Friday, December 31, 2010

Day Trip of the Month: Midway, KY

While back in my Kentucky stomping ground for the Holidays, we visited Midway, KY and I thought it would be the perfect town to highlight for my 'Day Trip' series! Midway is a small village of a town that mushroomed around the construction of the railroad starting in the 1830s. The town derives its name from being situated roughly halfway between Frankfort and Lexington.

In 1915, a fire destroyed a large portion of Railroad Street, however, the town of Midway rebounded and continued to thrive, especially throughout the early twentieth century when nearly 30 trains passed through the community on a daily basis. Like many small towns founded with the coming of the railroad, train traffic and growth declined from the mid-twentieth century onward in Midway as the automobile trumped all other forms of transportation. However, Midway experienced a rebirth starting in the mid-1970s as new antique shops, restaurants and art galleries located in the once-empty storefronts.

 Today Midway is a quaint bustling community surrounded by horse farms and enjoys a steady stream of tourists and locals alike who frequent its restaurants and shops. A variety of cafes, lunch spots, and upscale bistros make Midway a popular destination for good eats. Some of my favorites include Quirk Cafe, Wallace Station, and Holly Hill Inn. 

Midway features Victorian storefronts, 1920s Colonial Revival commercial buildings and even early Greek Revival and Federal-inspired residential architecture. During the 1970s several buildings making up a historic district were nominated to and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

These two windows appear as if they are part of two separate buildings,
but were once part of the same brick structure, evidenced by the identical
brick dentil cornices, arched window openings and corbelled brick lintels.
The portion of the building on the left has merely been painted to resemble a
separate building. Unfortunately, both of these window openings are missing
their original sash and have been filled with incompatible replacement windows.

Midway always impresses and inspires me with its charm and judicious preservation efforts, and I always enjoy checking out the new antique stores and shops that have opened up since my last visit. I highly recommend adding Midway to your 'Day Trip' list! 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Winter Drive in the Heart of the Bluegrass

One of my favorite places for beautiful scenery (especially when it's snowing!) is in the bluegrass region of Kentucky. Rolling farmland, dry stone fencing, historic horse barns and stately homes provide breathtaking views. We stopped in Woodford County to take photos of some of our favorite scenic vistas:

Pisgah Presbyterian Church is one of my favorite in tact historic churches with a well-preserved historic cemetery. The church was founded in 1784, an academy established in 1787 with the primary Gothic Revival church building constructed in 1812 and remodeled in 1868.  Stained glass windows were installed around the turn of the century. One of the most striking things about this historic church to me is that the scenic setting surrounding the property has also been preserved, providing a more accurate sense of its historic context.

Pisgah Presbyterian Church, c. 1812, 1868

Pisgah Presbyterian Church Cemetery

I'd love to hear about some winter wonderlands that are special to you! Please feel free to leave a comment! 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to You!

Restoring the Roost wishes you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

We used this photo for our Christmas card for 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chicken Update: Chamomile is laying!!

Thought I'd update everyone with some news from the poultry pen: Cammi is FINALLY laying! Yay!!! Her eggs are a lighter, pinky brown color and are easy to distinguish from her sister's eggs which are a darker tan color with speckles.

Rosemary is doing fine and is usually the sweeter of the two, and Mr. Rue is, well....a horndog. Literally every morning when they come out of their coop he tries to jump one of the ladies (they both try to escape him if they can). I usually push him off and DO NOT allow him to mount the hens in my presence. However, I do admit I love having him around because he is HILARIOUS.

Mr. Rue strutting around

For those of you that have chickens but don't have a roo--reconsider getting one if you don't mind the crowing in the morning! Mr. Rue has the funniest reactions to things and the interaction between him and the hens is very amusing. He's also good for protecting the hens from danger. I've seen him on multiple occasions sound alarms when predators are near and become very distressed when he can't seem to find one of his girls. When free-ranging he will also find food for the girls and call them over to indulge in the goodies. Mr. Rue is very sweet and watches while the ladies eat first.

They LOVE to play on our back patio, and last weekend we heard them hopping up and down the stairs to the back door. We opened the door and there they were....curious little things sneaking a peak inside.

Just in case you were wondering, no, we did NOT let them in!

Mr. Rue is giving us one of his looks....(not the "stink eye" this time, yay!)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Decor 2010: Using Natural Materials

This Christmas I am all about simplifying, and I thought one way I could work toward this goal was to limit my Holiday decor to natural materials, everyday items I already had around the house, and a few items recycled from past Christmases (a great way to stay within a budget!).  Decorating with materials from or inspired by nature is VERY easy and affordable, and I encourage you to try it in your own home.

In the previous post I featured my dining room mantel and I promised this week I would showcase my living room fireplace mantel. Here are the results:

I used clippings of leftover evergreen from our fresh Christmas tree, vases filled with limes
and some cuttings from outside, a couple of candles and the living room mantel was DONE! 

I found these adorable burlap stockings on Etsy (my favorite place for unique handmade goods)
from "The Pinecone Teacup"

In addition to the mantels, here are some other pics of festive yet simple decorations elsewhere around the house:

I filled a cakestand with pine cones gathered from my yard for a simple dining table topper

A couple of vintage Holiday prints with a vintage pitcher and Holiday mugs
add some Christmas cheer to my kitchen

I'd love to know how you decorated your "roost" for Christmas this year!  If you have suggestions for incorporating nature into Holiday decor or keeping things simple, please leave a comment and share with us your wisdom!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dining Room Christmas Mantel

One of my favorite things about Christmas is putting up Holiday decorations to put me in a festive spirit. I love using fresh evergreen, pine cones, winter shrubs ripe with berries, and other natural materials that don't cost much yet are beautiful in their simplicity.

