Saturday, July 12, 2014

Rewiring Hallway Lamps

Lights being rewired. Ording family light to right.

When our electrical contractor told us that the fixtures in the hall were not salvageable because of their old wiring, that left us heartbroken. One of our reasons for purchasing the house to begin with were the beautiful historic lamps.

After a bit of research on the Internet we discovered that rewiring lamps could be done fairly easily and inexpensively. Several trips were made to State Electric Supply Company. There we were able to get the wiring, new sockets, and wire nuts. It took a bit of experimentation to get everything just right.

We had an opportunity to incorporate a family heirloom in to our new lighting scheme. In the guest bathroom where we removed a drop ceiling, this made a perfect place for a drop pendant light. This was the first electric light from the Ording farmstead in Williamson just outside of Lansing. It was passed on to us by our Grandma Mary Kremer years ago. She wanted to make sure the person who received the lamp would put it to good use. And that we did.

Deed Research on our House

Deed research provides one of the most valuable insights in to the history of a house. Understanding that, we undertook this research shortly after buying the house. Once the names of the previous owners of the house are known, it is possible to conduct additional research. Knowing the owners and the approximate time the property was transferred also provides insight in to when changes were made over time.

First we'll share the chain of title we found, then we'll begin to tell the story of the house we began putting together.

 Chain of Title for George Washington Pridemore House


Michael Blackard & Lisa M. Noftsger        
Isaac & Chrissy Kremer

Edwin D. & Jane C. Woodson 
Jack & Opal   Blackard     

Oppie B. Johnson, widow                            
Ellen G. Woodson

G.W. & Ida M. Pridemore                            
Oppie B. & Edward Johnson

J.T. & Maggie Smith                                       
G.W. & Ida M. Pridemore
Kentucky Investment Company               
J.T. Smith

Middlesboro Town & Land Company
Kentucky Investment Company
Middlesboro Town Lands Company 
Middlesboro Town & Land Co

George Washington and Ida Mae Pridemore were the first to acquire and build the home. They owned the home for about a decade before transferring title to Oppie B. and Edward Johnson on September 15, 1936. Ten days later the Middlesboro Daily News noted how “Mr. and Mrs. E.L. Johnson are having the G.W. Pridemore home on North Twenty-fifth street, which they recently purchased, remodeled.”[1]

Edward Lee Johnson died May 14, 1944, and was buried at the Middlesboro Cemetery.[2] Following Johnson’s death, his daughter Francis J. Johnson received an undivided half interest in the property.[3] She promptly transferred her interest in the property to her mother Oppie B. Johnson for $1 on June 5, 1944. Oppie B. Johnson sold the property to Ellen G. Woodson and Dr. E.D. Woodson on May 29, 1946 for $12,500. Oppie Johnson died on May 4, 1966 in Knoxville. 

Edwin Woodson was an Optometrist in Middlesboro since 1933. His office was at 1924 Cumberland Ave just off of Fountain Square where Mikel's Pharmacy is located today. Ellen Woodson was a devout member of First Presbyterian Church where she was a Sunday School teacher.  She was active in the Women of the Church organization.[4] The Middlesboro Daily News shed light on an important event that occurred at the house on October 20, 1950. That evening at 8pm, Ellen Farra Woodson married Thomas Edward Shipley. A portrait of Woodson in her bridal dress and a full description of the ceremony ran in The Middlesboro Daily News  several months later on December 16, 1950.

Edwin’s wife Ellen passed away April 29, 1969 at the Middlesboro Hospital and Clinic after a brief illness.[5] She was subsequently buried in the Pleasant Grove Cemetery in Washington County, Kentucky. Some time between April 1969 and March 1971, Edwin married Jane C. Woodson.[6] The house was sold on March 24, 1971 to Jack Lee Blackard and Opal Fox Blackard.

Jack and Opal Blackard were originally from the Ozarks in Arkansas. They had three children: Mitchell K., Michael and Lisa. In the 1960s the family moved from Oxford, Mississippi to Middlesboro. Opal was a mother, homemaker, and worked at Sammons Communication. She volunteered at the Bell County Senior Citizen Center and participated in church activities at First Baptist Church. For over 40 years she was a loyal choir member, active deacon, and served on several committees. She also served as an active member of the Cumberland Park Garden Club, serving in multiple leadership roles. Opal was a lifetime member of the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority.[7]

Following the death of Jack Blackard, his wife Opal acquired the interest of her husband by virtue of survivorship. Her son Mitchell King Blackard died January 31, 2010, at Middlesboro Appalachian Regional Hospital at the age of 43. Opal Fox Blackard died on June 2, 2012, at the Middlesboro Appalachian Regional Hospital. She was 78 years old. Michael Blackard and Lisa Michelle Noftsger acquired their interest by Will of Opal Fox Blackard, recorded June 20, 2012, Will Book 22, page 671.

That brings us up to the present time when we purchased the house on April 29, 2013. 

[1] “Locals,” The Middlesboro Daily News, September 25, 1936.
[3] as record in an Affadavit of Descent (Deed book 129, page 500)
[4] “Deaths and Funerals,” The Middlesboro Daily News, April 30, 1969.
[6] “Obituaries,” Middlesboro Daily News, April 16, 1976.

Friday, July 4, 2014

How could they have covered this up?
One of our greatest discoveries yet was finding this tiger wood mantel. All that it required was about twenty hours over a week or two removing the paint. Then we covered the wood with three coats of polyurethane. The results are remarkable. For the fireplace portion we removed the 1950s insert that had been a gift to the previous owner from our neighbor Lee. While an interesting period piece we did not feel comfortable lighting it up again.

When trying to figure out what to put in the fireplace space we discovered the original coal/wood cradle that fit perfectly with the existing surround. Chrissy taped everything around the surround with several layers of painters tape. Then she used a black spray paint for use on metal to refinish the surround. The results really pop compared to what was there before.

We've already done a fair amount of wall work getting things smooth, level, and painted. With a  bit of patching on the wall and stripping of the moldings and door surrounds this room should really pop.