Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Step Back in Time

Janet here. I love a road trip, especially when celebrating our June anniversary with my DH. Back in March, he suggested we travel to Columbus, IN, the town where I was born and lived for only five weeks. I've always been curious about the house and the town so I jumped at the chance. He reserved two nights at the Inn of Irwin Gardens and I found the address of my house in my baby book.

The day before our anniversary, we drove to Columbus. After lunch, we headed to Ruddick Avenue and had no difficulty finding the house. It looked old enough to have existed back then, yet I was pleasantly surprised by its condition. The owners appear to be painting the scalloped peak. I would've loved to see the interior. But no one was outside and I didn't have the courage to knock on the door. Maybe next time.    

Entrance of the Inn of Irwin Gardens

We stopped at the Visitors Center with its displays of Chihuly glass and booked two tours for the next day, then took a leisurely stroll through a few downtown shops before heading to the tree-lined street of the bed and breakfast. The impressive exterior of the Inn and the walled gardens didn't overshadow the interior. 

The tea room and fountains as viewed from the veranda
photo taken from the website 

The Innkeeper took us on a tour of the public rooms. After we settled into our room, we viewed all the sleeping rooms, open until the other guests arrived. Built in 1864 by Joseph I. Irwin, then remodeled twice, the last time in 1910, the mansion embodies early 20th century luxury. Our room named for J.Irwin Miller, who was born and raised here, was huge with an adjoining bath. Some of the fixtures looked like they could have been there in 1910 but I'd need to do some research to know.  

Living room 

Our room
Our room's sitting area

Besides five bedrooms/suites, the Inn has a tearoom, library, small room built for the telephone and electric elevator and a huge terrace with two sections under roof overlooking sunken gardens and fountains, and even a bronze elephant, replica of the one at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.

Not surprisingly for an historical author, the four generations of the Irwin/Miller family that once lived in this mansion triggered my curiosity. Who were these people and where did all their wealth come from? 

I discovered that Joseph Oliver Irwin immigrated to America from Ireland and fought in the Indian War under General Anthony Wayne, then later settled in Bartholomew County, IN, in 1828. This man was the great-grandfather of Joseph Ireland Irwin, who came to Columbus at the age of 22. 

Joseph I.Irwin's mother had given him 30 cents to ride the train but he decided to save the money for a start in life and walked to Columbus. Not sure of the distance, but I am sure this man was frugal and industrious. Irwin found work in a dry good's store. Four years later he started a dry good's store of his own. He built this house in 1864 at the age of 40. Seven years later, he started Irwin Bank. 

Joseph's son bachelor William G. Irwin, a businessman and banker, hired a chauffeur and mechanic Clessie Cummins. I was fascinated to learn that in the 1920s, Clessie, a man with no formal education beyond eighth grade, tinkered in the Irwin garage, inventing a way to increase the speed and endurance of the diesel engine for use in trucks, buses and race cars. With Irwin’s financial backing, Clessie Cummins founded Cummins Diesel. Though the company struggled at first, sales to the military during World War II and the post-war expansion of trucking, along with the savvy leadership of William's great nephew, J. Irwin Miller, led the company to prominence. 

J.Irwin Miller ran the company for four decades.Today the company has about 40,000 employees worldwide. All this is to say that Columbus, IN, was blessed by one man with an idea, another with the wherewithal to make it happen. I find that inspiring.

Dining room
Columbus benefited from more than just having Cummins, Inc. in town J.Irwin Miller was not only an excellent businessman, he was a philanthropist, who eschewed entitlement and helped establish the National Council of Churches. He was also a patron of modern architecture, the reason Columbus ranks sixth in the United States for buildings designed by famous architects. Pretty impressive when the other cities are Chicago, NYC, Boston, San Francisco, Washington D.C. and the population of Columbus is about 45,000.   

Zaharakos ice cream parlor
We had a lovely dinner and a restful night. The next morning after a delicious breakfast in the dining room of scrambled eggs, salmon, fruit and chocolate muffins, juice and coffee, we took the architectural bus tour, stopping to visit two churches. We had lunch at Zaharako's, a spectacular ice cream parlor, then walked back to the Visitor's Center and our next tour of the J.Irwin Miller house.

