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Showing posts from September, 2009

Harry Fenn Studio

I already told you about the image of Fenn's studio on the third floor of the House. I've finally scanned it. The original was in a bad resolution, but it will give you an idea where we are going with this.

Here is the room today:



And here is what we are trying to get back to:



Not sure if you can see the top of the turret through the image of the old window. That is now the terrace on the top photo. So, the plan is to restore the windows in their original location. But, since the reconstruction of the turret would cost a small fortune, we will instead remove a part of the existing mansard (left corner of the top photo) and make it look like the original turret from the street level. And we'll keep the terrace. So, win-win as far as kids are concerned, since they love this terrace. Depending on the cost, we might also replace the little window on the illustration left to match the original and the new/old windows to the terrace.

First Drawings Are Done!

Yesterday afternoon we had a meeting with our architect, Mark Wright of Wright and Robinson, and he presented us with the first set of drawings. He was 10 minutes late and we were sitting at the edge of our sofa wondering where he was, that's how excited we were. And it paid off. He brought the drawings of how the House used to look, the existing condition, and the most creative ways to marry the two.

I have to admit that we were worried how everything is going to look, and if we are going to like the solutions he offered. It is a natural fear of someone who has never owned a home before and never worked with an architect. Well, I am happy to report that our fears were brushed aside almost immediately. Mark showed us his ideas, and they were almost identical to what we thought we might like. Also, he opened our eyes to the possibilities of very small, inexpensive changes and how they can transform the House.

Considering the expense (always the expense), we have to settle for the &qu…

Random search of The New York Public Library

At the suggestion of our architect, I did a search of the New York Public Library records and discovered 47 entries for various things. 7 were not related to Harry Fenn. Other 40, however, were his works and biographies. Which is 39 more than the entire Essex and Bergen County library systems combined. Apparently, he was very popular with poets. Among others, he illustrated Lord Alfred Tennyson's books. Another, even more important, fact is that Fenn's biography was included in a book called "Reconstruction era: biographies," by Roger Matuz. What is interesting is not that Fenn is included, but that he is included along, to name a few: Louisa May Alcott, Susan B. Anthony, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, etc. Now it's just a matter of finding time to go there and read through all of these.

I also did a search through a quarterly that was popular at that time, called The Century, as it was mentioned in The Montclair Times. Cornell University Library has all the vol…

Microfilm at the Montclair Public Library

Today, I decided it was time to start going through the microfiche files at the Montclair Public Library. This was one of those spur of the moment decisions, as I know it will probably take me days, if not weeks to find what I am looking for. By that measure, today was a relative success, since I managed to go through the entire 1885 (the year) and found three mentions of the Fenns, two of which had a reference to a "fine" and "picturesque" residence of Mr. Fenn. All of these were written after September 1885, so I will need to go back and look more closely at the earlier months of the year for the announcement that the House has been occupied.

Also, it does seem that at that time it was quite common to sell a house separately from a lot it is sitting on, and the house would be moved to a desired new location. Fascinating!

Wordless Wednesday!

Readers, meet Mr. Fenn. Mr. Fenn, the readers. This is a portrait in watercolor done by Lawrence C. Earle. For more details on the artist, click on the image. The painting is housed at the Montclair Art Museum.


The Contracts Are In!

The landscaping is scheduled for mid-October. Very excited. After this weekend's very traumatic experience, we decided to install deer fencing as well.

We were having breakfast and our 2-year-old excitedly pointed through the window at our backyard and said: "Deer." The boys went through a series of oh's and ah's, and then it got quiet. Suddenly, my husband started waving me over: "I think she is giving birth. You have to see this." Having been through two labors of my own, I wasn't particularly interested, but then I realized it was a wrong time of the year. Looking closer, I saw a set of very young antlers and what my husband thought was a fawn, were in fact this young buck's insides. The skin on his belly was torn and trailing between his hind legs, and his intestines were dripping blood.

My first reaction was to scream, but I didn't want to scare the poor animal or my children, because I wanted them to have a better and healthier relations…

Another Small Step

We just replaced the Hall light with this magnificent crystal piece. While we were looking at the sparkle and light breaking through the facets of the crystals, we were wondering why did we live with the "classically modern, faux art glass, hand painted cobblestone finish" monstrosity that was hanging from the ceiling for the last year. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a bad chandelier, but it was so inappropriate for this House, that it was such an eyesore for us. How much of an eyesore, we didn't know until now. Kids love looking at it, like anything shiny, I guess, and are still talking about the electrician bringing this magical thing into their lives.

A Really, Really Small Steps

I took a little vacation over the last week. Didn't go anywhere, fortunately, as traveling would probably annoy me more than the "vacation" would relax me. But, simply took a vacation from thinking and writing about the House.

In the mean time, the long awaited light fixtures have arrived and have been installed. Well, at least some of them. While not completely historically accurate, they are better than what was here to begin with, so we are happy with the progress.



Our thanks to Mike DeFuria from Halo Electrical Contractors for coming on such a short notice.

Happy Labor Day To All!

Very happy to report that the landscaping work has been booked and we should be starting with clearing of the backyard in a few weeks. Right now it looks like the Wild West and we are afraid to even go there, being that it has now become a habitat of: 1 groundhog family, 2 rabbit families which are fast becoming 10 families, at least 2-3 fawns and does, 1 million mosquitoes and countless other species of bugs we have never seen in our lives, 4 recognizable species of birds (species that we recognize), squirrels, field mice, etc. This is a photo from a week ago...