Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Historic Homes


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.

19 comments:

Auds at Barking Mad said...

I've played with a Ouija board ONCE and only once. That's all it took! You really couldn't pay me enough to ever ever touch one of those things again.

I love the names of historic homes and the history of them. There are so many along the east coast...ripe with history and antiquity and ghosts of the past.

Grandma J said...

I love old historical homes. To think that you've actually slept in a house that's almost 300 years old is amazing...I bet back in those days they had a mistress of Ant Farm who served up salad with her bare hands too!

I freak out over Quija. I believe in ghosts, and have had my own confrontations with Native American Ghosts who resided in my home...I mean I resided in their home (I really think one came to TX with me).
I need more info on Frederick H. and middle Sis

Angela said...

I feel left out!! I don`t know what Ouija is (what does it have to do with ghosts??) ans what is TX standing for?
But I`m glad to hear that you are (I hope you still are) oblivious of differences in social status! I also used to attend a school in an area of rich people where the fifth-graders were taken to school in limousines with a chauffeur, and when I was invited to a girls`s party (at 17) there were two butlers waiting on us. But once a girl visited me in my home (out of thet district) and we sewed funny night shirts for us and baked awful cake, and she said she had never had so much fun. That is what they lack I am sure! You with your hand-salad sure have more fun!

Anonymous said...

auburn is one house in the county that has been owned by several "westerners" which will not come to me at 5:49 am but my folks will know and it is also hauted by the wife who fell down the stairs on wedding day!! Great house, great view very creapy when there is only two people in a Massive house when your ten and have been told THAT story!!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Auds - For some reason I was never scared playing with Ouija, mostly fascinated, but I was very weird kid.

GJ - I'll trade you one story about your Native American Ghosts for two stories, one about Frederick, and one about Baby Sis. Two for one....

Angela - a Ouija board had letters all over it, and perhaps a "yes" and "no" and some other words sprinkled about. There was a plastic thing (I know, very descriptive) that you placed your fingers very lightly atop, and you'd ask a question and wait for the plastic thing to glide over the letters or words to answer your questions. Supposedly the answers were coming from the spirit world, but I'm sure there is a simpler explanation. Nevertheless, it was fascinating to a young child who was otherwise bored to tears in a time when videogames were not even a twinkle in someone's eye.... (TX - stands for Texas, the Lone Star State.)

Anonymous - I've heard that story too, about the wife falling down the stairs. If you think of the other names, come back and tell us more.

I'm off to work with no internet access, then to two basketball games in Gloucester, so I won't be back on here until tonight. Have a great day, everyone.

Mental P Mama said...

Ii think I saw these beauties when I flew into Norfolk. Is that possible? I want lots of ghost stories.

Bear Naked said...

Why am I not in the least bit surprised about your youthful fascination with the Ouija board?
And why is it spelled that way?

Bear((( )))

Cool Breeze said...

You could do some research at Court House to find out who owned those places. It is all public information.

(In your spare time, of course.)

Anonymous said...

I called the rent in Fla they were out on the boat I geuss it its nice there today and this is what I found out Auburn was owned buy Nicolas Craw who was the head guy for the Peace corp. who sold the house to John and Yoko they never got to move in cause John got murdered 18 months after purchase but they did come visit twice. They were unsure of who bought it next. As far any other famous stuff she said to go to Ray H. so since I am off to see mother-in-law and they are in same office I will pick his brain. and I got you permission to tresspass on some property on GI that you will LOVE.

Anonymous said...

I guess I cannot type so excuss the typo!!!

Lori ann said...

Hello C.B.W. ! I am coming over from Angelas place, shes told me wonderful things about your blog, and now I can see why! have been enjoying myself immensely,its charming here!
xx lori

Yolanda said...

I love you shots of your locality a lot. I think I may try to do more shots of the beautiful place I live in the coming year.

Keeper Of All Things said...

I grew up in a fram house that at the time was 150yrs old..
Mice,no screens in the windows, no central air
Not all that glam like!!

Big Hair Envy said...

I love the old homes in my county too. Such personality - and they all face the river:) I bought CB a book about those K&Q historic homes a number of years back. I'll have to pull it out and read up a bit more. I don't believe we have ever had any celebrities in our midst:( Just a bunch of Civil War ghosts...

Speaking of the Ouija board...

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

MPM - Yes, it's possible, definitely. Many is the time when I've landed in either Newport News or Norfolk coming from the North and been able to see the PIankatank River Bridge from the plane, so it is definitely possible. Of course, we aren't the only ones with nice big waterfront homes, so it could have been somewhere south of us too.

BN - I LOVED it. And I know now people don't think too highly of it, devil's toy and all, but given we didn't have a whole lot of other entertainment, I thought it was more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

Cool Breeze - That would be too logical and practical. It's a good idea, though...for someone who practices logic...as opposed to someone who just flies by the seat of her pants every day of her life and has the words "winging it" permanently etched on her forehead. (You let BHE out in a limo with girls recently? You're a very understanding spouse, my hat is off to you. Or was this a return gift for all the hunting passes you've used up? Either way, kudos to you.)

Anonymous - Thank you so much for your investigative work...and the sooner I can legally trespass the better. Just tell me when and where to report, preferably not down at the county's treasurer's office, which is in close proximity to the sheriff's office.....

Lori ann - Thank you for the kind words, and thank you for stopping by.

Yolanda - I encourage you to do so. I never thought I'd have more than a few scenes to shoot around here; little did I know that I could shoot the same scene every day for a year and have something different each and every day.

Keeper - sounds exactly like the house my parents live in next door. The no A/C thing is the pits. The mice you learn to live with.....

BHE - Pull that book out. And then go and trespass on the property and get us some good pictures. Wait. I didn't just encourage you to trespass. No, what I meant was pull up to the gate, place one shoe in the state road and the remainder of your body crouched somewhere in the yard, then take some nice pictures. Not that I've done this, but I understand some people have....of course your foot doesn't have to be in that shoe on the state road, from what I've heard.

Anonymous said...

Sir Ray H. says Tom Sellick was just a rumor and that John and Yoko owned both Popular Grove and Auburn. He also informed me that the New owners of Auburn have added even wings to the already massive home. He did not know of any more celebs in our mist.

Life with Kaishon said...

I love historic homes too. Someone on my favorite weekly thing ABC Wednesday was showing a beautiful one today. Maybe I can go back and find it and send you the link. I think you would like it a lot!

Christen said...

The John owning Poplar Grove urban legend is true. My mom was a teacher in the late 70s in Middlesex, and a dinner for all faculty in Middlesex was held there. John Lennon was only ever there a few times, but he received a tax break from the county for letting public functions be held there. So my parents went to John Lennon's house when he wasn't home!

Anonymous said...

Poplar Grove was at one time owned by the Smith family, who summered down here their entire life.They did indeed sell it to John and Yoko Lennon John was Murdered before he could enjoy Yoko has resold it not in the best shape now Needs historical intervention!
We are very good friends of the family~hence know the details