Saturday, August 16, 2008

What I did on my summer vacation

Part 2: The family homestead

This year's visit home was somewhat sad, since Jon's father died last year and his mother is selling the house in which Jon and his six siblings grew up. She has moved to a fancy condo in the suburbs and the house is under contract. Our first day, we went to the old house to help her clear some things out of the basement. I knew it would be the last time we'd ever be inside, so I took a lot of pictures.

The house was commissioned in 1929 by Frank T. Smith who'd made his fortune gambling. He requested a copy of the movie star Norma Shearer's house in Beverly Hills. This house is not quiet and restrained. It does not say Old Money. It's like a pink silk dress in a convent. I wonder what the other residents of LeBrun Rd, in their proper Georgian Colonials, thought of Frank T. Smith, gambler and his wife, whose name was Orchid. Jon's family bought the house in 1968, when Jon was a newborn. It's the only house he remembers.


Side view.

Front door.

Front door detail.

Gutter detail.


What the family called the "ladies' porch."

Across the front hall. All the trim is gumwood, whatever that is.

Hanging around in the empty living room.

Drama Queen reflected. There's a hospital across the street now.

There's a fountain in a small room off the living room.

Dining room.

Jon's father's study, which is where he died.

Floor detail near front door.

Leaded glass upstairs.

Upstairs hall.

The master bath is not much changed since 1929.

I covet this marble dressing table.

These stairs to the basement always worried me when my kids were babies.

Basement. I don't know who covered the bar with the nifty blue mirror.

Fabulous copper sink w/ drainboard behind the bar in the basement. When I told Jon how much I liked it, he laughed and said, "Do you know how many times I pissed in that sink?" (Or how many beer balls they stuffed into it?)

Back stairs.

Kitchen. Jon's parents added this pass through. It sounds like the original cabinets were fabulous. Alas, they were all ripped out.


  1. Whoa, baby - that's some hip pad! I love all the details - windows, woodwork, floors.

  2. Wow, that must be hard to give up.

    My grandparents moved out of their old home last year. I have so many fond memories of summers spent there. I'm really going to miss it.

  3. Wow. Wow. Wow. What an amazing house. Thanks for taking the time to share all the wonderful details that are sadly missing from the standard suburban cookie-cutter homestead.

  4. (low whistle) What a pad! Holy cats! Details like those are so sadly a thing of the past. Sigh. Very beautiful and unique. And I hear you about that stairway!