Hooray!!! Morton Hall has decided that spring has sprung! Kelly and I went out this past weekend to “open up the house” aka turn the water on and see if pipes explode or water starts
shooting out a chimney….neither of those events occurred, so Morton Hall apparently agrees with Punxsutawney Phil and has decided that it was a fairly warm winter and spring is now here. Tom (also known as plumber extraordinaire) will NOT be getting the call from me this spring about broken pipes; at least not currently!
2015 was a satisfying year at Morton Hall. We finished all the drywall, plaster, scraping and painting on the “verandah” (aka upper porch) – well, minus the shutters. I am still working on scraping and WD-40ing them so that that all the little slats actually open and close again and then will repaint them and put them back up. This is the slowest part of the entire project.
After several unsuccessful attempts to find a tenant for the rental/apartment, I switched gears and Kelly decorated and set up the back end so that we could list it on AirBnB. I think that is the way to go—we had amazing guests over the eight weeks that it was open and I am looking forward to the new season. Financially, if I booked two or three weekends or so each month from April to November, I would more than cover what I was charging for rent & utilities over the entire year! Plus, no more issues with non-paying deadbeat tenants and I shut the house down for the winter (December to April), so I am not constantly worried about any pipes bursting and having to respond immediately because a tenant is living out there and needs water.
2014 was an expensive year because of the actual structural and rebuild work that had to be done to the double-decker porch, so 2015 was more of a “labor of love” year – heavy on the labor! However, the one splurge we did do last summer was to open the doorway from the middle (brick) section to the patio to increase the “flow” of the house. The door has always actually been there but was boarded up with several layers of windows and did not have stairs or a stoop of any sort. In my head, especially after putting in the patio in 2013 (yes, Kelly still gives me the glare about the patio), that back door and the back door from the grand entry have always opened onto the patio area. LOL…even Kelly agrees that, “it’s always been here!” With the salvaged screen door and the doors open throughout the house (including the French doors onto the verandah….another improvement that looks as if it was always there, thanks to Denny…and one of my few changes to the structure/exterior) it is amazing how breezy the house is – of course, the house was designed to “chimney” back in the day, but with the windows being so fragile or difficult to open, vandals breaking in doors/windows, we’ve just never had the opportunity to work the natural properties of the house. The airflow and traffic flow are now amazing!
So plans for this year (2016) are to have Denny make a few maintenance repairs (shingles etc.), replace the majority of the windows with new, energy-efficient windows that will allow us to open, close and keep bugs and cold air out…woohoo; and hopefully, open up the other rear door onto the patio ( from the grand entry).
We also had yet another tree come down during a storm in 2015, so I will have the tree guys come out, remove all four dead trees and take out the Gingko (I feel terrible taking out such a huge tree, but it is a prolific female and Kelly and I are extremely allergic to the berries that it
drops.) Am thinking that with the number of huge tree stumps that will be left on the property (stump grinding is separate from tree cutting and removal, apparently), that perhaps we should have our own Groundhog Exam each spring…..
Kelly and I plan to scrape, paint and stain the front porch; patch, plaster and paint the middle hallway (brick section), install a permanent pantry and possibly a small party bar in that hallway, clean out the front hallway and get it ready for patching and painting and hopefully finish scraping and painting the verandah shutters and reinstall them. We also will work on moving our “supply closet” from the closet in the game room to the attic room, so that in 2017, we can have a powder room installed.
Last year, with the open door from the middle hallway, we took advantage of the patio. Guests from the apartment would come out the screened in-porch, walk around to the patio and enter from that door. Guests also enjoyed the sunsets and lovely breezes from that direction in the afternoons. We managed to get some awesome patio furniture at one of our auctions and have ordered cushions, so this year, we will have an even more amazing patio space for friends and guests.
It’s funny, sometimes it seems like nothing gets done each year at the hall, but when I look back, I am constantly surprised how much we actually get done with each season and how much closer we are to completion of several long-term projects
and my original hopes and dreams for the property. I realized when we shut the house last year, that I was actually sad; Morton Hall is such a pleasant place to be these days, that it was hard to walk away for a few months; however, closing of the house allows some welcome down time and time to travel, relax and dream dreams of future projects.
If you have time, please come visit this year and take a peek at the changes and upgrades. Come sit on the verandah and sip a mint julep (lol….sheesh…take Kelly on one trip to New Orleans and the bourbon-hating girl is now a convert…I think she has purchased three or four muddlers as a subtle hint!) Now that the house is more “in order” there will be a couple of girls’ weekends and a party or two on the schedule. Hope to you see you soon and happy spring!
What exactly is this Morton Hall?
It’s the house on the eastern shore that I’ve been restoring since 1995. It’s finally at a nice visiting/livable point. You and Marilyn are welcome to come visit. 🙂