honestly, a wren’s nest in the mailbox is nothing new, nothing special to any one place though it is marvelous. We’ve almost always had wren’s nesting in our mailbox in jackson (ever since dad built this one at least—that note is to the mailman to please use the alternate mailbox) but we didn’t go and name a dang house after the phenomenon!
The Wren’s Nest IS special. I managed to drag B over there a few weeks ago on a Saturday and we got stuck listening to some storytelling. Stuck is relative, i loved it. When it was done, however, we were hungry and I opted to come back another time and “observe the interior of the house”, my real purpose. Joel Chandler Harris moved to this farmhouse in West End, Georgia, back in 1881. He’d married in 1873 and had a young family which he’d recently uprooted from Savannah in an attempt to escape the yellow fever. He was an author and journalist then, though the Brer Rabbit stories wouldn’t come til the late 1890s. The property then was 5 acres of “country” land, called a “snap bean farm” he would renovate the small Folk Victorian house in 1884/85 to become the Eastlake-style Victorian delight that it is today.
While i listened, interested obviously, to my tour guide, i was jotting notes on the interior design and furnishings. The intricate, usually floral Victorian wallpaper throughout, particularly the Art Nouveau sample in the living room, picture molding, wallpapered ceilings, floor cloths, a mismatched chair at the dining room table, beadboard wainscoting, the oak, late 1800’s golden oak furniture everywhere and the oak woodwork in the house was gorgeous. I have a new favorite. It made me sad that the girls at Sunshine found the golden oak dining room set hideously out-of-date in the 30s and demanded their papa replace it. I wish i knew what it looked like! Yes, I could live comfortably among the busy patterns and dark woodwork of Joel Chandler Harris’s house while reading up on all his books in the reading room or on his front porch. What a lovely life that would be.
now, if you’ve been following any of my links you may have noticed how much fun it is to read about the Wren’s Nest house museum on their website and blog, it might be due to the fact that their young(er than me??) Executive Director is of the Professional Organization of English Majors and also great-great-great grandson of Harris himself. Anyway, i recommend reading, visiting, and participating!