The Miller house, mid-century modern

J.Irwin Miller built this house for his wife Xenia and their five children. We were not allowed to take photos inside the Miller House, now owned by the Indianapolis Museum of Art, but we could snap pictures from outside looking in. The reason for reflections in the glass in the photo of the conversation pit and piano and bookcases beyond. The Swedish architect designed small, even tiny bedrooms for the children. Even the parents' bedroom was not large by today's standards. The children's bedrooms might have been small, yet they lived and played among expensive furnishings, artwork by Monet and Picasso and a Stradivari violin their father played. J.Irwin and Xenia lived in this house into their nineties. Though the conversation pit was not the only living space in the house, a brass handrail was installed to help them safely enter it. Of their five children, only Will still returns to Columbus for board meetings and has a residence there. 

I find the contrasts between these two Irwin family homes fascinating. I loved our stay in Columbus. I not only found my roots, I also found story ideas taking root in my head. Think of the historical possibilities with the Irish immigrant, the industrial revolution, the automobile and all the changes they spawned. What caused Clessie Cummins to leave Cummins Diesel, taking some patents with him, and start a company of his own? Think of the contemporaries that could be spun from a family with this back story. Perhaps a romance between an architect and a woman in town. 

I also visited the library designed by another famous architect, but better yet found many Seeker books, including three of mine. It was fun to think that my books were being read in the town of my birth.   

I brought bananas foster French toast, fruit, juice and sausage, the same breakfast we had the second morning of our stay at the Inn of Irwin Gardens. 

Grab a plate and let's chat. Share trips you've taken that have broadened your perspective and enriched your lives and perhaps even brought stories to life in your mind. Leave a comment for a chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card.



Helen Gray said...

Even though I know my home turf pretty well, during the time I was writing my Ozark series, my husband and I took a driving tour of the area where my grandparents raised my mother. Then we toured the bootheel section of the state when I started a series set there.

Coffee's ready.

Loves To Read said...

I loved visiting New Orleans and Santa Fe - both places are fun book settings. So much history to draw from. Loved your post! Please enter me in the drawing.

Terri said...

Janet, I think it is wonderful you visited the first house you lived in. I lived in one house the first 17 years of my life in the town I still call home. No surprises in the horizon. Occasionally I drive by it, but unfortunately the current owners don't take good care of it. That bugs me, my dad took such pride in his lawn and flowers.

I tend to focus on suspense novels or romance set in small towns. No murders in the house - thankfully! And I've never lived in a small town, pure imagination. Maybe I'll take a road trip and visit a few. Small towns not crime scenes. LOL.

Thanks for sharing your trip and great pics. Breakfast sounds great!

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Janet, so much fun. ManO and I just looked up our childhood homes this past weekend to see if they were still there. And whew, they were and kept up.

I have taken a lot of trips but going to Louisa Mae Alcott's home in Mass was a bit bucket list thing for me.

I'm trying to get that ice cream parlor out of my mind but you look great.

Put me in the drawing.

Peace, Julie

cathyann40 said...

I'm boring. I've never been anywhere.

Cindy W. said...

I live to far away from where I grew up, in Tachikawa AFB in Japan. So a few years ago I went on Google Earth only to find the base didn't really exist anymore, all that was left in the area where my house was was a bunch of ruins. Sad.

Janet, the mansion looks beautiful. I live in Auburn, IN so I may have to talk my husband into a road trip.

Would love to be entered into your giveaway.

Smiles & blessings,
Cindy W.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Good morning Seekerville!!!!

Oh, Janet, this is my dream retirement wish, to explore sweet, fun, nostalgic places like this! What a great trip and I felt like I was right there with you. Of course it was inspiring, it's amazing... a part of you and a piece of history.

So perfect!!!!

And I'm totally in on the breakfast!

You know I went searching for the real "Kirkwood Lake" before I started the series. I knew what I wanted, and I plotted a route to take me by several lakes in the Southern Tier and Western New York, but when I got to Chautauqua Lake (between Buffalo and Erie) I knew I'd found it. Gorgeous, big enough to have more than one town to give me multiple settings and just downright sweet and colloquial...

I love the inspiration of setting and people to spawn ideas, and this trip to Columbus was ideal! Good for you!

Kav said...

I'm still drooling over the inn! And I definitely prefer the early 1900s décor to the modern stuff. More scope for the imagination, I think.

I did the same thing you did, visiting the house I was born in only I had to go to Ireland to do that. Also discovered some quirky family one brother lived in a mansion while the other worked as a groom in the stables. I still want to know the story behind that.

Jackie said...

My husband and I love the coast of NC and almost always go there for family vacation. My very first story was born on Holden Beach. I brainstormed it all the way home pitching ideas out to my patient husband. I wrote it and even had the nerve to send it through the ACFW critique group, and revised it more than once, but is now resides on a memory stick.

