A Change of Season

Halloween at the Neebor Lee House in 2015.

Fall is here, which means that the 2015 construction season is just about over. It seemed to have gone by very fast, and I had not accomplished as much as I had planned. Apparently the to-do list that I compiled at the end of last winter was a bit too ambitious. In addition, life managed to get in the way. Between running up to my New Jersey home on weekends early in the summer to complete repairs needed to facilitate the sale of that home, preparing the Neebor Lee for my oldest son’s September backyard wedding, and dealing with a foot injury late in the summer, several items on my list remained undone. But that’s okay. No need to rush. I always anticipated that the work on the Neebor Lee to be a well-paced marathon requiring years to complete rather than a sprint.

That doesn’t mean that there were no accomplishments this summer. There actually were quite a few. They included:

  •  Installation of new roofs on four of the property’s buildings. It began in February with new roofs installed on the Lodge and the Servant House, both of which were leaking. This was followed in the summer with a new roof on the Main House and a new roof on the Barn.  The lower first floor roof of the Main House was also given a new coat of fiberglass-reinforced silver paint. Because the “Barn”, which is a large shed located in the rear yard, was the smallest of the buildings needing a roof, I took on that project myself.  I left the others to professionals. The roof installations were the largest expenditures that we incurred this year, totally roughly $30K in labor and materials.
  • Masonry work to repair the entrance to the basement of the Lodge, which was followed by the installation of bulkhead doors to secure that entrance.
  • Re-wiring of the electric in the Lodge’s basement and replacement of the  basement’s old, rusted fluorescent light fixtures with LED lights.
  • Construction of new doors for the Barn, which had been missing doors since the day we moved in.
  • Closing of openings into the Main House to prevent further incursions by squirrels.  This required some patience since at least two litters of baby squirrels were born in the ceiling above our family room in the Spring and early Fall. Although the pitter-patter of little squirrel feet above our heads was quite annoying, I couldn’t close the openings until the babies were old enough to leave the nest. The act of closing the openings did result in a monumental battle between human and squirrel.  I lost the opening salvo in the Spring when the squirrels chewed through the wire mesh I installed to block the primary opening’s entrance. The little buggers also chewed through coaxial cables located near the mesh that were providing me with television reception. The second battle, which occurred in the Fall, was won by humans, as I replaced the metal mesh with aluminum flashing that I quickly painted white in order to conceal the former opening. I’m not quite ready, however, for a victory lap. One lesson learned from these activities is that squirrels are highly persistent animals and they may not quite be done yet in their attempts to regain entrance into the house.
  • With my coaxial cables chewed, I determined that it was a good time to “cut the cord” with with my cable television provider. Thus, I installed a high definition antenna on the roof for local broadcasts, re-ran a new coaxial cable a good distance away from the squirrels’ former den entrance and turned to streaming services for other television.
  • Installation of a bell within a small bell tower that exists over the rear entrance of the Main House.  We did not know the purpose of this little Federalist-style structure until we came across an old photo that showed that it originally housed a bell.  Once we discovered this, I purchased an appropriately-sized bell, constructed a new mount at the top of the little bell tower, and installed the bell. Now, once grandchildren come along (hopefully soon, now that my oldest son is married and my second son is engaged), we will have a way to summon those little ones for dinner on days when they are playing in the yard.
A 1968 photo showing a bell in a little tower constructed on the roof above the rear entrance of the Main House.
Photograph in 2015 showing the new bell that was installed in the tower.

So, then, what on my to-do list was not completed this summer. They largely included two projects:

  • Repointing the stone walls outside and inside the Servant House.
  • Scraping and re-painting the exterior walls of the Lodge.

These two activities are precursors to major interior renovations that are to be later performed in both buildings. These interior renovations, however, are now not likely to occur until until after other activities of higher priority are implemented.  One of these higher priority activities is the renovation of the Workshop building, which is located behind the Lodge. That structure in great need of repair and if it is not done soon I fear that we could lose that building altogether.

In the meantime, we’ll hunker down this winter and focus on aesthetic renovations within the interior of the Main House. This will include the removal of old wallpaper and repair and repainting of certain walls. I had ordered a wallpaper steamer that is due to arrive via UPS tomorrow. Thus, these interior renovations will begin next weekend.



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