September 19, 2003

Well test

I know this may sound silly, but one of my concerns about moving to the farm was the water. In L.A., we import our water from other states – getting it from your own property seemed, somehow, wrong. Plus my L.A. water is constantly tested – it’s unhealthy and foul tasting, of course, but at least I know why.

Fortunately we found the UL Drinkwell program and, while I don’t want to sound like a commercial, they cost less than a third of what others charge, test for a full range of contaminants, are very convenient, and you really should use them. 🙂 Seriously, we got our results back today and everything is fine. The water is a little hard but, again, in L.A. the water qualifies as igneous rock, so it’s not an issue.

September 4, 2003

Forgotten Seasons

We met Dale and Suzanne of Forgotten Seasons B&B. They had referred one of the contractors, so we just wanted to thank them and maybe talk about the business a little. We ended up staying four hours–it turns out their house is older than ours, and Dale knew a lot about Speedwell Forge!

Their house used to be the Huber Tavern, built by Jacob Huber c.1730 (although you couldn’t tell from the outside because some idiot had covered it in permastone in the 70’s, and you can’t take that stuff off without destroying the stone underneath). Jacob Huber also built Elizabeth Furnace, which is now the Coleman-Stiegel Mansion. Robert Coleman was the son-in-law of James Old, who built Speedwell Forge! (And we later learned James Old bought the land from Jacob Huber.) It was a giant jigsaw puzzle and Dale laid it all out for us. (Well, for me at least; Dawn could care less about history. As I told the contractor yesterday, Dawn wants to restore the house to c. 1975, which is how she remembers it.)

They are both wonderful people, which of course makes us even more enthusiastic about renovating the house and opening a B&B.

September 3, 2003

Doug Dinsmore

About fifteen years ago, Dawn’s parents sold several hundred acres to the county, which created Speedwell Forge Park. They left it “natural” (ie. undeveloped) but last month Doug Dinsmore of Skelly & Loy contacted us because they were “inventorying” the history of Speedwell Forge. Talk about serendipity – here I am starting to do research, and here someone else is already doing it! We met with Doug today but didn’t take him inside the mansion, because we didn’t want him to see its current shape. We will have to rectify that someday.

Beginning

September 2, 2003: Beginning

We met with two contractors, and I feel like a complete ingrate. In my defense, I am a Southern California native, and we’re not known for historic sensitivity. Also, Dawn told me we’d be restoring the place before I even saw it, so whenever I visited I just saw the problems and the costs. It took two strangers to point out the elegance and beauty of the mansion. I had resigned myself to it without ever appreciating it!

So this project has taken on a renewed vigor, as we now have a better idea of what we’re preserving. Unfortunately, we also now have a better idea of how much it will cost. We’ve got a year before we want to start, so we’ll figure it out.