Maybe one day I'll go back to that story.

Thanks for sharing your trip with us, Janet.

Mary Preston said...

When I was a child my Father had long service leave. We took off in the old station wagon and tented our way around Australia for months.
We got so proficient at setting up camp & pulling it down we could have won gold at the Olympics.
My Mother was fond of saying: "We were never lost, just having an adventure". It truly was too.

I'd love to experience this magical adventure through the eyes of grown-up. (Maybe with just a few more creature comforts though.)

Piper Huguley said...

Great post, Janet! I don't get to go on research trips often, but when Julie and I went to Charleston this past March, it did help me to understand 19th century clothing better.

Sometimes,just the feel of a place, even smelling the old smells help with a current WIP. I was so glad to go and I need to make time to do that kind of thing more often.

I'm going to have some breakfast now! I'm starved! :)

Janet Dean said...

Hi Helen. I've never been to the Ozarks. I need to remedy that! Since you know the area well, were there any surprises?


Janet Dean said...

Hi Loves to Read!

I agree New Orleans and Santa Fe would be rich settings in a book. I tend to write small town midwest, what I know, but I've been to both places. I was in Santa Fe during the Indian Market. The town was inundated with visitors. I enjoyed every minute but would love to go back with fewer tourists. LOL

You're in the drawing.


Janet Dean said...

Hi Terri!

I understand that disappointment when new owners don't care of homes we lived in. I was a little nervous about seeing this one.

I've got this thing about houses. We've visited the neighborhood I lived in for the next ten years. My family moved three times. The houses were beside or across from each other. They were in good shape on the outside. Makes you feel good.

Nice of you to keep the murders out of the house. Far neater. LOL
Sounds like a road trip is in your future.


Janet Dean said...

Hi Peaceful Julie!

How fun that you and ManO visited your roots! Sounds like they weren't far apart. I love visiting houses and cemeteries.

Fun that saw Louisa Mae Alcott's home. Was the visit inspiring?

The ice cream parlor was amazing. The counter ran for miles. LOL Just an adorable place. The pictures didn't do it justice.

You're in the drawing.


Janet Dean said...

Hi cathyann40

Just because you haven't traveled doesn't make you boring. People are more fascinating than houses or towns. The reason we build stories around them or they build the stories, depending on who you ask. :-)

No idea why but blogger let me bold your name. Grr.


Janet Dean said...

Hi Cindy W!

That is sad! I'm glad you didn't spend a lot of money to visit something that wasn't there!

Isn't it amazing you can take a road trip with Google Earth?

My dh has a great great grandfather buried in Auburn. He fought in the Civil War. We took a road trip and visited his grave. You live in a great small town to set a story.

Hope you make it to Columbus!


Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Ruthy!

I love the sound of your road trip! Chautauqua Lake is a great setting. We have friends that go to the Chautauqua Institute or whatever it's called and listen to speakers, etc. They love the area. I had to go out and take a peek. Did you know that at least one episode of I Love Lucy mentions Chautauqua Lake? Thought that was a fun tidbit.

I was inspired by the Irwin/Miller family. I'm eager to explore the possibilities. Makes me want to know who's lurking in our ancestry.

Anyone into geneology?


Janet Dean said...

Good morning Kav! Oh, wow, you were born in Ireland! How long did you live there? What a great place to visit!

I'm captivated by these two brothers. I hope you can learn more about them. If you can't, you can make up something. LOL My dh is always saying that when I'm stuck on a plot point or digging for facts.


Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Jackie. I hope you can go back to the story, or better yet, just reuse the setting. An area we love and visit often deserves a story. :-)


Janet Dean said...

Good morning Mary P. I'm fascinated by your camping adventures in Australia! Any encounters with kangeroos or other creatures?

I'm with you on wanting creature comforts. I camp at Holiday Inn Express. LOL Love their cinnamon rolls.

I had no idea that some of you Villagers have experienced such far off places I've never been.


Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Piper. I love Charleston! I've only visited once but its one of those places I want to go back to.

Savannah calls my name too. All those neat squares and wrought iron gates and downspouts that look like fish.

Did you visit a museum to get a better understanding of period clothes?


Audra Harders said...

How fascinating, Janet. Thanks for sharing your travels. I love taking road trips and discovering the little pieces of history that made our country great.

By definite contrast, I've Google Earth-ed the house I spent my first 9 years in on the south side of Chicago. What was once well-kept, ethic Lithuanian neighborhood is now run-down and mostly vacant. Our house remains the painted baby blue I remember, but the windows are all boarded up.

