By Brenda Hattie-Longmire
That’s what I like to call my restoration project – a Magnificent Obsession!
Two years ago, I purchased the original home of my great grandparents, James and Eliza (Mitchell) Myers. Built circa 1884, the two-story farmhouse located in Salmon River Bridge was home to the senior Myers and their eleven offspring. This substantial number of children included my grandmother, Plessa (Myers) Wilkinson.
Except for a twenty-five-year period between 1993 and 2018, the house had always been in the possession of Myers descendants.
Therefore, it was not surprising when the house showed up in a 2018 real estate listing, that I jumped at the opportunity to restore it to our family. There was plenty of nostalgia to precipitate this decision. I recalled innumerable visits with my great aunts, Nora and Annie Myers, in this house throughout my childhood and teenage years and with my grandmother, who lived next door.
Having a brother who is a home designer was also a deciding factor. I knew the old house would need significant work. Together, my brother and I prioritized a list of repairs and I began the process of having the house restored. I also decided to apply for heritage status.
A researcher by trade, I had knowledge and resources that helped expedite the application process. These research skills, combined with extensive family records and several photograph albums my family had inherited from our great uncle, Amos Myers, enabled me to gather the necessary documentation to make my case vis-à-vis the value of the house to local history and culture.
I was thrilled when, in August of this year, Council voted unanimously to assign my house heritage status; it is now officially “Myers House.” This designation will help me access funds to complete renovations to the exterior of the house. I’m especially excited to plan for the restoration of the Victorian-styled verandah, a huge part of my Magnificent Obsession.
There is a “Part II” to my obsession: the restoration of the Old Red Barn. This is how our family fondly refers to the familiar old building on the property that hugs the Jeddore shoreline and sits adjacent to the house.
The Barn never sheltered animals but served as a storage unit for the family and for my great Aunt Leah’s café/store/gas bar, located next to it during the 1930s (see photo). Leah, my grandmother’s twin, owned and operated the business until she died in 1936.
Although the barn has not been designated a heritage property, we know from family photographs that it is at least 90 years old.
When I bought the property, the Barn was dilapidated, and the floor had fallen in; it needed immediate attention. Last fall, with the help of my brother and some cousins, we carefully emptied the contents (some of which dated to when my great aunts owned the building) and braced the walls.
This past September, family and friends came together to install a new sub floor in the Barn, and in mid-October, the loft was installed, and the walls were framed up. This little sentinel is now strong and sturdy as we head into cold and blustery winter months.
These projects have been exhilarating and rewarding, not just for me, but for family and friends who have come together to rescue and restore two stalwart structures that have kept watch over the Jeddore shoreline for many decades. My Magnificent Obsession includes lofty dreams of how these two edifices can continue to enhance the beauty and culture of the Eastern Shore for generations to come.