100 Year Old House Made into Modern Home (the Fred Rogers home)

April 30, 1939, Mary B. Fox, The Daily News Journal

Ancient Timbers find new use in Fred Rogers Home

Out of the morticed and pegged timbers of a tumble-down, 100-year-old house is emerging the modern, new farm home of Mr. & Mrs. Fred Rogers on the Bradyville Pike.

Mr. Rogers, a farmer by both inheritance and college training, is building the home himself, with the aid of his father, S.T. Rogers, and help from two of the farm hands “in their spare time.” Plans, he said, were drawn “on the backs of envelopes and any handy piece of paper” as they took shape in the minds of the owners.

Cost is Low

The total cost, not counting labor, he estimated at $1,500

“A farmer,” said Mr. Rogers, “has to know something about everything and carpentering is one of them.” So, with a few tools which he had “picked up around the place,” he and his father set about building.

They began with the tenant house which they found on the 58-acre farm which Mr. Rogers recently purchased from his father. It was the old Crass Place, part of which was built in 1870 by Morris Crass, a native of Germany. Crass bought the place from LeGrand H. Carney. To the front part of the house so old that no one remembered how old, he added a two-room structure, separated by a sort of ‘dog trot’.

Material Still Good

After the dilapidated timbers had been removed it was found that the framing was of cedar and yellow poplar, too substantial to discard. Much of it was morticed and pegged, and the rest put together with square nails.

The back part of the house was ‘pulled up’ to the front, allowing a space that includes the ha;;, breakfast nook and bathroom. The exterior is stuccoed white, with red composition roofing.

The interior now provides a living room, front bedroom, large bedroom adjoining, dining room, the hall breakfast room and bath, the kitchen and the family sitting room.

The walls are covered with felt and paper, overlapping the ceiling which is covered with canvas. They will be finihsed with attractively designed papering.

Little Shop Material

Dorr and window frames and mantels are the only commercially finished work in the house. The rest is hand cut and planed by the builders.

in tearing up the old house, Mr. Rogers and his father found three layers of floors in two of the rooms. Over the older boarding they will put hardwood floors for the 1939 version. The living room will have bookshelves on each side of the brick mantel.

Mrs. Rogers Helped

Not that she sat by and just watched, however. While the men folk were busy with hammer and plane, she was busy with the needle. Curtains of tan ozenburg with brown ball fringe, and slips coverings of the safe for the living room furniture, scatter rugs and crocheted bedspreads and table clothes are ready for using.

In fact, the interior decorating is all done in the homemaker’s mind. The big wing chair with a lamp and table behind, the early American settee and other pieces are placed in the living room. The front bedroom which she calls “mother’s room. Mrs. H.E. Cranford makes her home with her daughter, is all done in green with dainty curtains and other details.

Early American furniture is in the dining room.

The kitchen is to be hung with pretty curtains and equipped with as many modern conveniences as the budget will allow. Later built-in cabinets and maybe complete electric gadgets are to be installed.

The water supply is to be from an electric pump. Electric current is supplied by the Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation lines.

Being farm folk, you couldn’t expect that the Rogers would spend all their time planning and building the interior. Just how the place will “look from the road,” or the field, and making it attractive and livable outside has been figured into the budget.

“This side is the prettiest,” said Mrs. Rogers, pointing across a little pile of brick and discarded timbers to a comfortable porch, shaded by the ashwood and cedars. Already she has planted flower beds, some of them outlined with rocks, on this side.

“All My life I’ve wanted a house with blue shutters,” she said, “and now I’m going to have it.”

The blue shutters aren’t up yet and the concrete front stoop isn’t finished, but they are in the making. There is to be a cobblestone stoop at the back, and back of that – a rock garden.

Nature gave the place a spring and already there is outlined around around it a pool, which is to be beautified by lilies and plants. Also, nature was generous with the ashwood trees – a fact which furnished more than just shade.

They gave to the place it’s inviting, pretty name – ‘Ashwood’ – the house that was built by the hands of its owner.

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