Friday, November 16, 2012

A Cable Staff House in Heart's Content

This past Thursday I had the chance to visit with Ed and Minnie--long-time residents of Heart's Content. They reside in a historic home in the heritage district where they have lived since 1968. They purchased this two storey Anglo-American style home to have more space for their family.  It was in this same year that the cable company began shutting down its operation and the employees started leaving the community. Ed and Minnie have been the only owners of this house that have not been affiliated with Western Union. The house was originally built in 1882 as a staff house for company workers and previous to Ed and Minnie's ownership, it was the company superintendent who resided here. Ed and Minnie have kept many of its original features, such as the mantels for the two fireplaces, and the wooden banister that takes you to the spacious second level. The ceilings also have lovely moldings that are only ever in historic homes. Ed showed me other houses around town that once resembled their home, but have seen drastic alterations, such as the top story being removed. Indeed it is a community that has seen a great deal of change over the years, which is something that Ed and Minnie both talked about with me.
Ed and Minnie in their lovely home.

Ed and Minnie's place in Heart's Content--an Anglo-American style house built 1882, with a large beech tree in the front yard.

On a tour of the house, Ed showed me a very old icebox that he found in the shed out back when they moved in. He explained that these types of boxes were used to keep food cold before there was refrigeration. While restoring and adapting it to make this china cabinet, he found that the heavy wooden doors were insulated with horse hair. This piece was made in New York and brought to Newfoundland. Minnie mentioned that it is Ed's favorite piece of furniture in the house.

Ed shows me his refurbished icebox. Note the thick, insulating door where the horse hair is. 

Another shot of Ed during our oral history interview (along with Minnie's hand as she views a map of Heart's Content.)
Ed and Minnie were wonderful people to visit--they both had many thoughts and memories to share. I learned about some of the buildings in the district, what community life was like in the past compared to now, and what they believe the community will be like in the future. The information they provided will be of great importance when we do some district mapping to highlight what makes this place unique. As they age, the house is getting to be a lot of work to maintain. They suspect that they will eventually have to move on, a reality for so many older people living in rural Newfoundland. We all hope that this heritage building continues to be cared for as the future unfolds.


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