Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I took this on Sunday down New Point. There's really no connection between this picture and our historic homes, but if you pretend you're viewing this from a great big porch on a great big estate, then it is indeed relevant. Ignore the fact that very few--if any--historic homes around here face the bay, they almost all face rivers or creeks. But we're just pretending here, so play along if you don't mind.
Mathews, Gloucester and Middlesex Counties are chock-full of homes that date back a century or two. Most of them are located on a river or a creek, and all of them are exquisite in their beauty.
Some famous Mathews homes are: Poplar Grove, which is the site of one of the (if not the only) last standing tide mills and dates back to 1750; Providence, also dating back to 1750, which overlooks the Piankatank River close to the bridge; and Woodstock, a gorgeous home dating to 1730, which is down Port Haywood on the right, just before you get to the old Port Haywood Market.
Rumored owners of some of our historic homes are Tom Selleck and Yoko Ono. I can’t remember who owned what, but I “heard tell” at one point in time they both owned property here. (I'd wager that Yoko owned Poplar Grove, but don't quote me on that one. I always thought Magnum P.I. owned the Hyco House, but don't quote me on that one either. Pretty much don't quote me on anything, and all will be just fine. Again, just play along.)
Once upon a time, Chesapeake Bay Woman attended Gloucester Day School, and unbeknownst to her some of her fellow students lived in some of these magnificent, centuries-old homes. I was completely oblivious to differences in social status, so the fact that I was visiting in—-or was friends with an occupant of-- a historic home was entirely lost on me, still is. (See how I shift from third person to first person in the same paragraph? See how lazy I am that I won’t go back and change it?)
Frederick H. lived in Woodstock, and we rode the same bus. He was older (not older than the bus but older than I was.) One day he decided to call me up. Keep in mind that I was very young – it couldn’t have been more than fourth or fifth grade. I didn't understand why he’d call me at home, and I distinctly remember him saying, “Chesapeake Bay Naive Girl, I like you. Do you like me?” I had no idea he was referencing anything other than what the word “like” meant at face value. So I answered honestly and said, “Yes.” He said “Oh, that’s all I wanted to know.” From there on out, things changed, and I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t leave me alone. Not until many, many years later did I realize he lived in such an important home, but that wasn’t until after he’d long moved away. To think, I might have been known as Chesapeake Bay Woman, Mistress of Woodstock…..instead of Mistress of the Ant Farm. I’m better suited to the Ant Farm, and could never survive in a Woodstock environment. I think the Woodstock Crowd would frown upon someone who dishes out salad onto her guests' plates using her hands. (I only wish I were making this up.)
Another friend of mine named Charlotte lived in what is now known as Cherokee, a former ice house that was originally part of Exchange, another beautiful, old home in Gloucester. I spent many a night at Charlotte’s house, playing Ouija, or making fun of Stevie R. and stuff like that. I always thought the round section of the house was a bit unusual, and if I’m not mistaken Charlotte’s bedroom was on the second story of that old ice house. Let me tell you something, the Ouija board was mighty active there....
Finally, there’s Pig Hill, also in Gloucester, on the way to Ware Neck. In spite of the name, it is not where I currently live, or where the Chesapeake Bay Extended Family comes from. Arguably. My only connection to this place is that my great-grandfather, who was a blacksmith at Flat Iron, made one of the first signs for Pig Hill (which has a cute metal pig on it).
So, folks there you have my brushes with infamy, my dabbles into the world of people who have enough money to live in historic homes, and a glimpse into my fascination with the Ouija board. (OK, so that’s not really what this story is about, but I did love playing Ouija, nonetheless).
I’d love to hear from any locals who have any information or ties to our old homes. I know you’re out there….let’s hear your stories. Also, if you know which homes were owned by which celebrities, let me know.
Oh, and one last thing, speaking of Tom Selleck, and at one point we may have been: Baby Sister was an "extra" in a Magnum P.I. episode if I'm not mistaken. Well, actually I might be mistaken. It might have been Heat of the Night. Or the Price is Right.
But don't quote me on that. Please.