Preserving our past to make a transition into the future is an awesome goal. Most people steer away from this challenge. Too much money, too much time., and not having the patience to follow through. In all, just not worth the wear and tear. Fortunately, there are people who are willing to take on the project. I had the great opportunity to meet such a person recently.
John Dilks bought a house in Macon, Mississippi built-in 1850. Indeed it was a grand house in its day, but time and water have not been kind to it. I remember it as a place to house antiques for sale. I loved browsing among the antiques and thinking what a sad state the house had become. In the 1970’s the house was purchased by a Mrs. Taft who undertook its restoration. She did an amazing job considering the state of the house, but Mrs. Taft died ,and the house has sat vacant for the last few years.
A house with no people in it suffers. The gutter at the very top of the house did not work anymore allowing water to fall down on to the left pillar and to run under the house causing rot. The new owner did not know the amount of damage until he began to remove the lead based paint on the outside. His idea is to literally scrape all of the exterior paint down to the wood. That is when he discovered multiple problems. Mounting problems would have been enough for most people to wring their hands and say it cannot be done. However, that is not his intention; he is in it for the long haul.
John Dilks has renovated interiors in the past but never the exterior and certainly not to this extent. The sills underneath the house have all been replaced. The house is not level so the house will be jacked up seven inches with jacks dating from the 1800’s. Water must be diverted downhill away from the house. New porches will be built. Old lumber has been found to replace rotten exterior boards. He has collected marble fireplaces waiting to be placed in the downstairs rooms. He plans to rebuild the cupola which once grandly topped the house. The amount of work to be done is mind-boggling, but fortunately there is a person like John Dilks willing to take on the task. It will be a show stopper when the work is completed.
Other people who take on the daunting task of restoration in Mississippi come to mind. Darryl Hollingsworth has taken on the job of restoring downtown Vicksburg one building at a time. In all he has restored and brought back to life sixteen buildings. I first met Darryl Continue reading “Preserving the Past”