I know exactly how they felt because as we drove up the driveway to interview for this job, I remember seeing this house and thinking, "Wow, it would be cool to go inside that old house". I had no clue that it was actually the managers house that came with the job.
During part of the interview, Lucy, the past manager's wife, invited us over for dinner. She offered to show us the house but told us that we would only get a white house tour - or just the lower level. She walked us around it and I remember being amazed but quite a bit intimidated by the idea of maybe someday living in it. I remember the comment she made as we left that day, "Honey, even if you don't get the job at least you got to walk around the house."
A few months later, we were back for another interview. We ended up having 3 or 4 interviews over 6 months so we were getting a little anxious to know if we got the job or not. This time around I had decided to bring Ava, who was now about 6 months. She came in quite handy this time since I needed to feed her and Lucy offered to let me nurse her to sleep in one of the upstairs rooms. I was so excited to get to go upstairs but my curiosity wasn't satisfied since I only got to see one of the upstairs bedrooms.
Lucy had told me there were 12 rooms in the house and once we got the job I started dreaming of ways to fill them up. We were so excited to get into the house and explore every nook and cranny, especially the attic and the cellars. The moment Lucy and Bill pulled out of the driveway and were out of site, I rushed in. I wasn't disappointed.
The house doesn't quite have 12 bedrooms, but it probably does have 12 rooms altogether. My excitement dampened a little over the next few months as we ended up spending over 9 months renovating parts of the house that needed a little attention. I was pregnant with Nathan, and pregnancy and I don't mix, so I was happy to be in another house at the time while the renovations went on. Gary and Ronnie, the two housing men that work here on the farm, did a great job gutting the kitchen and then putting a brand new one back together again. And another Ronnie and his crew spent an amazing month scraping, patching and painting all the old, chipping, peeling lead paint that was through out the whole house. I spent a incredibly busy few months trying to pick paint colors (extremely tough), designing a new kitchen, and picking out light fixtures. We finally moved in in September of 2006 and actually put things up on the wall about 2 weeks ago (November of 2008).
We spent all last week passing out invites to the neighbors in town and staying up way too late trying to put pictures in frames and pick up junk piles. We've decided the house is always going to be a work in progress but we bit the bullet and let everyone in on Saturday night. Here's what they saw when they came in.
"Welcome to our house - Please sign our guest book"
The Front Entrance
The red room is directly to the right of the staircase and the green room on the left.
The Gone with the Wind Staircase
I tried to take some pictures of the cool features of the house and then frame them for something to put up on all these walls.
Clover Hill Handout
We had these by the guest book in the red room so people could take them with them while they walked around. It tells a brief history of the house and the previous owners.
John and Susan Slaughter moved to Clover Hill in the years following the Revolutionary War. John had fought in the War at the battles of
One of the children of John and Susan, Philip Slaughter, added the front portion of the house including the columns during the prosperous years of apples and cattle preceding the Civil War. During this time many of the out buildings were probably added including the large horse barn, the carriage house, and the ice house. At one point Philip also used the home as a boy’s school.
The Civil War brought many changes to the area. Troops traveled and camped throughout the Woodville area and used many of Eldon Farms current fields as camp sites. The War also brought trouble to the Slaughter family as their youngest son, Edward Mercer, left home at 17 to fight for the Confederacy. Unfortunately, he never returned home to Clover Hill alive and died at the battle of
The years following the Civil War were chaotic in the South. Philip Slaughter died soon after the War ended and his widow, Ann Mercer returned to reside in Culpeper. Over the next 40 years, the ownership of the house is not clearly documented.
In 1905, court records show that the heirs of Hugh M. Smith sold Clover Hill to J. Hill O’Bannon and his wife, Mary Miller. The O’Bannons owned Clover Hill until 1962 when
The Red Room - Dining Room/Formal Living Room
This room is directly off the entrance to the right. It used to have wallpaper and the ceiling was cracked extensively. My sisters (Sarah and Laurel) and Sarah's husband, Joe, and I all got very intimate with this room when we decided to strip the wallpaper rather than have the painters paint over it. We spent about 3 days standing on scaffolding scraping and peeling and sweating. The walls turned out beautiful and this is one of my favorite rooms. We also replaced the antique light fixture with bad wiring with this new chandelier.
