Monday, October 26, 2009

Tour of the Samuel Reed Home - Part II

The Interior
(Click on images to enlarge.)

The front doors are original and have original locks and keys.  These “box locks” are very significant to the dating of this house. They were very prominent in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

Of the two original keys, one locks the outer doors, and the other locks the inside doors.  The hinged key on the left, also very old and rare, is for an outbuilding.

Hinges stamped "T & C Clarks Patent" are found on the interior and exterior doors.

As you walk in the front door, the staircase rises to the right. The wide heart pine boards of the floors, the heart cypress walls and ceilings (seamless), stairs, banisters, and finials in the hallway are all original.

In the closet under the stairs, you can see the original, unfinished cedar walls and shelves.
Chet showed where newspaper had been used to line the walls, and to this day, there remains a scrap of the Augusta Chronicle with a date of 1815.
Repairs were required to some of the doors where rodents had tried to find food.  Chet left this one on the hall closet door as an example (above). 

On the right of the entry is a dining room that was once apparently a parlor. There was originally only one door into this room. Chet has added a door (from the period) into the new kitchen at the back of the house. Beside that door is an original window, complete with working shutters, looking into the den.

On the left of the entry is a sitting room. The floor in this room is not original due to the significant wear on the original floor. Obviously, this was the room where most of the living was done. Chet wanted to refinish it as the others but was advised not to do so. There were so many worn places in the floor from decades of use, sanding it down would produce some very thin, shaky boards. The new wood was laid perpendicular to the old for added stability.

The finials on the stairs are quite impressive. Chet told us about seeing how such things were made at Colonial Williamsburg on lathes. Sticks of wood were turned on a human powered lathe – an arrangement of wheels and pulleys reminiscent of a bicycle. The carpenter craftsman used various sized and shaped sharp gouging instruments against the turning piece of wood to make the design.

The light fixture hanging in the upstairs hallway is from First Baptist Church of Blackville (initially known as Blackville Baptist). Chet was able to obtain several of these fixtures when the church was being remodeled. They have special significance in that this house was the first meeting place Blackville Baptist Church.

Chet told about a 19-inch heart cypress board in the upstairs hall. “In order to get a 19-inch heart cypress board, the tree had to be 300 to 400 years old and was probably older than that since it was virgin timber that was cut. If you assume the tree was at least 300 years old when cut, then that makes it a young sapling tree growing in the swamp when Columbus founded America in 1492 (since the house was constructed around 1790).”

On the left is another very wide cypress board used for attic access.  On the right, the original cypress wainscoting upstairs was too beautiful to paint.

The new, roomy back porch is inviting. This area was particularly damaged, so new windows and doors were installed. The siding on the back is all new, cedar on the porch and cypress on the upstairs siding.

Some of you know enough about me to be aware that I am rarely at a loss for words. Well, have a good look now, for this is the case! I feel my writing skills failing me as I try to find the right words to express my appreciation to Chet and Cindy Matthews for the time they took to show Ian and me all the details on this remarkable house.

Chet and Cindy, you have my deepest appreciation for providing a day that Ian and I will never forget and for allowing me to share it with the world. It was quite a day – from the first greeting to the best BLT I think I’ve ever had.

On behalf of all of the descendants of Samuel and Mary Clark Reed, I thank you for the love and care you have bestowed on this house and for your willingness to share it with us.


  1. You have done an incredible job detailing this visit in words and pictures. I can only imagine how exciting it must have been to visit this home in person. I feel you fortunate that someone like Chet Matthews has gone to the effort and expense of preserving this fantastic house. Do you happen to know how many square feet of living space this home has?

  2. Thank you, Henry! It was a very exciting day, to say the least. I don't know about the square feet, but I'll ask and let you know.

  3. Okay, Henry, here's the scoop directly from Chet Matthews:

    "Not sure exactly….approximately 1450 sq ft downstairs….and around 700 upstairs…..for a total of 2150….

    I excluded the stairs since it is not living space…..

    The four main rooms are 18 x 18… that equals 324 in each room… the hall and the kitchen….den….and utility room

    The outside dimension of the house is 47 ft. across the front and 32 feet deep for downstairs….and 47 x 18 upstairs………"

    Chet also told me that the T&C Clarks Patent hinges are on the interior and exterior doors, not the shutters as I had stated in the article. The shutter hinges were made by the blacksmith. I have corrected that in the post text.

  4. Having been in a ten year battle to restore a family home which was built about the same time - circa 1790, I truly appreciate and understand all the love that has gone into this project, as well as the time and effort and family history which has been provided with this blog. My cousin told me that I had to read this blog because I would truly appreciate what had been done with it. She's right. Hope you keep up with the research.
    Carolyn Blue