Saturday, December 31, 2016

#709 Reading 2016

According to Business Insider, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is the most famous book set in Missouri.

Having already read that one some time ago, I opted to read these more recent Missouri books and loved each one.
  • Mrs Grant and Madame Jule (2015) by Jennifer Chiaverini. 
  • Bettyville (2015) by George Hodgman.  
  • The Whole Town’s Talking (2016) by Fannie Flagg. 
In addition to books about Missouri, I also find myself reading literary adventures, books about books and booksellers.  According to Katarina Bivald, "you've got to be something of a dreamer to enjoy books."  She may be right.  These are my favorite literary adventures in 2016.
  • The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry (2014) by Gabrielle Zevin 
  • 84 Charing Cross Road (1970) by Helene Hanff  
  • The Little Paris Bookshop (2013) by Nina George 
  • The Red Notebook (2014) by Antoine Laurain
  • The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend (2013) by Katarina Bivald
  • The Bookman’s Tale (2013) by Charlie Lovett
  • First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen (2014) by Charlie Lovett

Some books aren't categorized so easily, but I love them all the same.  Well, maybe I love that last one just a little bit more.   

  • The Revolving Door of Life (2016) by Alexander McCall Smith. 
  • Underneath the Lintel (2001) by Glen Berger.
  • An Ideal Husband (1895) by Oscar Wilde.
  • Love and Friendship: in Which Jane Austen’s Lady Susan Vernon is Entirely Vindicated (2016) by Whit Stillman.
  • Eligible (2016) by Curtis Sittenfeld, a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Book #4 of the Austen Project.
  • Enormous Smallness: A Story of E. E. Cummings (2015) by Matthew Burgess.
  • Britt-Marie Was Here (2016) by Fredrik Backman.
  • The President’s Hat (2012) by Antoine Laurain.  
  • All the Light We Cannot See (2014) by Anthony Doerr - my 2016 favorite!

Yours in reading,

Sunday, December 25, 2016

#708 Drama 2016

We witnessed plenty of drama in 2016 and a lot of it was on the stage!

We love seeing live actors performing for an audience rather than a camera.  And in 2016, we were lucky to catch 19 live performances - more than any other year.

Yours in the theater,

Friday, November 04, 2016

#707 National Register of Historic Places

Our house is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places!

The NRHP is the official list of historic places worthy of preservation in the US.  It recognizes the architectural significance of the house and helps to raise awareness of the importance of historic preservation in southwest Missouri.

Though we often refer to our house as the Ozarks Bungalow, the official name is the Lewis Shaw Coleman House.  Mr. Coleman and his wife Mary Kate Miller Coleman, whose families both owned area lumber yards, built the house in 1914 on a corner lot overlooking Oak Park.  The Colemans chose a Craftsman bungalow for the style of their new home and included exposed rafters in open eaves, low-pitched gable roofs with wide overhangs, decorative gable beams, large windows to connect the house with nature, and a prominent front porch with tapered stone columns.  (For more details, see our nomination.)

The Craftsman bungalow style was unusual for the area in 1914 and so the construction project made the local paper.  The Aurora Advertiser reported the Coleman family was "completing a beautiful bungalow on East College" and the new Coleman bungalow showed "the progressive spirit of the city." 

Four homeowners later, we are thrilled to be awarded this NRHP listing recognizing the architectural significance of what the Colemans envisioned a century ago.  It is the only home in Lawrence County included on the NRHP.

In our excitement, we printed a temporary plaque to hang by the front door!

Yours in living in an historic place,

Thursday, October 13, 2016

#706 Topping it off

Sometimes when you clean something, you get a better look and decide it needs more than a good cleaning. It should be repaired.

This summer, we cleaned the masonry cap on our brick wall and discovered it was a lovely tan color rather than a dingy gray.  (The builders achieved that tan color using a skim coat of white Portland cement with exposed aggregate sand and we love it.)  But we also discovered the need to repair many cracks.

In previous years, the cap had been patched with a gray cement - perhaps to match its then dingy gray color but more likely because white cement is uncommon here in Missouri.  It's a good thing we enjoy a good road trip because Texas has gads of white cement!  

