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Friday, March 27, 2015

Part One: 1897 Reeves House--Sprucing Up an Aging Lady

The historic Reeves house jars your brain and cranes your neck as you pass by unable to stop staring. She's a long-ago beauty, shaky and worn, in the middle of modern, revitalized downtown Woodstock. But her look is changing. On a recent day, she had some work done in time for spring. Just think of the house as your favorite, aging lady enjoying a much-needed makeover.  

By the way, a community-wide capital campaign begins soon!

The growing interest in the Reeves house restoration has prompted this post. You can see my September 2014 entry if you want to be apprised of the topic. If you are feeling clueless, your present state must mean only that you are new to town or you have been temporarily blind and deaf! It is an exciting time for the city with the motto: "Her Heritage, Her Vision." How succinct. How true.

Watch for future blog posts that will provide you with the goings on at the Reeves house, and of course, I'll never close without giving you a tidbit of history concerning life during Carrie and Luther Reeves's heyday.

A Day at the Reeves house in March 2015:

Brad McColl of Vizual Methods Media Production sets up to videotape the action at the Reeves house. 

At eight a.m., photographer, Jennifer Carter of Jen Wanders Photography captures scenes with her camera as Ann Litrel gives a rundown of plans for the day.

A Few Cosmetics Go a Long Way:  Figuratively, a touch of lipstick has brightened our treasured, turn-of-the-century dame. Let me explain. Woodstock High School student, Madison McColl, surprised everyone with her heart-felt interest in the Reeves house. Non-profit, Elm Street Cultural Arts Village continues its plans to turn the Reeves house into a cultural arts center. Madison made that organization's goal the focus of her senior project by sponsoring a fund-raising event. The public was invited to an outdoor happening where attendees released their inner artist and painted wooden panels. Each brush loaded up with vibrant color. Intriguing and amusing designs resulted. These panels, sized to cover the Reeves house windows, will prohibit rain, gnawing varmints and other such problems from further damaging the old gal while major funds are raised.

Two examples of  color-rich designs, installed.

Like a little make-up on a woman, the striking art will bring more notice to this preservation effort as people drive and stroll by a vintage structure that still glows with potential. The panel painting event contributed to the Reeves house restoration fund, thanks to a delightful, high school student. . . . We are grateful for your effort and the outcome, Madison McColl.

The first panel is carefully installed.

Contractor, Lane Wilson (right) and one of his crew proceed. Two panels up and about two dozen to go. . . . . .

                                                    A happier front facade!

                                               More art on the back.

Plastic Surgery:  After deliberation with architects and other interested parties, one of the first changes to the exterior is being made: removal of the rear porch. With expertise, Lane Wilson and his crew are doing the delicate surgery that will eventually allow for construction of an L-shaped addition, a classroom wing. No lumps or sags will mar our white clapboard matron. Despite the ouch factor, she'll be pleased.

                                           Workers begin the demolition.

Artist Ann Litrel, a woman with vision and determination, she makes Woodstock proud as she leads the way with this restoration.

At the end of the day, Juanita Hughes (city historian), and Christopher Brazelton, (Director of Operations for Elm Street Cultural Arts) chat about the Reeves house. A zany, blue cat looks on.

History Minute: You go to the grocery store for a nice frying hen, don't you? Not Carrie Reeves at her 1897, in-town farmhouse. According to her last of eight offspring, Sam Reeves (born 1917), the chickens were not in pens but roamed the twelve acres. Don't you imagine they picked that yard and pasture clean of insects, helping every fruit tree, tomato bush and corn plant flourish? All those chickens must be why Sam Reeves said dropping your chewing gum and "picking it up and chewing it again was a real gamble." When Carrie wanted a roasting hen or two (for her family of ten) she chose birds that hadn't been laying eggs. Her selections would be set aside a few days and put on a special diet that cleaned out impurities. Then Carrie had to dispatch the birds herself and dress them. She probably didn't bat and eye. For me, I'm so glad we live in modern times.

Patti Brady is a member of Preservation Woodstock, Inc.

She is author of the contemporary Woodstock novels:

The Heart of a Child
The Power of Her Smile