In the last post, we were leaving the 1836 addition of the Albertus Ledbetter house, walking across the now enclosed dogtrot into the original house built by Jonathan Ledbetter in 1826 on his daddy’s plantation. My tour is given by the owners of Spring House Farm, Zee and Arthur Campbell, who restored the home in 2000.
“Jonathan Ledbetter had a lot of irons in the fire.” Primarily, he was a planter with 740 acres and eleven children but that involved being a politician and preacher, the local postmaster, and a slave owner. In his spare time he made export whiskey on the property. The copper pitcher in the photo on the right is a half gallon legal measure for dispensing whiskey prior to the War Between the States. Albertus was a Confederate soldier, and speculation is that whiskey was sold for profit to support the Confederate funding effort.
A unique feature to the antebellum home is the faux graining artwork done in 1836 by a traveling artist Charles Dunkin who signed the inside of the closet door underneath the stairs. The staircase railing is hand painted, and a leather combing device was used to make squiggly decorative lines. On the panels of faux graining, a brown glaze was used with a horsehair brush to make swirls and simulate fancy wood like a teak or mahogany. Red and blue were also used. Arthur suggests pokeberry was used for the liberal use of red, but perhaps some of the dyes came from Charleston. The popular shade in that day was called Pompeii Red. Napoleon liked it, and celebrities’ opinions have always engendered fashion.
In the original structure, the decor is more folksy, with traditional wainscoting. Besides the ghost in the upstairs, there is a feature that arouses curiosity. A hole in the front wall. The neighbor Mr. McCurry said that in his childhood he was afraid to come over here because an old man sat in the corner and spoke to the dead!
We have to investigate that mystery.
Of course the original kitchen was out back on the other side of the creek because of the danger of fire. In 1921, the siding from the 1826 end was removed and a kitchen was added plus a back porch for firewood. The Campbells replaced the original turn of the century beadboard with tongue and groove paneling milled from timber off their property, just like Ledbetters did in 1826. (The Campbells put a bathroom in this area also.)
A small log building sits near this porch, a curing house, where the Ledbetters left their meats curing in salt. This may have been the second building on the farm. The timbers now have white areas, especially on the first three logs all around the bottom of the structure. Some of the logs are worn away due to weather, but mostly the bottom log is licked away because animals have come for more than a hundred years to get their salt fix. The top log still has the bark on it. And the door has remnants of a beautiful Pompeii Red.
The bricks were made on the property, many different colors. First they made a mold, made the bricks and stacked them in a large circle, and a huge bonfire was built inside that circle. The closer the brick to the fire the darker it became.
In 2004, the Campbells moved a house to their property to be used as a rental cottage. It was the Calloway Harris house built in 1835. Details on its transformation are described on their website as a two-story Appalachian cabin with view. http://www.springhousefarm.com
One of my favorite quotes from Arthur was his response to my comment about thousands of decisions to make in restoring a home according to the regulations for the National Historic Register. “I would wonder how Jonathan did something or why did Jonathan do something in that way. It still happens. I’ll walk around the buildings or the house and, snap fingers, that’s the reason he did that. The house will talk to you in certain ways. I’ll see a bullet hole I hadn’t seen before. It really does have its own personality and its own life. It’s alive.”
Of course they share the house with a spirit, but you can come to stay awhile also. http://www.springhousefarm.com