Chip out the old gray cement patch.

Install clamps to support the new masonry.

Spray water to prepare the old cement.

Start filling the crack with white cement.

Complete filling the crack with white cement.

Expose the sand aggregrate to help match the existing masonry.  (Kelly had sifted out the large sand grains through screen wire to collect enough of the needed size.)

Admire the finished product.

Repeat 17 times!
We're hoping these fixes will keep the cracks from widening this winter.  Plus we just think it looks better.

Yours in fixing up the outside and topping off the brick wall,

Monday, September 05, 2016

#705 Seth Peterson's Cottage

Our wedding anniversary, a secluded jewel in the Wisconsin woods, and the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright - the trifecta for the Johnstons!

In August 2014 (yes, more than 2 years ago!), we reserved Wright's Seth Peterson Cottage in the southern Wisconsin Dells for Labor Day weekend 2016.

We drive up to the gate with all the anticipation that two years can bring.
Less than a mile down the private road, the cabin waits just for us.
 This guy seems pretty happy to hold the key.
 We see from the guest book that we follow in the footsteps of celebrities.
And then we quickly make ourselves at home in this 880-square-foot cabin in the woods and claim it as our own for three fun days.
 The cabin's deck overlooks Mirror Lake. Dock and canoe are provided.
It may even be more fabulous at dusk.

Yours in sending cheers of love from the jewel in the woods,

Sunday, August 21, 2016

#704 National Register - On to the Keeper

The state of Missouri recommends listing our house on the National Register of Historic Places!

August 19 is a beautiful day in the City of Jefferson and Kelly is ready to make our case to the Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. He arrives at the Lewis and Clark State Office building, a very green building on the banks of the Missouri River, carrying his notes on months of research.  He is ready.
Most importantly, we stack the audience with friendly faces.
Kelly expertly tells the story of our house.  Following questions, comments and compliments, the Council votes unanimously to forward our National Register nomination to the Keeper at the National Park Service for the ultimate decision.
We are excited to move the nomination forward and thankful to all those who have supported our efforts with good wishes and advice and hospitality and custom, hand-crafted gifts!

We expect to hear the Keeper's decision by the end of October so stay tuned.

In the meantime, let's celebrate!

Yours in celebration,

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

#703 It Happened in August 1996

It's been 20 years since we first laid eyes on our favorite house in Aurora, MO.

On August 2, 1996, we are living in Kansas City and visiting family in southwest Missouri.  Kathy and Mark are moving to Texas so we're all getting together to celebrate their move - either that or to try to talk them into staying in Missouri!    
During the weekend, the family meets for a meal in Aurora (can't remember if big hats were worn) and accidentally, serendipitously, we drive down College Street and discover the house. 

Our first photos were taken in 1996 when the house was owned by the Duncans and the grounds were so beautiful and well maintained.   

We continue to drive by (or stalk, if you must) the house for the next 13 years whenever we're in the neighborhood until we eventually learn it is for sale - which is yet another story of serendipitous good fortune.

Yours in serendipity,

Monday, August 08, 2016

#702 Intensity of Caring

"I've always felt that the details, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, are more than just nice things to notice.  They are manifestation and expression, a kind of measure of the intensity of caring." - Fay Jones

A tour guide at the Frank Lloyd Wright house at Crystal Bridges once told me that and I believe it.

We are the proud fifth owners of our 102-year-old house following behind the Colemans (1914-30), Moores (1930-83), Duncans (1983-2004), and Holmes family (2004-09).  All have shown their intensity of caring by their stewardship and looking after the details.

So we are thrilled when previous owners or their descendants come from near and far to attend our house party and share memories and photos of the house through the years.

Yours in house parties and celebrating people who care,

Thursday, August 04, 2016

#701 House on the Move

Historic photos of our Ozarks Bungalow are hard to find but we just keep looking.  Sometimes the stars align.

Until recently, the earliest photo we had found is this 1937 photo from Lawrence County in Pictures, published 23 years after the house was built in 1914. 