Ahh, memories. Gotta hold 'em tight so reality can't snuff them out.

Wonderful post, Janet. I can't wait to see what story lines your adventure sprout!!

Ummm, thanks for the bananas foster, too. Haven't had that in YEARS...

Marianne Barkman said...

WOW, Janet. What gorgeous pictures! And how enriching! Thanks

Glynna Kaye said...

What a WONDERFUL trip, Janet! Rewarding from a personal standpoint and from a history buff/writer's standpoint, too! I can just see details of this locale materializing in one of your future books!

I recently "googled" the homes, neighborhoods and towns I grew up in and had so much fun "virtual visiting." Seeing what's changed and what's still the same, remembering people and events. So happy YOU got to visit in person!

Cara Lynn James said...

Really interesting, Janet, and beautiful pictures! I lived in the same house until I went to college and it still looks about the same, at least it did when I last googled the address.

When I was young I spent a lot of time at my grandmother's house. When she died in the 1950s the family sold it. But last year I googled it and discovered it was for sale again after 50 plus years. There were several pictures so I got to see the inside which really stirred my memory. A little deja vu!

Tracey Hagwood said...

Hi Janet, thanks for sharing your pictures from your anniversary. Pictures really are worth a thousand words, I can imagine all kinds of parties an events that went on in that inn.

I was born in Texas but we moved to Virginia soon after. I'm most familiar with the east coast so the most fun and unusual trip I've taken was a sister trip to the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion Nat. Park. Lots of history to discover and amazing views. Terrain out west is totally opposite of the east, fascinating how diverse our country is. I love to travel and see what's just over the next hill, so visiting every state is on my bucket list.

Myra Johnson said...

Lovely photos, Janet, and so true about how a visit like this can inspire story ideas. That's kind of how my Till We Meet Again series got started--our years of vacationing in Hot Springs, Arkansas. So fascinating.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Yay Janet, What fun. Traveling and coming up with ideas from the trip is right up my alley. I just know how that mind of yours started clicking. smile

How fun to find your roots also. Don't you just love learning about those families?

Thanks for sharing and thanks also for the yummy spread. Happy writing and imagining.

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Audra! Time brings change, not all of it good. Sad to see your homeplace boarded up. Love your attitude and your wisdom to hang onto the good memories. Were you the second or third generation in this country? Do you have a desire to visit Lithuania?


Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Marianne!

Whether I use that family and town to spin off a story, I found the time there inspiring. As you say enriching. Important to fill our creative tanks.


Janet Dean said...

Hi Glynna!

In person was fun, but I'm amazed that I didn't even think of the possibility of taking a virtual tour of my roots. Good to remember we can do that, not only with our beginnings but for any place we wish to set a story. Technology is terrific, most of the time. :-)


Tina Radcliffe said...

What a fun trip to take, and I felt like I was right there with you. One of my favorite trips was to the Will Rogers Estate in 2011 with Mary Connealy, Ruth Logan Herne and Vince Mooney.

Bananas Foster????

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Cara!

I'm amazed you lived in one house for 17 years. My dh had a similar experience. I lived in seven houses growing up in three different towns. We truly weren't vagabonds. LOL

How fun to take a realtor tour of your grandmother's house. Do you have any idea how old it is?


Janet Dean said...

Hi Tracey! You've got the travel bug. Love that visiting each state is on your bucket list.

We took two trips out west. Each park is so different yet beautiful. We couldn't get a room in the Inn at the Grand Canyon so drove out in the dark. And I mean in the dark. No lights anywhere. Kind of unnerving to find our way.
The West awes me. In comparison the East feels cozy.

I love Virginia. You're lucky to live in a state with all its early history.


Janet Dean said...

Morning Myra! I would like to visit Hot Springs but I've enjoyed seeing it through your eyes. What did you have to do to get the facts right in a setting that was far earlier than your time there?


Janet Dean said...

Hi Sandra, you take fabulous trips. I'm sure you're absorbing settings and story ideas.

I love hearing family stories. Last night we had dinner with my dh's cousin. Fun to sit there and hear her stories.

One in particular tickled me. This cousin's aunt thought farm cats could make people sick so if she made the mistake of petting one, her aunt would scrub her down with lye soap until she glowed. Her words. LOL

Not sure why her aunt had this fear. I know wild cats often got sick and died. Anyone know if they could pass germs to humans?


Jill Weatherholt said...