I spent the week before the open house frantically sewing these curtains since John had put up ugly room darkening shades last Christmas. Unknowingly, I gave him a projector for Christmas and then watched my fanciest room turn into the media room. I think we've come to a happy compromise now with the new blackout curtains and leather sofas.
This room also has the only pocket door in the house, but it's a huge one. It's the size of 2 normal pocket doors and leads in the family room. It's also usually shut to try to keep little dirty people out of our fancy room.
This room used to be a gold/yellow and I know that's a popular color today but it wasn't with me. This room actually has the most pictures in it, which is funny cause it's the room we use the least. John just got a piano given to him so now it resides in here and we use the room much more.
This is also the room with the nicest bathroom off it and again, the one we use the least. So if anyone would like to come visit we would love to pamper you with the nicest bathroom in the house. Since the house is so old it doesn't have air conditioning, but stays remarkable cool in the summer. We installed ceiling fans in all the rooms we could to help out a little. It's also amazing how open and sunny the whole house is. It was built just right to catch the morning sun and afternoon sun so we hardly need the lights on during the day.
Doesn't a room that says "FAMILY" across the top of it have to be called the family room? I think so. Here are two different pictures of it - Clean and in my dreams- and then - Dirty and the way it normally looks - with the previously mentioned dirty little people living in it.
Highlights of this room include the big, huge pictures of the kids faces, the chocolate brown walls and the cool cradle that John built when Ava was a baby. Lowlights of the room are the toys that are constantly out all over it.
Directly off the family room is the pantry. When we opened up the kitchen we decided to put a half bathroom into the pantry so it is tucked away in the back of this little room. The pantry is huge and holds so much food that we lose things in there all the time.
The kitchen is the part of the house that is the oldest and received the most work during the renovation. The original stone house was built in 1785 by Col John Slaughter (see above handout for more info on him) and he and his wife Susan raised 13 kids in what today is just our kitchen. The kitchen area used to be 2 different rooms - a mudroom that had a half bathroom and laundry and a kitchen that again, had 4 doorways entering into it and 2 windows. It was very cozy and a little cramped before we opened it up.
This is the fireplace before we started our renovations. We knew there was a fireplace somewhere behind the drywall but weren't sure where it was. One day after I had been at Lowe's for three hours trying to come up with a kitchen design that would fit in the tiny room that was the old kitchen, I came back to this. John and the guys had decided to find what was behind the wall and I'm very glad they did. We had a mason come out and fix it up a little, removed the half bathroom that used to vent into it, added an oak mantle and put propane into it.
We ended up overhauling the whole kitchen and taking it down to the original 2 ft stone walls, then building it up again. We moved the sink to an island in the middle and rewired, drywalled and painted the whole thing. We also got entirely new cabinets, all new appliances and lighting and a computer area where the bathroom used to be. It really is the heart of the house now.
We ordered 6 dozen doughnuts and 6 dozen cookies for the open house and judging by what we had leftover, we think we had about 50-60 people that went through the house. We had about 45 sign our guest book and almost all of them were neighbors that we'd heard of but not really met.
It was really cool to meet a lot of people that knew the house or the people that used to live in it. One of our first guests through the door was a member of the family that owned it before John's company bought it. She had lived here for over 15 years in the 50s and 60s and had some great memories of sliding down the banister and moving from one section of the house to the other in the winter because not all of it had heat then. We also had quite a few people that had always seen the house but never been through it and a handful of people that I think were just curious to meet us. We got a lot of comments about how brave we were to invite the whole town but I think it turned out great.
The last stop on the bottom floor was, ironically, the room we actually use to enter the house most of the time. Here is the mudroom, complete with the hangers for the kids jackets and the mirror I found at the thrift store 3 weeks ago.
If you look closely, you'll see that I'm being trailed by Ava and Nathan this whole time and that they were doing their best to help the guests that had showed up. We had grand intentions of filming the whole house while it was clean but we only made it through one room before we had to go play tour guide. If I ever get the house clean again maybe I'll take some pictures of the upstairs and walk you through it too. Maybe.
But better yet, just come visit. We love visitors and then you'll get your own one on one tour.