Humble House originated as a dog-trot, so at its center there’s a wide hall that would have been open to the air in the early days. This hall is now the entry, and a fine one it is.
It’s still difficult to imagine with a wall down the center that once divided the two halves of the home and part of the drop-down ceiling still in place where the bathroom once was. The wainscoting is there, likely from the makeover that took place in the 20s or 30s (more on that later).
Beadboard graces the ceiling, as it does in the parlor. Can you see the chimney peaking through on the right?
Both sides had HVAC running through the ceiling. The left some resident covered the walls and ceiling of what was then the closet with a white paint that peeled badly. Probably because they didn’t sand the varnish on the original beadboard. This is good news for us. The wall will come down and the HVAC unit you see on the left will have a smaller closet to contain it.
Some have said we should rebuild that fireplace on the right, but obviously we can’t block the hallway with it. The entire thing would need to be moved to the parlor.
But what was the hallway like originally? And why would there have been a fireplace in it?
Here you see that the boards that make up the wall between the parlor and hallway weren’t placed closely together, whereas tightly interlocking boards were used in other parts of the house. Crazy, right? I thought it was because originally, the eight-foot hall was open on either side of the house and the interior walls had gaps to allow in air, which would have been great in the summer when the breezes were wanted.
I’ve since learned from Kim Whitley-Gaynor, who also owns a dogtrot house, that the boards have merely shrunk with time. Perhaps these are the oldest boards since they weren’t on the outside and exposed to termites and weather.
In the winter the hall stove provided heat and a place to cook. The rooms on either side were more closed off to the elements so the home’s residents could get a good night’s sleep with the help of plenty of blankets and bed-warmers.
Even more interesting, we found that the front door had not been framed in when the hall was closed off to the elements. A front door was added later by cutting away the studs and inserting the door frame. Prior to the door being added, residents would have gone around to the back of the house to enter.
The same is true of the windows. These were framed in at a later time (to be discussed in a future blog). When it was built, Humble House may have had no windows at all. This indicates an earlier build date prior to the railroad coming to Russellville. Windows were more expensive then and considered a sign of wealth. But again, that’s for another blog.
So here’s how our hallway is shaping up. It feels great when you walk in with the ten foot ceiling overhead, even if half of it currently sports peeling white paint.
Soon the dropped ceiling over what was the bathroom will be gone, along with the center wall that divided the house. We’ll enclose the HVAC you see on the left. The open hall on the right leads to the kitchen, and there’s a window already framed into the new addition that lines up with the entry way. This provides a bright invitation to continue to the family-friendly space at the back of the house.
Ok, so the “family-friendly space” needs some work, but here’s how the entry looks from the kitchen. The future owners will be able to see if someone is at the door while enjoying game night around the dining table. Hello, open concept!
Here’s Bright Eyes singing, Entry Way.