At the most recent meeting of the Aurora Historical Society, Bill told us about his family's early-20th-century house-moving business using horses and a winch.  It worked something like this...


Lucky for us, Bill still has a circa 1920 photo of a large white frame house moving west down the center of College Street with OUR HOUSE IN THE BACKGROUND!

With a closer look, we see more detail about the upstairs window (previously hidden by an awning in the 1937 photo); we can see a lighter paint color in use on the top floor; and if we use our imagination, we can almost make out the outline of the outdoor porch lighting. The porch visible to the left of the horses belongs to our neighbors Bill and Denise.  The porch visible to the right of the horses is ours.

Yours in appreciating historical society meetings, family archivists, magnifying glasses, and the spirit of house movers,

Thursday, July 14, 2016

#700 The Kitchen Sink - Again

If Kelly has replaced one sink, he's replaced a thousand.

Well, maybe not quite a thousand.  But he does know his way around a sink installation.  And this time, I had the nerve to ask him to install the exact same sink and faucet he installed for me in Virginia.  

Probably because of my birthday month, he moved the sink project to the top of the renovation list.  (We aren't even working on the kitchen!)

We currently have a white cast-iron sink with brass faucet and separate handles for hot and cold.  The white sprayer that is nearly impossible to pull out may have been the proverbial straw. 

We replaced it with an appliance-matching black composite sink with a black faucet and a single handle for both hot and cold.  The sprayer pulls out of the faucet as easy as you please and I love it.

Yours in sink heaven,

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

#699 Sharing the Bachman-Wilson House

The Bachman-Wilson house opened to the public on 11/11/2015 and Kelly has been giving tours ever since.

 As a volunteer house guide, he donates much time and energy to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR, about 1.5 hours south of our home.  The benefits are many:
  • EDUCATION.  Kelly has been studying Frank Lloyd Wright and his designs for decades. To learn all about the Wright house that was moved from New Jersey to Bentonville, Kelly was required to pass an intensive 5-month training program, complete with lectures, readings, writing assignments.  He loved it.  
  • INSPIRATION.  We are often inside this Usonian home and enjoy the designs that make it so special.  We especially like built-in light fixtures and built-in furniture, open floor plans, and common motifs that tie rooms together such as consistent lighting or continuous flooring.  We are inspired in the renovation of our own home.
  • SHARING WITH FRIENDS. The biggest benefit of all is that the Bachman-Wilson house is a draw to  friends.  Of the 49,000 people who have visited the house since opening day, .05% are our friends who have come from afar to go on one of Kelly's tours.  And if we are really lucky, they come back home with us for a longer visit. 
We don't have a photo of everyone who made the trip, but the flags on the map below represent the home towns of those who joined us in Bentonville.  (Unfortunately, Brooklyn, NY had to be omitted from the map for purposes of scale.)   


Yours in sharing the Bachman-Wilson house with friends,

Monday, July 11, 2016

#698 National Register Nomination

For decades, we have admired our Ozarks Bungalow and are now taking that admiration to the next level.  We have nominated our 102-year-old home for the National Register of Historic Places. 

After months of fun research reminiscent of thesis-writing days, we drafted our 30-page national register nomination based on Criterion C: Architecture. 
We included as much of the home's historic background as we could uncover.   And we described the many architectural details exemplifying the Craftsman Bungalow including exposed rafters in open eaves,  low-pitched gable roofs with wide overhangs, and prominent front porch with tapered stone columns.

The Missouri State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) feels the nomination makes a good case for our home's architectural significance and has scheduled our nomination to be presented to the Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (MOACHP) at their August 19 meeting in Jefferson City. Kelly will be making the presentation about why our unique 1914 home is worthy.  The MOACHP will then vote yea or nay on sending our application on to the Department of Interior for the final decision.

If approved, ours would be the first building in Aurora and the first private residence in our county to be listed.  Three commercial buildings in Lawrence County are already listed. The national register is an honorary designation and we hope we will be approved to move forward at the August 19 meeting.  But if we aren't, we like the idea of creating documentation for this home that means so much to us and we like the idea of raising historic preservation awareness.

Yours in historic preservation,