Down Hwy 31 lives a young man, Nathan B. and he loves history. Alabama history. In fact, he graduated this past August with a degree in history. What sets Nathan apart from other history buffs is his “hobby” so to speak. You see, Nathan acquires homes built in the 1800’s. He meticulously takes them apart, piece by piece, and numbers them. He then takes the piles of boards, bricks, doors and windows back to his land, and puts them back together again.
We drove down the dirt road that was lined with trees until we came to an opening, and there she stood. My first thought was the house that Noah fixed up in the movie The Notebook. The first word that came out of my mouth was “WOW!”Nathan started working on “The Big House” four years ago. When he acquired it, the second level was completely gone due to a fire. The people that owned it didn’t need the extra space so they put a roof on the first level and that was it. That isn’t good enough for Nathan; he wants the old house to be the same today as it was in the early 1800’s. He found more homes from the same period and got the necessary wood to put the second level back on the grand old home.
The home Nathan lives in right now is another one he took apart piece by piece and rebuilt. Every piece of it, the floors, walls, roof and even the brick fireplace and chimney were numbered and rebuilt exactly the way they came off. The bricks for the fireplace and chimney were hand made, and you can see dogs paw prints and chicken tracks on the bricks. They had to be taken apart one by one, completely cleaned and then rebuilt. The home use to be the “summer kitchen” for a much bigger home. It is just two rooms, the “kitchen” which has the fireplace, where all the cooking took place, and the sleeping quarters for the cook. The roof is the original metal roof and Nathan said, “It has more holes in it than Swiss cheese, but doesn’t leak.” The screened porch is actually from another home that was the same size. What a perfect addition and a great place to sit in the morning and have your coffee!
All around “The Little House” are plants that date back to the 1800’s. He has rose bushes that belonged to his Great Aunt, daylilies from 1850 and a three quarter acre garden that has all heirloom vegetables. Now, if he could only figure out how to keep the deer from eating all of his peas!
Not only is Nathan an expert at “antique home building”, as I like to call it, he is also quite the photographer and artist. He showed me photos he has taken with a camera that is over 30 years old. I was impressed with what that camera could still do, then again, maybe it was the person taking the pictures! The paintings Nathan showed me are of old buildings and barns, and there was a story behind each of them.
Nathan is a very talented young man, and I wish him much success in life. When I pass through Alabama on my journey over the next five plus years, I will check in on him and his progress with “The Big House”!
This is my journey…