Thursday, August 25, 2005

And A Good Time Was Had By All

The party was a great success. The final head count was little more than 20 guests. The first 4 or 5 people that showed up were some of the few who had never been to my house before, so that was nice because I got to spend some extra time with them. Again, these are all old house fanatics and well versed in all things old house. Their questions and observations are intelligent and insightful, and they don’t ask many stupid questions.

I burned a CD with about 100 images from the past 3 years of projects and then ran a slide show with the DVD player in the front parlor. I used the same 100 or so images and ran another slide-show with the laptop on the Museum of Petch table in the dining room.

The “party” is really a regular gathering of people and it is somewhat organized. The first hour and a half or so is mingling, drinking and then a pot-luck dinner. After that there is a formal meeting where people talk about different things that are going on in the city, recent finds at antique stores, salvage yards etc. Someone may be looking for a specific piece of hardware they need, so that is brought up. There is a small group that is working on the restoration of a 1906 Fire House in town, so that gets talked about. One of the attendees is a member of the City Council and 2 others are on the Historic Preservation Commission, so politics inevitably comes up. After that it is turned over to the host (That’s me!) and the host can talk about their house, recent projects, or maybe some sort of history lesson involving some aspect of turn of the century living. I, of course, chose to talk about my house.

During the mingling part of the evening I think the stove and the dumb-waiter style door were the biggest attractions. The Frankenstein Hutch had a lot of interest as well. The whole kitchen, even in it’s unfinished state, was a big topic of conversation. Not one person, for one second, ever hinted that they were even the slightest bit inclined to comment on the things that came out less than perfect. It was a big relief. I assumed I would have endless questions about why the plaster didn’t look perfect, or why the floor wasn’t better. They either didn’t notice or chose not to comment. I’m not sure which.

I was hoping that the meeting would be held in the dining room because of all the work I had done on paint stripping, and it’s close proximity to the new kitchen, and the Museum of Petch table was set up in there. The room is kind of small for that size of crowd, though. I assumed we would end up in the parlors. With the dynamics of a crowd fueled by wine and food you never can tell were they will end up. As it turned out everyone naturally gravitated towards dining room and it was very full. When it came time for me to speak it was as if I was talking to a packed house.

I positioned myself behind The Museum of Petch table and I was able to use a lot of items on the table in my discussion. I started out talking about the article in Restore & Preserve. Everyone had read it and I got a little round of applause. I told them how that all came about. I then talked about the history of the Petch Family, which led into how Phyllis Petch turned the house in to a boarding house, which led to the apartment conversion, which led to the projects I had completed on turning it back in to a single family home. I had a lot of fun. Normally I can go on endlessly about the house anyway, but when I have an audience that is really in to it, and after I’ve had a few glasses of wine, I can really get in to it. One woman at the end of the night told me she was on the edge of her seat through out the discussion.

I spoke for maybe 45 minutes to an hour and was interrupted frequently for questions and comments. Just really a lot of fun. After that it was time for a tour of the house. Just as everyone was about to get up I got their attention one last time and told them about the fortuitous timing of one of the 1926 apartments being available for viewing. Everyone really loved that. Immediately they all got up and moved enmasse towards the backdoor to see the apartment. I had to shout once more to get their attention because I had not unlocked the door to the building or the apartment yet. I also didn’t want everyone to go up at once because I didn’t want to disturb the other tenant. She works early in the morning. I told everyone to give me a minute to open up the building and then perhaps 5 or 6 people could go up at a time. When I came back to the house after opening up the apartment there were 6 people lined up at the back door like six little kids waiting to get on a ride a Disneyland. It was hilarious.

I had every light in the house turned on and with all those big Victorian windows on every wall the house must have looked like it was lit up like a Christmas tree from the outside. All the guests swarmed all over the house, in the walk-up attic, and in the 1926 apartment. I sort of flowed all over the place answering as many questions as I could and pointing out some of the more subtle details. One of the hot-spots was the little trunk room that I call “The Vault”. That is where I have stashed a lot of vintage lighting, antique tile, old door hardware, and other old house goodies. It was always shoulder-to-shoulder in there. After about 20 minutes of this the whole thing begins to wind down quickly. By 10:30 the house is empty and it is quite once again. I’m still amped though. I don’t think I went to bed until after midnight and even then I didn’t sleep well. The whole thing was really a lot of fun.


Amanda said...

Greg -- Congratulations. That sounds like a fantastic party.

Anonymous said...

Stupid questions?? Sheesh!

SmilingJudy said...

Sounds great, Greg! Glad you had such a good time with it.

Jocelyn said...

That is awesome. You should be proud and I am so glad it turned out well.

You are inspiring me to get to the Historical Society and get my hands on the original drawings for our place. We were examining our building this morning and we determoned that there used to be a wrap around front porch on the building. It must have been wood and who knows? It might have been lovely...sigh!

End result: I want those plans! This winter, it's a MUST.

jm@houseinprogress said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE the Museum of Petch concept. If I'm ever out your way, I want a tour! So happy for you about your party...

Kristin said...

I wish I could've been there. Sounds like a blast! You're making me want to host a party at my house. :)

Greg said...

Thanks for the comments. Yes, the party was a lot of fun and I encourage everyone to have one.

And, of course, all HouseBloggers are always welcome for a personal tour of my house and the city. If you are ever in the area to hesitate to get in touch with me.