Thank you for taking us along on your trip, Janet.
Aw...that staircase, it's magnificent!

Janet Dean said...

Hi Tina. What fun to see Will Roger's digs. And with such fun people! Where is his estate?


Janet Dean said...

Hi Jill!

That staircase is amazing! I'm always impressed with the details and workmanship in old houses. I'm a fan of HGTV so know there's negative sides to restoration and maintenance.


Myra Johnson said...

Janet, the historical society in town was immensely helpful. I also purchased several books on local history, especially books with lots of old photographs and postcard reproductions. And since many of the downtown buildings from that era are still standing, we could walk down Central Avenue and imagine what it used to be like.

Jackie Smith said...

Fantastic, Janet.....thanks for sharing with us! Love the pictures and glad you made the trip. I don't live far from my earlier no need to travel!
Count me in the drawing, please!

Loves To Read said...

Janet - off topic, but I have a question for all you authors. I hear so much about story arc, internal and external conflict, POVs, the necessity of every scene moving the story along, etc. when writers talk about their stories. Is there a "go to " book/books someone starting on the writing journey needs to read? Something that explains these elements and how to incorporate them? I have a niece interested in writing. Thanks in advance for any input - I'm taking advantage of so much fabulous talent in one place!

Jeanne T said...

Janet, what a wonderful way to celebrate your anniversary! There's something special about seeing the first place you lived. My parents took me to the town of my birth many years ago. I think it would be fun to go back now and see it with writer's eyes.

I love how you got so many possibilities for future stories from your time there. And how you immersed yourself in the town.

Loved this. Please put me in the drawing. :)

Jan Drexler said...

Hi Janet!

This weekend my husband and I are taking a similar trip. We're staying in a mansion-turned-hotel in Buffalo, Wyoming. There's a LOT of history there, and I'm looking forward to exploring the town (and the Big Horn Mountains - the town sits at the base of the mountain range).

There's something about taking a trip like that. Being in a different place, in a different routine, and with time to let your imagination go is great fodder for story ideas.

I just finished a story that takes place in Deadwood, so every drive through that area gets my imagination going. I'm sure our weekend trip will give me tons of new story ideas...but I've committed to more Amish stories before doing another western.

Sigh.... So many stories, so little time :)

Pam Hillman said...

Janet, that was fascinating!!! Loved reading about that area.

Hmmm, well, last Sunday, hubby and I went to eat at one of our favorite down-home-finger-licking-good restaurants, The Far Place, literally IS a far place, out in the middle of nowhere.

We took the back roads home and passed a pretty little "creek". But according to my hubby it wasn't a creek, but a canal, and he informed me that there was a canal at so-and-so's property, and one at such-and-such location, etc. etc.

So, now I'm on a research binge to figure out why, how, who, and when all these canals were built. By the WPA, maybe? :)

HELEN, I was speed-reading your comment and read that you toured the "brothel" section...ahem. HA!

Pam Hillman said...

Mary Preston, your Australian adventure sounds AMAZING!

Do you have pictures?

Missy Tippens said...

What a wonderful trip, Janet! I loved the photos. Would love to see the B&B in person!

I went to visit an old Shaker village (South Union) near my hometown while I was visiting my parents in Bowling Green, KY. I definitely got some story ideas brewing while there. Maybe someday…

Tina Radcliffe said...

I am so in love with that stair case, btw.

Missy Tippens said...

Tina, I love it too! So much beautiful wood. Love the gorgeous bed as well.

Missy Tippens said...

Kav, that's so interesting! What a great idea for a story to figure out how the people ended up living in those situations. :)

Debby Giusti said...

Janet, what a lovely town! Thanks for sharing the info you discovered and the beautiful photos. Such a special place to stay. The home was/is gorgeous and a true step back in time.

Some of my relatives live in Columbus, Ohio, home of my Alma Mater, The Ohio State University. Columbus, GA, is south of us and home to Fort Benning, where my son has been stationed. Seems towns named for Columbus always hold an interest, at least to me!

It's hot in GA today, and your photos reminded me of cool breezes and mild temperatures! :)

May I have some ice cream from the shop you visited?

Debby Giusti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janet Dean said...

Myra, I love historical socities and museums and historians. We writers would be hard pressed without them. I can imagine how much fun it was to walk down the streets there with your series taking shape in your head.

The main reason I set my first two books in Noblesville was the dated buildings. And the brick streets around the courthouse. And the courthouse. LOL

Historical writers are slightly nutty.


Janet Dean said...

Good afternoon, Jackie S!

