|'Haunted' Thompson-Reynolds house on 150th anniversary tour list|
|The Press - Features|
|Written by Kelley Lannigan|
|Thursday, 14 July 2011 10:08|
Baker County’s 150th birthday party, planned for September 24, will highlight historic homes and other sites in Macclenny and around the county with riding tours.
According to Sesquicentennial celebration’s chairman Larry Rosenblatt, a committee is working on organizing transportation to take groups around to more than a dozen historical sites, many built more than 100 years ago.
“Maybe a wagon pulled by a tractor or even golf carts for small groups are just some of the ideas we have currently,” Mr. Rosenblatt said.
It’s possible that some of the homes could be open for interior tours, but that will be at the discretion of the owner.
“Some of the outlying sites will probably require a bus and we’re working on that possibility,” he said.Historic house tour sites in Macclenny will include the Burnsed-Brown Blockhouse in the Heritage Park Village on South Lowder Street, the T. M. Dorman House at 212 S. College St., the Rogers-Rhoden House at 327 S. College St., the Hardware Brown House, at 93 N. 5th St., the Blair House at 23 N. 5th Street; Branch Cone House at 108 N. 5th Street; Judge Dowling House at 371 S. College Street; Rowe-Porterfield House at 507 S. 6th Street; J.O. Thompson-Reynolds House at 132 E. Florida Avenue; Crampton-Thompson House at 469 E. Macclenny Avenue; Shuey-Sessions House at Anna Bell Lane off George Hodges Road; Georgia Wolfe House at 407 S. College Street and Griffin-Chase House at 6069 George Hodges Road. The Baker County Press office, which underwent a renovation and restoration in 2005, will also be part of the city tour. Other sites being considered as part of the historic tour are the Garrett School in Baxter, the Barber Plantation near North Lowder Street, the Glen Nursery in Glen St. Mary and Camp Jackson.
The J. O. Thompson-Reynolds House
Located at 132 E. Florida Ave., this Victorian era house was built circa 1883 by a man whose last name was Merritt.
The two-story clapboard house had an attached summer kitchen, porches on three sides and beautiful gingerbread scroll work.
During the late 1880s, it was used as a “fever house” where victims of the yellow fever epidemic were treated.
The home was purchased and remodeled in 1905 by J. O. Thompson, a shopkeeper who operated a store out of the first brick building constructed in Macclenny where the Knabb office building on 5th Street stands today.
The house eventually became rental property and was in great disrepair when purchased in 1981 by William and Sue Krall, who began an extensive remodeling and partial restoration project that lasted for nearly 10 years.
Today, a framed print made from a preserved glass negative of the original house hangs in the parlor and gives visitors a view of the structure as it appeared in its heyday when it was known as a “showplace.”
Mr. Krall taught biology at Baker County High School and often worked on the house in his spare time after classes and on weekends. He was also an antiques dealer, helpful in locating appropriate period furnishings for the finished house.
“When Sue and I bought the house it was about to be condemned,” said Mr. Krall. “It was truly awful. There was so much damage that had been patched over and over again it couldn’t be repaired. I had to tear out sections of walls and start over.
“I had to make some changes to the original floor plan, but everything I did to the house was in keeping with the architecture of the time it was built. The original porches had been removed and I rebuilt them. The bathroom was on the outside back porch of the house exposed to the elements so I created a new one that was enclosed. Original sections of moulding remained around windows and where it had to be replaced, I matched it as close as possible.”
Much of the original “rolled” window glass remains.
At that time, according to Mr. Krall, glass was heated until pliable and workers literally rolled it out flat with a giant rolling pin.
The bannister along one section of the staircase came from a local Baptist Church building when it was remodeled.
He tore out layers of old linoleum and plywood that obscured the beautiful heart of pine flooring and created doorways to improve the flow of traffic.
The original stairs were exposed, so he enclosed them, removing a section of wall containing a door to make the living room larger. When he enclosed the stairs he reused the door from the wall to create a closet.
Closets throughout the house have been lined with cedar.
“When they tore down the old 200 Building at the high school in 1973, I bought the white glass globe light fixtures that had been inside it,” he said. “Those are now in the new kitchen.”
Mr. Krall had one hard, fast rule during the construction.
“When I realized that I’d made the same mistake twice, I’d lay down the hammer. That usually meant I was really tired which meant I was getting stupid and might hurt myself, so I’d quit and come back the next day,” he said.
In addition to its beautiful Victorian features, the house has another intriguing aspect.
Some people believe the house is haunted.
The Kralls lived there from 1991 to about 2000 and over the years, there were a number of spooky happenings. Objects would disappear and then reappear, unexplained.
Once during some of the work, Mr. Krall laid a mallet down on the floor beside one of the doorways. When he came back later to continue working, it had disappeared. Eighteen months later, he walked in one day and there it was, on the floor.
“I built a wooden Noah’s Ark set for Susan once and I set it inside the upstairs closet,” he said. “It promptly disappeared and we didn’t see it again for 10 years. On the day we moved to a new house, I was doing a final check for anything we might be leaving behind. I opened the closet door and there it was. To this day, we have no explanation.”
“I used to hear this very loud, crazy noise inside the house, like a plate glass door falling over and shattering,” said Mr. Krall. “There has never been any explanation for it.”
Other people have commented on feeling a definite spiritual presence in the house and there have been reports of people seeing a figure standing at an upstairs window during a storm when no one was occupying the house.
“Our dog was terrified of one of the porches for months,” said Mr. Krall. “And he used to stand at the foot of the stairs looking up at nothing and barking.”
The Kralls had a friend who once brought over a woman from up north who was visiting Macclenny. When she entered the house, she immediately pointed to the top of the stairs and asked who the children were.
“There weren’t any children in the house at that time, but she declared she had seen the images of two children on the stairs,” said Mr. Krall. “A lot of people died here during the yellow fever epidemic and maybe what she saw were some of those ghosts, I don’t know. I know I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Haunted or not, the house today is a testimony to Baker County history.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 22 December 2011 11:23|