In “Driving Miss Daisy,” there’s a scene where Hoke is studying family pictures in Miss Daisy’s home and he comments “I just love a house with pictures, Miss Daisy. It do make a house a home.”
When we first moved into 3916 Gosnold Avenue, we went to great lengths to find more about the home’s original owner and builder. Thanks to Norfolk historian David Spriggs (an incredible researcher), he hit the Mother Lode. He found the grandchildren of the original, whom we contacted by mail. They responded almost immediately, and Wayne and I invited them to re-visit their family home.
Ed Barnes and his sister Laura Barnes Chappell brought with them many documents and pictures and stories and it was a bonanza for me, the old house lover – hungry to know more about my very own old house.
We learned that this house was built in 1925 (not 1920 as city records showed) by William Barnes. Mr. Barnes was part owner of Etheridge Lumber Company, located at 1225 Brambleton Avenue in Norfolk. According to local lore, every piece of framing lumber in this house was personally inspected by Mr. Barnes. It’s a story that rings true: The lumber in this house is truly extraordinary.
Mr. Barnes built this house for his dear wife, who became ill while the house was under construction. He is said to have told her, “I’m building you that beautiful house you’ve always dreamed about.”
She died six months after moving in the house, and her wake was held in the living room.
The house remained in the Barnes’ family until 1971. William Barnes bequeathed it to his son, and he remained here at the house until his death. The Barnes’ family sold the house in 1971, and then it went through a myriad of owners. We bought the house in Spring 2007.
And it’s time for the house to bless and shelter and protect another family. It’s time for me and Wayne to move on and start a new chapter in our life, and we’ve put our old house up for sale. I thought it’d be fun to share a little bit of what I learned, and show a few of the photos that tell the story of our home.
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