Blog Feed

If I Could Wave a Magic Wand…

Four months ago, my heart stopped for a bit and I got a glimpse of heaven. Ever since that day (September 5th, 2018), I've had a new view on life*, and it's time for me to enjoy whatever remains, because some times, everything can change in the blink of an eye. *...

Built in 1907? It is NOT a Sears House!

Why do all the wrong things go viral? This 1907-built farm house (shown below) is being promoted online as a Sears Kit Home and there's so much wrong with that. And that post - with an accompanying photo - has gone viral on Facebook. Sears didn't offer their first...

Moving To The Chapel?

Two weeks ago, an interesting listing popped up for sale in Bedford County, Virginia. I've always been a fan of Bedford (about four hours west of my home in Suffolk), so I hopped in my little red car and drove out there to investigate. It's my hope that my next home...

What’s Next?

Teddy the Dog turned 10 in late October. I turned an age "greater than 10 years old" this summer. We're both feeling like it's time for a change, but not sure what that change is going to look like. In late August, I had a health issue that consumed three months of my...

My Beautiful Daughter Singing a Beautiful Song

One of my top three favorite people is singing one of my top three favorite songs: "God is Love." I was in Boston recently and got to see my middle daughter and my grandson, and it was a little bit of heaven. I have so many reasons to be proud of her, but one of the...

Teddy’s “Evening Constitutional”!

A few people have asked me why I bought a golf cart. The truth is, it's something I've always wanted, and more importantly, it's something that Teddy wants and needs. Her arthritis is slowing her down quite a bit these days. On our walkies, she's good for about a 1/4...

An Aladdin “Colonial” in Lynchburg!

Years ago, I did a survey of kit homes in Lynchburg but apparently, I missed a couple. Earlier this week, I was in Lynchburg for other reasons, and on my way to an appointment, I made a wrong turn and stumbled upon two beautiful Aladdin kit homes, literally across the...

Spotted in the Wilderness: A Perfect Elsmore

Whilst driving along State Route 501, between Lynchburg and Glasgow, I spotted this Elsmore in Big Island, Virginia. (And why was a town high atop a mountain named "Big Island"?) Nonetheless, this Elsmore is a beauty, and it looks like it stepped right off the pages...

Multitudinous Blessings

It's amazing how something as pedestrian as an old-house website can turn out to be such a catalyst for multitudinous blessings. Through this website (and its accompanying page on Facebook), I have met so many people. With few exceptions, old house people are the...

And Her Name is C-Biscuit…

The Prius C is known as the "Aqua" in Japan, and has consistently been one of the best selling cars in that country. In the United States, sales have not been as strong. Rumors abound that 2018 will be the last year for the Prius C in America, but with gas prices...

Who Doesn’t Love a Story About Ghost Towns?

On May 26th, I'll be giving a talk on Penniman (with lots of new pictures). For a variety of reasons, I'm not sure how much longer I will be living in this area, so if you'd like to hear me give a talk on Penniman, please attend this talk in Williamsburg. And if...

Pink Bathrooms: Extinction Looms

Remember the very first commandment of old house renovation? Thou shalt not destroy good old work. That's it. More than 35% of the garbage at America's landfills is construction-related waste. That's a phenomenal amount of debris. What's worse is this: The replacement...

Boardwalk Empire and Sears Kit Homes

The last few weeks, I've been watching Boardwalk Empire (HBO), set in 1920s Atlantic City. It's centered around the real life story of prohibition-era gangster Enoch Johnson, who's known as Enoch ("Nucky") Thompson on the show. From the start, one of my favorite...

Ladies, Where Are Your Names (and Stories)?

While little is known about the men who worked at Penniman, even less is known about the women of Penniman, and yet, the majority of the workforce at DuPont's 37th munitions plant were women. Loading TNT powder into 75mm and 155mm shells was a nasty bit of business,...

The People of Penniman: Personal Papers?

There's no doubt in my mind that a "Pennimanite" left behind a personal reminiscence or journal or unpublished manuscript or something, telling about his war-time experiences at Penniman, Virginia. The problem is finding these people, and then finding their...

Is That You, Dr. Cottrell?

Last month, Steven Beauter was kind enough to share an incredible vintage photo album with me, which featured more than a dozen pictures from 1918-era Penniman, Virginia, a "ghost city" six miles from Williamsburg. There are several unidentified folks within the pages...

Nope, It’s Not a Sears Magnolia…

In the last 20 years, I've probably received more than 200 emails and inquiries from folks who think they've found a Sears Magnolia. In the last 20 years, I've found four Magnolias as a result of these emails and inquiries. That means that 2% of the time, these...

Pulchritudinous Poquoson and Its Kit Homes

Several months ago, I went looking for a GriefShare group to join, and chose one in Poquoson (Virginia). The primary reason was this: I didn't know anyone in Poquoson, so if I had a panic attack or started crying or acted like a fool, I could surreptitiously slip out...

Penniman: We Have Alleyne’s Last Name!

After that last blog, Milton, Mark and David (three faithful researchers that have been with me since the start of this project) went to work to find Alleyne's last name. This morning, I found an email from Mark Hardin, explaining that he'd found Alleyne.  Her full...

The People of Penniman – We Have Pictures!

Now we just need some names. Thanks to Steven Beauter, a sharp-eyed and devoted historian and lover of history, we have pictures of the people of Penniman. A few years ago, Steven purchased an early 20th century photo album that he'd found on eBay. More recently, he...

Love, Prayers and “Standard Bilt” Sears Homes

Yesterday started out tough but ended up on a lovely note. There were several decisions to make, hard things to do, and then, after breakfast, I discovered a jagged edge on my bottom front tooth. It had been feeling a little odd for about a month, but I'd ignored it....

When Real Estate Photos Make Me Laugh Out Loud…

As someone who spends a fair amount of time looking online at real estate listings and photos, I can tell you, some of these photos are real doozies. My favorite site, for ease of use, is Zillow. There are other websites that I frequent, but many of them are so heavy...

Another “Sears House” Featured on HGTV?

An update! It's not a "Sears kit house," but a Penniman house. Kind of. 😀 And "Sears House" is in quotes, because we all know, 99% of the time (or maybe 100%), these horrible TV shows get it wrong. And they are horrible. One of the first rules of old house ownership...