If I lived near my birthplace, I probably wouldn't find the house all that interesting. LOL There's something about the unknown that triggers a desire to know.

You're in the drawing.


Mary Connealy said...

I love old houses, Janet. Every one of those looks so cool.
I especially love that old, beautiful stairway.

The more modern house is such a funny contrast. beautiful in it's own way and probably more livable.
But I like the old places best.

Mary Connealy said...

That house you were born in looks like a bungalow. I once taught a class on early 20th century architecture and I think bungalow is the right word. I live in a bungalow, my current home. They called it the 'least house for the most money.'
But I think that is mainly because they were all one story and the thinking was that the foundation and roof were already done, adding a second story didn't raise the cost that much.

So I raised four children in 'the least house for the most money'.

My husband's grandfather's house.
And he was a tightwad so I suspect he didn't spend much and adding another...what? $1000 to get a whole second floor...would have been a deal breaker for the old skin flint.

Mary Connealy said...

I got the bananas foster too, Tina. That is one classy breakfast.

I'm more of a cheerios girl myself.

Janet Dean said...

Loves to Read, I'd suggest pointing your niece to our archives in Seekerville. There's a wealth of information in one spot that doesn't cost a thing. She can print the posts and read them at her leisure. Also she can get involved with posts, ask questions, even put her name in the pot for a critique when she's ready. Though she needs to be 18 to qualify for winning a prize.

I'd recommend Debra Dixon's GMC, Goal, Motivation and Conflict. Jack Bickham's Scene & Structure. Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain just to name a few.


Janet Dean said...

Hi Jeanne T! Hope you get to go back to the town of your birth and see it from a writer's perspective!

You're in the pot.


Janet Dean said...

Hi Jan!

What a great trip you've got lined up! Buffalo, Wyoming--the name is enough to spark the imagination! Have a terrific time soaking up potential stories.

I so regret that we were near Deadwood on our trip to see Mount Rushmore, the Tetons and Yellowstone but didn't take the time to stop. Will want to read your book!

Amish live in this area. You should come my way.


Janet Dean said...

Hi Pam,

Not sure what canals you have down that way. We have canals in the Midwest that were dug to connect rivers, I think, so barges could haul goods and people. I'm feeling vague. Now you've got me wanting to check the facts on the Internet. I do know the canals were short lived. The Railroad came through and ended the need for them.


Janet Dean said...

Good afternoon, Missy.

You'd enjoy the B&B. I felt like the lady of the manor, not that I told the innkeeper that.

I want to visit a Shaker village! The simple lifestyle is such a contrast to the Victorians! Hope you took copious notes so you're ready when the story opportunity arises.


Janet Dean said...

Tina and Missy, the staircase was just beautiful. But had a lot of steps! I considered them my exercise and the excuse to eat everything I wanted. Turned out I needed more willpower. Or more trips up and down those stairs.


Myra Johnson said...

There's a historical old house about a half mile from us that simply fascinates me. It's been for sale practically since we moved here three years ago. I've looked on to see pictures of the inside. It's been partially restored, but the walls are still stripped bare, so it would take some doing to finish it properly. I think they've zoned it commercial and are trying to market it as a professional building, like a lawyer's office or something.

But I sure would like to live there--although not in its current location on the corner of a busy intersection!

Janet Dean said...

Good afternoon, Debby! I knew you were a Buckeye! We both wear red, but Ohio State creams our crimson way too often.

Columbus is a great name for a town. This Columbus was originally named for one of the first settlers but he got mad about something and moved away so...

Hop up on one of the stools and join me at Zaharakos' counter for a sundae or milkshake. The banana splits are amazing looking. Might try one of those to keep the banana theme going.


Anna Weaver Hurtt said...

I LOVE stuff like this! :) I've had a story (or several) brewing since visiting an old hotel in Florida that has been begging for me to write it. :)

Loves To Read said...

Thanks for the info Janet. I've heard the Debra Dixon book mentioned as well as Dwight Swain.

Janet Dean said...

Hi Mary,

I like the old mansion better too! But I was surprised how impressed I was with the modern styled house.

Fun to think of the Millers going over for a brief stay at lavish Irwin house, which they did upon occasion.

There were loads of interesting details in the modern house. For instance, the interior architect asked the children what was important in their lives and had those things woven into a rug that overs the floor in the family room. It was gorgeous. The harmonizing colors brought the different blocks together.

The older brother sued the younger brother for what he considered poor judgment for maintaining the mansion until their mother's death. He lost the lawsuit. The money spent was small in comparison to the family's wealth. I suspect other issues motivated him.


