Another interesting aspect of moving through the fire restoration process (which at this point means the demolition, but that seems like such a scary word) has been the secrets we have discovered underneath floors and behind walls. We ran a series of three “Skeleton and Secrets” tours to show visitors some of these discoveries, teach them about the house’s architectural features, and to talk about the fire restoration process.
This has also been one way that we have been able to remain positive through the selective demolition of the house; we have learned SO much about the house! We always knew that the Whaleys had purchased a two-story, square, Italianate house and that they extensively remodeled it, but we didn’t know exactly what that meant. Now, however, we can see in the floors and walls where they added on the various alcoves and bays. We can also say with certainty, that the original house ended at what is now the music room and library. The Whaleys added on the dining room and kitchen on the first floor, as well as the maid’s quarters. The story of the house, then, becomes that much richer. We can see in the types of wood used where the McFarlan Home made alterations and then where those involved with the museum in its infancy changed it back. The house itself is as much a living, changing, dynamic entity as the family legacy preserved in the museum’s name. Whereas before the house seemed like an old and honorable place to keep artifacts, memories, and stories, it now stands as a great artifact and story in and of itself! Its bones, its skeleton if you will, can tell the stories of 150 years and, with our careful work, it will continue to accumulate stories.
In addition to the items noted above, here are a few more things we found out about the house as the walls, floors, and ceilings were removed.