It’s a smaller house and a simpler house, and it’s all on one level. The best part is, the beautiful back yard adjoins a small canal off of Lake Whitehurst. For most of my life, I’ve dreamt of living on the water, and that dream has now come true.

When I was a little girl, my mother would walk through the halls of our home saying, “I’m so blessed to live in such a beautiful place. Just so blessed.” Such things leave a deep impression on a little girl, and I’m sure that my mother’s enjoyment of that home is a big part of the reason that historic architecture became my career.

And now, walking through the splendid rooms of my recently purchased 1962 brick ranch and gazing out the many windows at the beautiful yard with its water views, I hear my mother’s words return to me.

I’m so blessed to live in such a beautiful place. Just so blessed.

Realtor Gary Crawford sits on the front steps of our new home. This photo was taken several days before we moved in, and we were there for the property inspection. Gary Crawford was incredibly professional and thoughtful, too. Notice that hes dressed to match the beautiful Ringer Ranch.

Realtor Gary Crawford sits on the front steps of our new home. This photo was taken several days before we moved in, and we were there for the property inspection. Gary Crawford was incredibly professional and thoughtful, too. It's clear that he loves being a Realtor, and that's reflected in his attitude and actions. Notice that he's dressed to match the beautiful "Ringer Ranch."

Close-up of Gary Crawford of ReMax Alliance (Virginia Beach).  Im a tough customer, but I was very impressed with Gary.

Close-up of Gary Crawford of ReMax Alliance (Virginia Beach). I'm a tough customer, but I was very impressed with Gary.

The Ringer Ranch is an L-shaped brick ranch, with the large den on the back of the house forming the L.

The Ringer Ranch is an L-shaped brick ranch, with the large den on the back of the house forming the "L". For several years, my late father had lived in an L-shaped brick ranch and I always thought it was one of the prettiest houses I'd ever seen. The last day he was in that house, I sat in his living room and said a prayer that somehow, someway, I'd one day live in a home as beautiful as his. This house is an answer to that prayer.

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A large Silver Maple and several pine trees in the back yard create a beautiful, park-like setting.

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The sunporch is 168 square feet of heaven on earth. I was delighted to find that these are Andersen casement windows, and even though they're probably 20+ years old, they still work like new. This ravishing room in the Ringer Ranch will be known as "The Ringer's River Room."

Another view of The River Room in the Ringer Ranch!

Another view of The River Room in the Ringer Ranch!

And just off the sunporch is this delightful deck. Weve already found it be a favorite spot, where we can sit in the morning and evening, and watch the fishies jump in the lake.

And just off the sunporch is this delightful deck. We've already found it be a favorite spot, where we can sit in the morning and evening, and watch the fishies jump in the lake.

Front

So come on in and take the full tour!

And shut the door!

Notice the COAT CLOSET! It's a closet that's just for coats! WOW!

When we started looking at houses several months ago, I told my husband that I knew exactly what I wanted, and I described it this way:  I want a custom-built brick ranch from the late 1950s or early 60s, that has had only one owner, and that one owner will have taken extraordinarily good care of his beloved home, and the house will have two baths and at least three bedrooms and a two-car garage. The house will be a step-back in time, and will have its original kitchens and baths, and while other people may say that the house needs updating, Ill be thrilled to find a house in such perfectly original condition.

When we started talking about moving, I told my husband that I knew *exactly* what I wanted, and I described it this way: "I want a custom-built brick ranch from the late 1950s or early 60s, that has had only one owner, and that one owner will have taken extraordinarily good care of his beloved home, and the house will have two full baths and at least three bedrooms and a two-car garage. Entering the house will be like a step-back in time, and our new house will have its original kitchens and baths, and they'll be in pristine condition. In the kitchen, it'll have the original Formica counter-tops with a chrome edge. The bathrooms will be a snazzy color combination with tile wainscoting and walls. While other people may say that the house 'needs updating,' I'll be thrilled to find a house in such perfectly original condition." And I found *that* house! It is a "one-owner home" and it's in wonderful shape!

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The kitchen is in beautifully original condition. Look at that Formica!

Another view of our wonderful kitchen!

Another view of our wonderful kitchen! The Formica counter tops - now almost 50 years old - are in flawless condition. It's just amazing to see a house that's been cared for this well. For many years, I've told lecture attendees that while we may own our homes, we're really caretakers, and we have a duty to keep our homes in good condition. The previous owner of this house (Mr. and Mrs. Martin) lived this principle, and I am grateful.

And perhaps my favorite room is the spacious den, just off the kitchen.

And perhaps my favorite room is the spacious den, just off the kitchen. The den sits behind the two-car garage, and is isolated from the bedrooms - which is ideal - as this will be our "Snoratorium," where Hubby can retreat when his snoring becomes loud! The masonry fireplace is in beautiful condition.

But perhaps the very best feature of the den is

But perhaps the very best feature of the den is the entire wall of built-in bookcases. As my daughter pointed out, I have built and installed book-cases in every single home I have ever owned - no exceptions. It's nice to walk into a house with ready-made bookcases (which happen to be far nicer than anything I ever built).

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Another view of our den, with the matching Realtor!

L

The long hallway back to the bedrooms has a lush, deep-pile blue carpet. At first, I thought the 1980s blue would bother me, but I've grown to love it. Above all, it makes the house incredibly quiet, and that's a big plus. Mr. Hubby has big, heavy feet!

And just down the hallway is the worlds most beautiful bathroom! Its PINK!  And like the kitchen, the formica countertops are in pristine condition. The tile floors and wall are also in beautiful shape. What could be better than a cast-iron, 1960s Kohler bathtub? Nothing! Unless its a PINK cast-iron, 1960s Kohler bathtub!

And just down the hallway is the world's most beautiful bathroom! It's PINK! And like the kitchen, the formica countertops are in pristine condition. The tile floors and wall are also in beautiful shape.

My pink bathtub!

What could be better than a cast-iron, 1960s Kohler bathtub? Nothing! Unless it's a PINK cast-iron, 1960s Kohler bathtub! And the tub - like everything else - is in excellent condition. Mr. Martin was a mechanical engineer and it's obvious that he took great pride in this fine old house.

The master bedroom has its own bathroom, and is also in wonderfully original condition.

The master bedroom has its own bathroom, and is also in wonderfully original condition. The vanity is not original (nor are the faucets), but everything else is much the same as it was in 1962 when the Ringer Ranch was first built.

I firmly believe the key to marital bliss is his and her bathrooms. This bathroom - with its tan and brown colors - is HIS bathroom. It also has an unusually spacious shower.

I firmly believe the key to marital bliss is "His and Her Bathrooms." This bathroom - with its tan and brown colors - is HIS bathroom. It also has an unusually spacious shower.

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I love a tiled shower enclosure. The walls, floor and even ceiling are fully tiled, and there's a handy dandy light in the ceiling! Incredibly, all the tile and grout is in beautiful condition.

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As much as I love the house, I may love the back yard even more. It's on a finger of Lake Whitehurst, and this is navigable water leading to the Lake (Norfolk's reservoir). In my heart of hearts, I really do believe that this house is a gift from God, an answer to many prayers. As I made lists and thought about what I wanted in a house, I never dared to dream that I'd land in a house that was on waterfront property. That was a heavenly bonus. In my career as an architectural historian and lecturer, there were three times that I ended up living in a bedroom because I was out of money and out of options. And while I was sincerely grateful to have a bedroom of my own, I sometimes felt like a fraud - standing in front of a large crowd - talking about houses, while I was too poor to have a home of my own. Now, I *do* have a home of my own and it is the home of my dreams.

Another view of our beautiful lake-front property!  :)

Another view of our beautiful lake-front property! :)

This canal is on a finger of Lake Whitehurst

This canal is on a finger of Lake Whitehurst

B

From the backyard, looking toward the house.

Down by the creek

Down by the creek

H

Another view of the back yard.

The

The view from the master bedroom.

Ted

Our living room, furnished with a few of our favorite things!

My mothers china hutch looks right at home in the corner of our dining room.