Janet Dean said...

Mary! You taught a class on early 20th Century architecture!! Now we know where to go for answers on historical houses.

I love your defintion of the term bungalow. Sorry your dh's grandfather was a skin flint! Makes me want to skin him. LOL

The house I was born in has a room upstairs but the ceilings are very sloped. I imagine you'd have to watch your head.

I'm thinking shotgun houses might even be smaller. Seems like you could order those from Sears Roebuck. I may be hallucinating. I need a nap.


Janet Dean said...

Classy breakfasts are what I love about B&B's. Bananas Foster French toast was yummy.

We went to a B&B with an innkeeper who was a vegetarian. My dh got tired of meatless breakfasts. But her food was great. And she kept this huge bowl of blueberries out day and night. The perfect timing to visit Michigan.

I forgot to bring lunch. If you're starving, join Debby and me at Zaharankos for ice cream!


Janet Dean said...

Myra, the house sounds interesting! What style, do you know? I'm not much for fixeruppers but enjoy seeing others do it.

The Irwin House didn't sell when the family put it on the market. After two years sitting empty, it was decided to divide it up in offices. Thank goodness a couple bought it for a B&B and saved the charm.


Janet Dean said...

Hi Anna,

I hope you can write the hotel's story! Is it in St. Petersburg or St. Augustine? Or...

Sorry, I'm getting carried away.


Missy Tippens said...

Janet, I'll have to show you the tons of photos I took next time I see you!

DebH said...

wow. i love this post of nostalgia. Google visited the two childhood homes - all is well. even visited a childhood haunt - not quite the same. it was a mansion with extensive grounds during "my time" - looks like the grounds were sold off a bit for house lots. *sigh* but those childhood memories of exploring those grounds do provide story fodder.

that staircase reminds me of the one in a house I was "caretaking" during my Master Degree schooling days. built in the 1880's, three stories and a fireplace in every bedroom. such an awesome old house. front staircase for the family. servant's staircase at the back. even separate kitchens for family and hired help. the pantry was HUGE. i loved living in that old house even though late nights, when it talked and the critters roamed, i lost a wee bit of sleep. oh, and it has two historical ghosts attached (but I never did see or hear them - just the critters)

put my name in the draw please.

this was such a fun post with commments to read. thanks Janet!!!

that ice cream place looks like a WONDERFUL place to visit.

Mary Connealy said...

A shotgun house...maybe that's what I have. I looked at the picture again and see you have an upstairs.
And I've looked at more bungalow pictures online and lots of them have upstairs. Reading about them on Wikipedia are a bunch of pictures with upstairs while describing a one story house.
So that doesn't match.

Mary Connealy said...

The house I lived in for the first 18 years of my life was so old that it had been retired as a house and was being used as a GRAIN BIN when my folks got married. It was on my grandparent's land so they emptied out the grain and dug a basement and put on a front room and back entry room and BOOM, house. There were two bedrooms, if you didn't mind calling a tiny one attic with sloping ceilings, and a dining room with a fold out couch...bedrooms.
We lived there until my sixth sibling was born then we added on.

Janet Dean said...

I would love to see them, Missy! Sounds like you're prepared if you shoud decide to use that setting for a story.


Janet Dean said...

Hi DebH!

We met some grown ups who admitted to exploring the gardens in both of these houses. Kids will be kids everywhere.

Wow, you have had an adventure living in an old mansion by yourself! Your comment, "I loved that old house." reminds me of It's a Wonderful Life.

One of the two story houses my family lived in had a basement and a clothes shoot that went from the upstairs bedrooms to a slated cage in the basement. My brothers used to slid down that shoot. Even a neighbor girl did. Scared me silly. I was never brave enough to take the plunge. I have to wonder where our mother was. LOL


Janet Dean said...

Mary, shotgun houses are one floor with rooms arranged one behind the other with a door at the front and the back. I'm guessing you have a one story bungalow.


Janet Dean said...

Mary, You and your family were pioneers, strong stock. I'm always fascinated by your stories. Any gunslingers in your family?


Chill N said...

Janet, what a fun "step back in time" you had. Thank you for sharing it with us. The photos are a treat!

Thank goodness for people who love and protect old houses. I was a docent with a historic home for years, and the research I did about the owners and their times has been a great resource as I write.

Enjoyed the histories you found. And what a difference in those two houses!

Nancy C

Valri said...

