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Historic renovations

Staff photo by Jebb Johnston

Michael Hogy, who is working on the restoration of two rooms in the Verandah-Curlee House, speaks with supporters of the home -- Barbara Trapp, Rosemary Williams, Nancy Palmer and Bubba Labas -- about the ongoing work.

By Jebb Johnston jjohnston@dailycorinthian.com

Slowly but steadily, the Verandah-Curlee House is getting back to its original grandeur.

Plaster craftsman and brick mason Michael Hogy is currently working on renovating the dining room and will then begin work on the bedroom of the 1857 home. The work follows exterior repairs several years ago and is all being done in keeping with the period of 1857 to 1862.

After working on numerous historic buildings, Hogy feels at home restoring the Curlee House.

"I've been involved in preservation since I was probably 18," he said. "I've always had a love for history."

After becoming bored with new masonry work, he began to focus on older properties and started a business. It was a time when cities were taking a renewed interest in their older buildings.

"Without them, you've got no bearing," he said. "There's no data point for everything else. A lot of communities have lost that identity."

The work on the two rooms at the Curlee House began during the winter.

"Both rooms have had serious problems with the beams underneath the home," said Rosemary Williams, chair of the Siege and Battle of Corinth Commission, the group that manages the house museum. "There was a fire in the dining room in the past causing damage to the hearth and granite surround."

The granite cracked from the heat, and Hogy is restoring the crack and other parts of the fireplace.

In the bedroom, a long beam along the north wall deteriorated over a long period of time, causing part of the plaster wall to pull apart from the foundation. That beam has been replaced and is now ready for Hogy to reconstruct the plaster.

An original closet that had been removed at some point from the bedroom will be replaced.

The challenge with a property such as this, said Hogy, is to stay a step ahead of the issues "and make sure they don't re-happen again. You find that a lot -- restoring the already restored."

And with limited funds, it's like "chasing your tail," he said.

Williams said all of the current project is happening thanks to private funds raised through three events -- the annual home and garden show spearheaded by Mary Dee Kemp, the Christmas open house led by the Little Garden Club, and the derby day party organized by Nancy Palmer, John Orman, Bubba Labas and others. The home and garden tour is taking a hiatus this year but is expected to return next year.

"We have had to wait until we were financially able to begin the interior, and there will be times of stopping and starting again until money is available," said Williams. "We will end this phase in the next few weeks for the summer and possibly have another time lapse until another room can be restored."

For the restoration of the four main rooms, repairs are being made to walls, floors, woodwork and plaster. Rooms will be painted or papered as recommended by the expert designers and paint analyst.

"We have years ahead before we will have the interior completed and furnished," said Williams.

Later, the commission aims to make it possible for families, individuals or groups to assist with the furnishings, fabrics and accessories, with rooms being named for the donors.

The Corinth Area CVB, garden clubs and private donors have supported landscape improvements at the National Historic Landmark, which was built for Hamilton Mask, one of Corinth's founders. The grounds continue to be available for rental for weddings and other events.

Admission to the home has been lowered to $5 during the renovation work. The home is open on Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Stephanie Hutson is the on-site director.

Call 287-9501 for visitation or other inquiries.