My mother's china hutch looks right at home in the corner of our dining room.

Teddy the dog loves the new house and the front door, designed for easy Sheltie viewing.

Teddy the Dog loves the new house and she especially appreciates that the front door is designed for easy Sheltie viewing.

C. S. Lewis said, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

For more than 10 years, I’ve pondered the spiritual meaning of that awe-inspiring quote. Now I’ve started to ponder its literal meaning as well, and that’s a very lovely thing. Maybe by experiencing the literal meaning of that quote, I can better understand its spiritual meaning.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  Soli Deo Gloria.

:)

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s books, click here.

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The Maytown Twins in Marlentin, WV

August 16th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

Several months ago, a friend called and told me that there was a Sears House in Marlentin, and that it housed the local insurance company. While visiting my husband’s family in Elkins, we made a side trip to Marlentin (which as about a 90-minute trip - one way!) to check out the purported Sears House.

As is often the case, the alleged Sears House was not a kit house from Sears, or Aladdin, or Gordon Van Tine or Lewis Manufacturing, or any other company with which I am familiar. However, while we were driving the streets of Marlentin, I found these Maytown Twins, about three blocks apart!

The Sears Maytown as seen in the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog

The Sears Maytown as seen in the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog

Sears

Close-up of the Sears Maytown

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Sears Maytown in Marlentin, WV.

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Sears Maytown #2 in Marlentin, WV. And it's for rent, too!

Sears

This Maytown has been turned into a duplex, but it's still a fine-looking house!

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s books, click here.

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Don’t Let a Good Contractor Get Away

August 5th, 2011 Sears Homes 4 comments

When you own an old house, it’s extra tough to find a reliable, honest, trust-worthy contractor that “gets it” and will love and respect your old house, but I found one.

And now I’m worried about losing him.

Yesterday I got a call from David Strickland, who is *the* contractor that did most of the work on our home in Colonial Place. He truly is one of the most skilled craftsmen I’ve ever encountered. In addition to his 30 years of experience, he’s incredibly gifted and talented and just has a real “vision” for this work.

He’s not just a carpenter who can patch things together, but a true artisan in every sense of the word, and I don’t say that lightly.

As a nice bonus, he’s one of the most honest men I’ve ever known.  If I had a single complaint about David, it would be this: He does not charge enough for his work.

Yesterday, David told me that his phone has stopped ringing and he’s going to have to make some hard choices soon if work doesn’t start up again.

Two years ago, he did a $100,000+ room addition for a friend of mine, and she was thrilled with the quality of the work. And it was a beautiful job. Whether it’s a room addition or a few shelves, he does it all. He’s licensed and insured, and it’d be a sin to lose him to another line of work. He’s too talented and too honest to lose.

If you’d like to see samples of his work, scroll on down. He’s done so much work for us, and I’ve never met another contractor who comes close to this level of quality.

His name is David Strickland and his number is 237-6492. I hope you’ll give him a call.

David installed all the new windows in our house, including these in the kitchen. He did a first-class job.

David installed a dozen new windows in our house, including these windows in the kitchen. He did a first-class job, and meticulously cleaned up everything when he was done.

Theres more than 250 linear feet of crown molding on this little house, built and DESIGNED by David Strickland.

There's more than 250 linear feet of crown molding on this little house, built and DESIGNED by David Strickland.

Another view of the little house. And yes, thats a slate roof. It has a floored attic and five little windows.

And yes, that's a slate roof. It has a floored attic and five little windows.

David redid our bathroom too, and he did a fantastic job.

David redid our bathroom too, and he did a fantastic job. It was a mess of 1980s beige and 12-inch tile and he restored it to its former beauty (1920s era).

The bathroom became my favorite room in the house!

The bathroom became my favorite room in the house!

Another view of our perfect bathroom.

Another view of our perfect bathroom.

And David built this custom fence around our yard.

And David built this custom fence around our yard.

The side-yard fence - also by David.

The side-yard fence - also by David.

Give David a call at 237-6492.

To read about the kit homes of Norfolk, click here.

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