Janet, I always love seeing you! What a fun post! Loved seeing your travels! I've never really wanted to go to New Orleans but I love the history as I've been hooked on history my whole life! I've been all over the world and have enjoyed everywhere we've gone! Thanks for the info!

Becke said...

I took a trip with my DH to the childhood home of his father in Fergus, Ontario. His father was one of eight children. Although the cousins still own the land, they sold the original family home some years ago. It is not only still standing, the new owners have maintained it. They also let us walk through it.

The cousins came in from all over Canada for the reunion. Jim and his brother were the only two from the US. It was fascinating.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Love that lamp at the ice cream parlor!

I've visited the Frank Lloyd Wright house, the Smithsonian, Prague, lived in Warsaw, Paris, etc.

But probably the most memorable places I've ever visited were New Orleans and Tupelo, Mississippi. My last book was set in Tupelo and that was so much fun to look back through pictures while I was writing. I also called friends who live there and talked over our favorite restaurants, etc. It made me want to visit all over again!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Mary Connealy, your childhood home made me smile. My husband was born in a small house, he said.

I visited this "small house" when we got married in Mexico. It was an adobe structure, not even four feet high inside. Purely for sleeping (and birthing, I guess). By the time we saw it, it had been turned into the goat pen.

My dad was born in an abandoned railway box car somewhere in Missouri, as his family fled the Dust Bowl and headed toward Idaho. I thought he had the weirdest birth site until I met my husband.

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

Loved this post, Janet, and those charming pictures with you in them.
Like yourself, I not only found my roots while traveling outside the U.S., but found a story idea while vacationing in Wales. Those were such exciting moments. Thanks for sharing your anniversary memories today.

Janet Dean said...

Hi Nancy C!

To be a docent, you must've had to memorize a lot of information. Still would be fun to know all that insider stuff.

Isn't it amazing that the owner of the contemporary house grew up in the mansion? Guessing old houses didn't appeal to him.


Janet Dean said...

Good evening, Valri!

I'm impressed with all your world travels! My dh would love that! I'm more of a home body but I did love our trips to Italy, Bermuda, Canada and Mexico and all the jaunts in the USA. Where all did you go?


Janet Dean said...

Hi Becke!

How fun that must've been for you and your dh! I'm tickled you got to see inside the house. Was it grand? Must hear more at RWA.

Fergus, Ontario--must look that up.


Janet Dean said...

Hi Virginia,

That lamp was actually a lit stained glass fountain. Isn't that amazing? There's spigots on the sides, but I may be in the way.

You lived in Warsaw and Paris?? How long. The day is up and I want to know more! You Villagers have led interesting lives!


Janet Dean said...

Virginia, I'd say you have some get story fodder just in your dad's and dh's births! We need to somehow record these interesting facts about all of us!


Janet Dean said...

Hi Pat Jeanne,

Your roots are on foreign soil. So interesting! Wales makes me think of the singer Tom Jones. How fun to find a story there. They are just lying around waiting. Until you're desperate for one. :-)


Amy C said...

Great post! I love to visit with the old section of Pensacola. It is one of the most beautiful historical districts I have ever been to.

Janet Dean said...

Hi Amy C!

I have never been to the Pensacola area and didn't know it had a historical district. Must check it out. Another possible road trip in my future. Thanks for sharing!


Margaret Langridge said...

Your photos are beautiful. It was neat to read this. It reminded me of my visit to Whitehern Mansion last week. I love stepping back in time this way :)

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, Janet, what a WONDERFUL trip, my friend!! LOVED the glimpse of both Irwin houses and the house where you were born -- SO COOL!!

And what's even cooler is that it was DALE'S idea and gift to you -- what a romantic!!

I love both the early 19th-century Miller house AND the modern one, so I could live in either most happily.

SO sorry it took me so long to get to your post -- visiting with Amy and you know how it is when girls get together ... :)


Esther Filbrun said...

Wow. That history is amazing, Janet! And to think…all in the town you were born in!

I can’t say as I’ve visited any particular places that really inspire me—even though I’ve moved with my family several times. The most inspiring setting for me would probably have come from pictures. But when it’s the right picture…wow, does it ever spark the creative juices in my head!

If it isn’t too late, I’d like to be entered in the giveaway as well. Thanks for another interesting post!

Sandy Smith said...

Your trip sounded like a lot of fun.
You got some good ideas for future stories. Sense of place is always so important.

Janet Kerr said...

Fantastic trip, Janet.
For me, Paris still stays with me for its beauty and character & Rome for its history and ruins.