My husband and I got to thinking of changes we could make this Christmas to avoid being swept up in the over-commercialization, hectic schedules and stress. Our goal is to focus more on meaningful family traditions and worshiping the birth of our Savior. I confess we have not been very successful so far but one of the ways I thought could be a good start was to limit my Holiday decor to natural materials, everyday items I already had in my house, plus a few things from Christmases past.

This is how my dining room mantel turned out:

For this mantel I decided to showcase some pieces from my collection of brown transferware. Most of these dishes are stored in a sideboard when not in use, but I love now that I can enjoy them on display!

Next I filled the various vessels and bowls with evergreen snipped from the leftovers of our fresh cut tree, fresh wreaths and some pine cones gathered from our yard. A few final touches with some gold sparkly twigs and a cute birdie and the dining room mantel is done! I think this mantel cost me only around $8.00 total by using what I already had.

Visit my blog next week to see my living room mantel! In the meantime, I encourage you to slow down and take time to enjoy the Holiday festivities that are memorable and meaningful.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Island Farm: Part II

In my previous post I introduced you to Island Farm, a mid-nineteenth century living history farmstead on Roanoke Island, NC. I recently went back to visit Island Farm after preparing a historic furnishings plan for the site last year.  What a wonderful sight to see everything all put together! The staff at Outer Banks Conservationists and the historical interpreters at Island Farm have done a fabulous job implementing the furnishings plan, adding to it, and bringing Island Farm to life for public interaction.

Here are a few photos that we took from our recent visit:

servant's/traveler's room

north parlor

south parlor

master bedroom

master bedroom
During the summer months the bedrooms as well as the north parlor will be "summerized," meaning the furniture will be slipcovered, gauzy white linens draped over mirrors and pictures, and beds will be shrouded in mosquito netting.  

north parlor



enslaved cook's quarters in loft above kitchen

Notice the placement of the period appropriate furnishings: they are pushed up against the walls of the room unless they are in use. The furnishings are also highly mobile and can be moved about rather than stationed in place. For example, the dining table would have often been moved out onto the porch for a cooler, more enjoyable meal during the summer months. Household goods were largely chosen to reflect not only the interpretive period, but also the family's socioeconomic status, region, climate, ethnicity, and the isolated island culture that prevailed along the Outer Banks at the time. Most of the items owned by the Etheridge family were purely utilitarian--very few were decorative or extravagant. The furnishings plan was supported with primary and secondary source documentation, archaeological findings, will and probate records, family documents and oral histories. 

I have tons more photos that show the interiors of the other outbuildings but not enough room to post all of them here! If you are interested in learning more about or visiting Island Farm visit 

On Dec. 11, Island Farm will host visitors on a guided candlelight tour representing an 1850s Southern Christmas. Gather around a bonfire while muskets are fired to ring in the season. Warm yourself by a crackling fire as you sip a cup of hot wassail, and learn how Christmas traditions began. The farmhouse will be decorated for the holidays with flickering wax candles illuminating the Christmas tree. Carolers will sing Yuletide favorites and costumed interpreters will present vignettes of island life, including the perspective of those who were enslaved.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Island Farm: Part I

Have you ever wanted to experience life in the mid-19th century as it really was? I mean, truly experience it? You can at a coastal living history farm on Roanoke Island: feel what it's like to spend time in the restored farmhouse (without air-conditioning) during the humid summer of North Carolina, touch the furniture and linens, feel the breezes through the open windows, smell the herbs drying from the ceiling of the detached kitchen while the historic interpreters cook over the hearth (and then sample the fruits of their labor), and of course, play with the farm animals! 

 Last year I enjoyed working on a consulting project preparing a historic furnishings plan for Island Farm.  Island Farm is the site of the Etheridge Homeplace, on which stands a two-story heavy timber-frame farmhouse built between 1845 and 1852. Also are a number of reconstructed outbuildings: a kitchen, smokehouse, slave quarters, dairy, privy, corn crib, barn and chicken house, and a livestock barn. Each building is fully functional and used daily by the historical interpreters that operate the farm and live according to the mid-19th century period. The furnishings report was a first for me, as I am more familiar with preparing architectural histories. But I must say, it was SO much fun and I would love to do it again someday.

Slave Quarters

Stay tuned for Part II to see photos of the completed farmhouse and outbuildings fully furnished! 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

RIP Marge

One of my chickens, Marjoram, aka "Marge" was tragically attacked and killed by a bird of prey this past week. We came home from work and after searching for about an hour finally found her remains that were half-eaten in our yard. Poor Mr. Rue suffered some minor wounds and is missing a chunk of his tail feathers from defending the rest of the girls. I was so upset....even though you would never think one can get attached to a chicken, when they become your pets, you definitely can. I think the guilt I felt for letting them out to free-range that day was the most overwhelming part of it. I guess it's the price we pay, for they are happiest and healthiest when out free-ranging. The worst part is that I think the other three chickens have been traumatized by the experience and are still very scared. Everyone told us it was bound to happen and to expect it, but I guess I never thought it would happen to me.
Marge is in the foreground, eating out of my hand

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Murphey School: Before & After

One of my consulting projects involved preparing a National Register nomination for the Murphey School, which was being rehabilitated while utilizing historic preservation tax credits.  The Classical Revival style school with Spanish Revival influences dates to 1923 with a 1936 auditorium addition and also possesses a rare surviving Teacherage at the rear of the school, along with a well house and original water tower.  This past summer the work was completed and seeing Murphey School restored back to its original splendor was extremely rewarding!




Teacherage: Before

Teacherage: After

Auditorium Interior: Before

Auditorium Interior: After

Classroom Interior: Before

Classroom Interior: After

To learn more about Murphey School, you can access read the National Register Nomination by accessing it from the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office website: