Monday, November 27, 2017

We Moved!

Sorry that I stopped updating the blog, life got very hectic for a long period of time. A few months before my last post way back in 2014, we found another house that we fell in love with. After nine long agonizing months we were able to close on it! We worked on it for about 6 months before moving in to it, and have been steadily working on it since.

The house was built in 1859 and is a side-hall plan Greek Revival that was originally the Big House of a 2000 acre plantation. it is 4400 sq ft on 2.2 acres.

The blog is incredibly out of date (imagine that!), but I promise I will be updating it soon. I have two years of pictures of the work I have been doing and will be adding posts in the time frame they occurred in.

Here is a link to the blog. It is called The Big White House, which is what my 7 year old daughter called it.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sunroom Exterior Walls

A real, actual post! Yes, I know it's been ages. I stopped working on the house a few years ago because I accepted a new position at work that requires me to travel a lot. Oh, and we've also had 3 kids in 4 years. I am now in between projects that require travel so I figured that now is a good time to get back to work on the house and try to finish it up.

The project I chose to start on is the exterior of the sunroom. I never finished the exterior walls when I built the sunroom, a combination of white pine trim boards with no paint, only primer on some of them, and a major design flaw, caused a lot of rot.

The bottom exterior trim board ended up sandwiched in with the deck ledger board, creating a pocket to hold, moisture and leaves.

The area circled is where the moisture and leaves would collect. You can see all the rot.

I removed all the rotted boards and put up new plywood.

This time around I decided to use siding instead of paneling. I added siding to the bottom and top areas, and installed new trim boards where they were needed. There is now a small gap between the siding and the edge of the deck for water to shed off.

I then caulked all the seams and began primering the trim.

Most of the trim has been primered. Tomorrow I will finish primering the trim and the siding and then I can paint everything to match the house.

I will tackle the windows at a later time. I will have to remove one at a time, strip them down completely, primer, paint, reinstall glass and glaze. Not really looking forward to that part.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Even though I have not posted anything in a while I have done some work on the house. Hopefully I can post that soon.

In the meantime I thought I would post this pic of the house, I didn't adjust anything on this picture, that's the way it was taken.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New Letter Find

Well not exactly new, I found it over a year ago but am just now getting around to posting it. A few years ago I posted about a letter that I found on e-bay that was written by J. A. Aycock, one of the first residents of the house.

Here is that letter again:

Well a year or so later I did another search on E-bay and just happened to find another letter:

In this letter he appears to be making a payment for a judgement against him from a Mr Tool...? I dont know if that's a person or a company.

Friday, July 20, 2012

William Morgan Aycock

I am constantly researching the history of the house. A few years back I pulled all the mantles off the walls looking for things that might have fallen behind the mantle. I found many things, one of them I already posted about was a wedding invitation from 1904. I also found two other letters from 1904. These were in much worse condition than the wedding invitation so I put them up and have just recently found them again.

The letters have lots of holes in them, especially the second one which I am still trying to fully decipher.

The first one is a letter from the Lagrange Sanatorium to Maggie May Aycock about someone named Morgan:

Note: To view the images in their full resolution in Firefox, click on the image, then right click the  image and click on view image. You will then have the option of clicking the image again to make it full size (the pointer will look like a magnifying glass). I hate the way blogger has changed how images are shown.

At first I thought maybe the letter was about her father, Rev. Thomas Guinn Morgan, but he had died the year before in 1904. I have his obituary written out in the House History tab.

Then I looked at the prescription that was enclosed with the letter:

Morgan Aycock. I looked the name up on Ancestry but could not find any information about him.

The letter is written by a Dr Henry R. Slack, a man of some note in his time.

Here is a picture of the Lagrange Sanatorium from 1907:

Then I started trying to decipher the second letter. It was obvious that it was a sympathy letter.  I finally realized that one of the words that was very hard to read was Morgan. Here is what I have so far:

This letter is dated just 6 days after the one from Dr Slack. So now I know why the prescription was never filled. It is addressed to Opal who is one of Maggie's daughters.

I went back and started going over the Aycock records I have to try to find out who Morgan was. Then I realized that in the 1900 census Maggie and John Aycock's first born was listed as Willie M. Aycock.

I looked him up on Ancestry but could only find him in the 1900 census. He was born in 1885 in Griffin, Ga. I know he was born in Griffin because i know the Aycocks lived there then. The only other record of him would have been the 1890 census. Most of the 1890 census was destroyed in a fire including all of the Georgia records.

I'm assuming that Willie M. Aycock was William Morgan Aycock. I don't think it's that much of a leap to come to that conclusion. Maggie's maiden name was Morgan. Back in the day it was common for people to name a child's middle name after the mothers maiden name. Also, after 1900 he just disappears. I can find records on most of the other Aycock's after 1900 but none of him.

After doing a little more research I believe that Morgan died of heart failure caused by Rheumatic Fever. The first letter mentions that his Rheumatism is getting much better but that his current trouble is with dilation of the heart caused by the Rheumatism. The word Rheumatism is a catch-all for many ailments, the most common one being Arthritis. Rheumatic fever is another one. It can cause inflammation of the heart and heart failure according to the Wikipedia article I found on it.

The prescription is for an elixer, "Elix Ferri Quin et Strych". Basically it is Quinine, which is for Malaria, and Strychnine, which is a poison but was used as a stimulant. I think the Strychnine was prescribed to him for his heart.

I believe he died here in the house because in the first letter the Dr. is telling Mrs. Aycock to continue giving him his pills and elixer, plus the prescription that was in the letter so he definitely wasn't an in-patient in the hospital.

The period of time the Aycocks lived in this house (1899-1904) wasn't a particularly good time for them. In 1902 John Aycock's Planing Mill burned down. I believe he had some financial and legal troubles from this because of some letters to his attorney that I have from around this time. In 1903 Maggie's father dies, also in the house I believe. Then their first born son dies in 1904 at the age of 19.

Edit: I have just updated the House History tab with more information on the Aycocks.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Upstairs Hall

We've been doing a lot of work on the house lately. One of the projects has been the upstairs hall.

This is what it looked like when we bought the house:

And here are some current pictures:

For the past two weeks I've been running electrical to new lights and outlets, putting up crown and trim, caulking the cracks in the walls and ceilings, and painting.

Here are pictures of two of the upstairs bedrooms:

The first is our daughters and the second is ours. I have not cut in around the trim in our room yet.

I dont have any in progress shots because I was too busy to get any.

I'm going to throw in a picture taken from the Parlor looking into the Foyer:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Whole House Fan

We've talked about getting a whole house fan for a long time. On cool mornings I open up the house and use a few box fans in the doors to cool the house down, I can usually cool the house down enough to last most of the day without running the air. We've talked about how much quicker and easier it would be with a whole house fan. The other day we finally decided to look into it. We searched Craigslist for a used one and found on in Atlanta for $75.

It's an Emerson 5550 CFM 30" fan. The overall dimension is 42". It had been installed as an exterior gable fan and needed to be removed.

We were able to remove it in about 15 minutes, a lot easier than I thought.

I brought it home and cleaned it up. It is composed of two main pieces, the larger part with the fan and motor, and the smaller part has the louvers. These pictures are before it was cleaned. I had to use CLR on the aluminum louvers to get all the grime and corrosion off.

Next I cut out the ceiling above the stairs and framed in a box to support the fan.

First I used 2x6's to frame the opening then used 2x8's inside the 2x6 frame for the box the fan goes on.

Next I installed the louvers underneath and then the fan on top.

I still have to wire the fan up, it came with a 3-way wall mount switch. I will be installing it downstairs in the foyer. I'm also going to paint the frame that holds the louvers. It will be painted the same white trim color the ceiling will be painted.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Researching for Historical Accuracy - picket fences

Historical Accuracy is very important to me in restoring my house. So when JC posted a comment about my picket fence being historically accurate I decided to make a post on the research I did before building my fence.

