Projects – 2008 in Review

I was sitting around trying to think about what we did all year.  It seems like 2008 was a slow year for us as far as the DIY scene was concerned.  In the early part of the year, around March, we spent a lot of time getting construction bids and filling out mountains of paperwork for our construction loan, only for the subprime mortgage crisis to hit and, in the end, we ended up scratching the whole deal.  I had to go back through my pictures to see what exactly we DID accomplish this year.  I was glad to find proof that our year was not wasted.  Here is a pictorial review of our year:


Finished the rent house (Hallelujah!) and took our three year old employee to Chuck-E-Cheese.  Hey, we had to pay her somehow for all that painting she did!

chuck e cheese

employee viv


We celebrated our five year anniversary

anniversary flowers


My birthday!  Ahem….anyway.  In 8 hours, I cleaned, primed and put two coats of paint on the living room walls.  It wouldn’t have taken me 8 hours normally except that I: 1) painted alone; 2) pushed a very heavy 10 foot ladder around the room 8 times while I painted the middle and top of the room …twice! I have 13 feet ceilings.  [is it 13 foot, or 13 feet?]

living room bay

fireplace living room

lr bay

lr fireplace


In April, I redid an ugly 80’s dresser for Vivian’s room and, for storage, we revamped an old shelf my brother made many years ago by adding crown moulding to it and painting it.

Vivian's dresser

old shelf

shelf finished


We took down the ugly drop ceiling in the attic.   We also painted the Master Bedroom.

drop ceiling

master bedroom before

master bedroom in progress


I sanded, repainted and recovered an old chair I bought for $5.00 at a junk store.  I also managed to tick off the entire Ratcliff family and get called a potstirrer.   Hahaha….that’s definitely a new one for me!

old chair

chair finished


I started this blog. Yay!  I pulled a metal tray on wheels out of the garbage and remade it into a plant stand for my porch.  Click here for the details and pictures.  Even my husband could not believe I wanted something this ugly.  But it turned out well.

My new plant stand

My new plant stand


We went to the Philippines.  What a life changing experience!  Click here to see more photos of the trip.  In case you cannot figure out who I am, I am the very white girl in the middle!




Vivian’s Birthday.   Hurricane Gustav hit Cenla.  That was very interesting.  It took us about a month to recover and get all of the debris cleared and everything back to normal.  I can’t complain though, we did not endure anything like New Orleans did.  Click the link above to see pictures of that fun.


Was definitely not a project month.  I was caught up watching the media and reading the news regarding  local and national politics.  I did get a call from the Louisiana Historic Preservation Office in Baton Rouge telling me that they want to put my street on the National Register.  Which reminds me…..I need to give her a call.  That nomination is supposed to be sent to Washington in April.  I am definitely going to help make sure that happens!




I repainted and reappointed the guest room and stripped a fireplace mantel.

Spare room before

Spare room - almost done


We worked on the attic/loft area so we can add another bathroom upstairs.  Steven put up two porch lights in the back.  Steven stripped a door and a transom down to the bare wood.  We also stripped some paint in the hall that was caked on to the wainscoting.  Click here for December’s project pictures.

I guess all in all it was not a bad year.  We did not get as much as we wanted accomplished.  We didn’t nearly come close to the amount of work we did in 2007.  Oh well, put it on the list!  It will get done eventually!


Another Bungalow


Well, if everything goes well, we will be the proud owners of our 3rd house.  Yes, I did say 3rd.  Its ok.  I am used to repeating myself.  Most people think they have heard me wrong.  They just can’t believe that I willingly bought and currently live in a hundred year old house, am a historic preservation nerd, am a bit of an oddity and own three houses in the same area.  Their stares and looks of disbelief do not deter me though.  They don’t have to live my life…I do!  And I am enjoying every minute of it.  To be cookie cutter is boring.  To let society dictate who, what or where I  “should” be, do, buy or live is completely unimaginative.

So, by the end of the month we will own the bungalow directly behind us.  We already own the other one on the other side.  Whew!  That is a whole ‘nother blog right there!  We bought the house we currently live in (you can see from the pictures how much work we had/still have on our plate) and then about four months later bought the bungalow next door.  In order to turn the property around and either sell it or get a renter moved in, we spent nine months gutting, undoing the ugly, painting, cleaning, more gutting… was just awful!  It was like birthing a child.  I will have to start a page for the pics and stories of that redo.

Yup, and we are asking for it again!  The bungalow on the other side of us was foreclosed on and has been abandoned for two years now.  I did a walk through of it and it is not in as bad of shape as our first bungalow.   Two years ago, a man bought it, completely remodeled it, made four payments on it and left.  Pulling back the carpet reveals beautiful hardwood floors and the walls are in great condition.  It has a few missing light fixtures and some windows need to be replaced, but it STILL is in better shape than our first project.

