Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Irvin Room

Welcome to the first renovated bedroom in Freeman House. Welcome to the Irvin Room.

Located on the far north east corner of the home, the Irvin Room is comprised of two spaces - a sitting space and a larger, sleeping room. Shown here is the sleeping room - a cozy, rectangular room with tall ceilings and two tall windows. Inside the room lives an old iron bed, an antique chair and ottoman, two nightstands, and an armoire. It used to house a fireplace, but sometime after 1920 the decision was made to board it up. All that remains of the chimney is about four feet of crumbling brick outside the east wall.

The Irvin Room is a bright, golden space that seems to glow in the morning sun. I suppose that's why I chose to put so many creams and khakis and antique golds/bronzes in this room; it seems to lend itself toward cozy, understated luxury. All of the muted colors are anchored by wood and iron - heavy, solid, able materials. Even the floors are wooden. Pine, to be exact. The trim is too, of course, and is original to the home. It's nailed up with square nails. In the baseboard just behind the door is a half-oval shaped hole. It looks just like the mouse holes on a Tom & Jerry cartoon. (Don't worry. Jerry isn't using it. I made sure of that.)

I adore the Irvin Room. It's named after the family who bought the home in 1911. Reverend Richard Irvin was the town's Methodist minister. His wife, Ella, was known by some as a demanding, hateful woman. Perhaps the Reverend knew her that way, too, because inside the wall between this bedroom and the next we found numerous letters and cards addressed to Reverend Richard. All of them were from women. One lady in particular, who always signed her correspondence "The Girl Who Feeds Chickens", wrote often. A birthday note she wrote him in 1914 is now on display in the house.

The Irvins lived here until the 1920s, and were responsible for moving this house to its current location. Old legend has it that Ella Irvin decided she'd rather have a brick home on the hill instead of this wooden one, so she had men lower the home onto logs and roll it to where it stands today. And she got her house on the hill.

Soon after the Irvins' brick house was completed, Miss Freeman took up residence in this house and, in exchange for room and board, ran it as a three-apartment complex for the Irvins. This bedroom was converted into a kitchen - complete with a pantry - and remained a kitchen until I purchased the home in 2005. Here's a glimpse of what it looked like after we removed the old table, oven, and pantry, but before we ripped out the linoleum and cabinets:

And here she is just after a good scrub, some sheet rock, and hours and hours of sanding and painting:

She's not finished yet, the Irvin Room. She likely won't be for several months. But the transformation is almost as touching as the room's history. And it's hard not to wonder, as I close my eyes at night, who used to sit at the kitchen table - feet away from where I sleep - and eat their early breakfast or make their midnight snack.

It's a charming place. You'll have to come by and stay someday. You'll have to catch the golden sun bathing this room. You'll have to open the windows and smell the roses and hydrangeas. You'll have to read the birthday note found in the wall. And you'll have to wonder why in the world Ella Irvin would give up a place like this.

At least I do.

Welcome to the Irvin Room.


Susan said...

Wow, I love your story. I love learning about other peoples stories and yours intrigues me. I have always dreamed about just packing up, moving, and starting over. I love that the house you bought has history - history intrigues me. I find it facinating that history is filled with true stories. The Irvin room look amazing!!

Anonymous said...

I honestly don't know how I ended up here I think via Brenda or Daisy Cottage...I love your house...it belongs on that HGTV show If Walls Could Talk...I will be back again.

Nice to meet you,
Kathy :)