Over the years I've seen numerous old house photos and one one of the things I noticed was that most houses that had picket fences used 1x1 square pickets instead of board pickets.

Here is a picture of a house here in Woodbury that was taken in 1908. At the right of the picture is a square picket fence.

 1908, Woodbury, Ga

Another thing I noticed was that a lot of these fences had alternating height pickets. I wanted to do something that would stand out a little so this seemed perfect.

Here are some pictures of alternating height square picket fences that I found while doing my research.

 Undated, Bryan Co, Ga

 1914, Columbia Co, Ga

 1905, Decatur Co, Ga

 1890, Dekalb Co, Ga

 1909, Emanuel Co, Ga

 Undated, Franklin Co, Ga

 1898, Hancock Co, Ga

 1895, Montgomery Co, Ga

1870-1899, Schley Co, Ga

Every one of the pictures above has the alternating height, square pickets. Also, all the pictures are in the same time-frame of my house.

The one major difference in these fences and mine is the board that runs along the bottom in all of the others. I may add this board to my fence, I haven't decided yet.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Picket Fence

What started out as a quick trim-up of the bushes turned into a huge project.

The hedge I was trimming is the Boxwood hedge on the north side of the house, it has gotten extremely overgrown. Not to mention the 18' Oak trees growing up through them. I was holding back on cutting them down because they were great trees and was hoping someone would want them.

In the end I couldn't find anyone that wanted them so I started trimming the hedge with the intention of taking all the trees down. Once again I forgot to take a before picture but here is an in progress one.

The area inside the hedge is a small garden with Azaleas, Nandinas, and Camellias. It is also overgrown with weeds, small treess, and poison ivy everywhere. I cleared this area out once back in 2008, you can see what it looked like then here.

As I worked on it my wife and I got to talking about a picket fence for the front yard. we've talked about one before but never followed through. This time we decided to go price out the wood. After pricing the wood we decided to go ahead and do it.

The first step was to layout the fence line, I used chicken wire fence stakes and string. Then I spray painted a dot every 6 feet along the line for fence posts.

Next came the fun part, digging 45 fence post holes by hand. With the holes dug I installed the posts and concreted them in making sure they were perfectly level all the way around and in a perfectly straight line.

Next came the cross pieces and then finally the pickets. I had to make a jig for my miter saw to cut the points on all the pickets, all 500 of them. In the picture below you can see the jig with a fence picket in it ready to be cut. I ended up doing 2 at a time which sped up the process. I used the same jig in a different position to cut down half of the posts 2" since the fence will have alternating height pickets.

I created a picket with blocks on to get the proper spacing between pickets. For the first fence section I had to lay the pickets out in front of the fence to get the proper spacing. Once I knew how many pickets would fit in a given amount of space I used that to figure out how far in to start the first picket on each section.

In the above picture you can see my spacer picket, I clamped it in place so my hands were free to screw the next picket into place. In the subsequent sections I also clamped a 2x4 to the bottom board to get the bottom of the pickets at the correct height easily.

The fence has 3 gates, a double gate at the front and one on either side near the back of the fence.

 Front gates

 North side gate

South side gate

Anyone see anything wrong with the two side gates?

The north side gate goes to the neighbors yard, which just so happens to be my mother. The south side gate goes to the driveway, there is a drop-off here so I will build a couple of brick steps here.

Once I finished the fence I got back to work on the hedge and removed all the weeds, trees, and sprayed the poison ivy.

Here are some pictures of the completed fence (and boxwood hedge).

The corner posts and the side gate posts have decorative caps on them, the main gate posts have decorative caps with a ball on top, and the rest of the posts are beveled at the top.

The jury is still out on whether to paint the fence white or just use a sealer on it. I think painting it white (our trim color on the house) would look the best but I'm not looking forward to the upkeep.

Here's a before and after of the north side of the house and yard. The before was taken in Sep 2007 a few months before we bought the house.