I am hoping to get it fixed up and rented out. I never really did want to become a landlord, but since the house market is shaky right now, I don’t see selling these two houses anytime soon.  Its ok though.  Since they are on either side of my house, I can control who my neighbors are.  The other reason I am not sure about selling is, if these properties for some reason are either defaulted on or the people die and their kids inherit, I might be right back in the same spot I was in when I bought them….empty houses next to me tied up in a legal mess.  So, we will probably just hang on to them.


Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.

Cesar Chavez
American, Activist Quotes
more famous quotes

Old Empty Building To Become Useful Again


Nothing warms my heart more than to see an old historic building being renovated and turned into useful real estate.  Unfortunately, we have many old buildings languishing here in Cenla.  The American Red Cross purchased a building just a couple blocks from my house and will start construction next month to return this building to its former glory.  This is historic preservation in Cenla at its finest moment in many years.  In my book, I think that the opening of the Bentley would be the only thing that could trump this event.  I am excited because it should start breathing life into Bolton Avenue and subsequently the surrounding neighborhoods.  I am here to stay!

Click here to read KALB’s recent story

I received an invitation to the “Wall Breaking” ceremony for this building that will be held on January 13th at 1:30 p.m.  The address of the building is 425 Bolton Avenue.  Persons wishing to attend this historic event are welcome.


Florence Avenue and the National Register

Early this year (January/February), I sent a letter to the Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation exploring the possibility of getting my house on the National Register.  I included the history and pictures of three more large notable houses that are in a row on the same side of my street and also gave a short history blurb on my home.  I understand from several sources that many people before me have tried and failed…but, people who know me well enough know that things like that don’t deter me.  What’s the harm in trying?  I said to myself, “If I get another rejection letter, I will just add it to the pile.”  So, I sent my letter on and waited for a reply. 

I had a lady call me about a week or two after I sent my letter.  She was very excited to get my “preapplication” letter.  I was very excited and was wondering why others have had problems getting this house on the register.  Well, I did not have to wonder for long.  The lady on the phone did not read my letter and thought that my house was the Thompson-Hargis mansion. (I have a post on the Hargis mansion somewhere on here if you want to see a picture of it.)  I quickly explained that the Hargis home was down the street, but my house was the FIRST picture on the front page of the letter.  It seemed that she lost interest in our conversation after that point.  This lady (I am purposely not giving her name), told me that she believed my house was already in a National Register historic district and that I probably don’t need to apply.  I patiently explained that I was not in the National Register historic district, but I was in the local historic designation named Area 3, or the Garden District.  The whole time I was thinking that if she read my letter she would have known this.  She kept on the phone for forty-five more minutes trying to convince me I was in an area I was not, then she looked up the map and realized that I was not in that area, then she put me on hold… get the picture.  She did tell me that I would have to renovate the house and rebuild the turret before they would give my preapplication any serious thought.  To back track a little, I was told by historic minded individuals and also by the LDHP’s website that I must contact LDHP first before doing any renovations or making any modifications to the home so as not to jeopardize any possibility of a future listing on the register. I pointed this out to her.  She said that was not true.  After I hung up with her, I told my husband that the LDHP office must be run by idiots and I totally despaired of ever being able to obtain National Register status.  I told him we would just order our own sign and put it in the yard.

In the meantime, I hired a architect to draw the plans for the turret rebuild.  I already had an interest in restoring the turret, so we found Lestar Martin, a very capable, enthusiastic and historic minded architect.  I found out later that Mr. Martin is on the National Register nominating committee for the State of Louisiana.  Mr. Martin came by and was very positive about our home and the turret rebuild.  He felt that our home did merit National Register status.  His very upbeat attitude and positive comments were very welcome and infectious.  Mr. Martin drew up blueprints to restore the turret and also did a rendering of what our house would look like now after all of our repairs were made.  It is beautiful!  I scanned it in to post on the site here, but the file is too big.  Sorry guys!

Anyway, I said all of this to say, I received a call from Pat Duncan at the LDHP about a week ago.  My file was transferred to her and she read my letter.  She agrees with me that the area my house in is very historic and warrants National Register status.  Although we did not discuss listing my house individually on the National Register, she did say that she is going to nominate the four houses in a row on Florence Avenue as their own separate National Register Historic District!  So, my house would be included in a small historic district.  I would still receive the tax credits and recognition as if I were individually listed on the register.  I am very excited about this!  She is working on the legalities and paperwork and hopes to have the nomination ready to send to Washington, D.C. by the next meeting in April.  Some locals call this area “Mansion Row” or the “West End District”.  The suggestion for the listing on the National Register is the “Florence Avenue Historic District”.  I am very excited!