American Dream

We're renovating, exploring style and design with a dash of cocktail making and cooking thrown in. 

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We bought a house and this is it! We’re sharing the outside today and some history. Check back in the coming weeks for the first through third floor. This is our dream home, no doubt. I grew up in a military family and we moved around a lot, so we lived in military housing. Military housing is pretty bland, it all looks the same with really cheap builders grade finishes. You can’t even paint the walls to personalize it. For young designer Susan, this was an issue for me. I lived in a sea of non-offensive beige. When I was in the 5th grade my dad retired and we moved to the burbs in Maryland. My parents bought a house and my sister and I each had our own room. The suburban Maryland neighborhood was exotic to me, each house was a different shade of nature influenced brown and blues, and even better, the houses were different in their design and landscaping. But most importantly my mom said we could paint our rooms whatever color we wanted. Naturally, I made the tasteful decision to paint my room teal with light pink trim. I was a tween, and this was my personal style statement to the world (that and my Guess jeans).

When we started looking for a house, it was SO important for it to have character. A voice of it’s own with a very apparent architectural style. Living in Savannah, Georgia influenced my taste in architecture in a way no other place I lived. There is a romantic quality about the souring Victorian homes of the south. They’re like a lady dressed in her finest gown, with her best jewelry on. The details of the southern Victorians are endless: beautiful plaster moldings, high ceilings and doors that you could make an entrance through. Our house delivered on everything. It’s dramatic and spacious for entertaining because of the large scale of the rooms, plus it’s full of details.

For us to find a home that we both truly loved was a tall order. I told William: I want you to gasp a little when you walk in. There was only one house that made us gasp and it was this one. This is our home, we’ll restore it for the rest of our lives. We’re care givers in a long line of owners and we feel responsible for it’s upkeep.

House History

Not only is this home beautiful, it has an incredible past. The house was built in the early to mid(?) 1800s by a man named Louis Sutton. He had a sportsman’s hotel in the 1850s. We don’t know exactly what year the house was built, but think 1840s makes sense because of the Greek Revival style. Maybe some digging in the town archives will produce some more facts. After Mr. Sutton, Charles Backman bought the property in 1864 and purchased the surrounding 700 acres. He established an amazing trotting horse farm business and entertained  guests at the mansion. Some of the most notable guests were Jay Gould, William Whitney, Commodore Vanderbilt and former President Ulysses S. Grant. We read that Mr. Backman was a wonderful entertainer and we fully intend to carry on that tradition. After Charles Backman died in 1899, the farm was purchased by Howard Ford, a director at the U.S. Rubber Company. In the 1950s, the house and farm was broken up. Parts of the house were removed and the land was parceled off. There is a horse farm next door to us that still has the Stony Ford name, and there is another house close to us that has part of the original billiards room in it. As you can see from the engraving of the house in 1860 compared to today, the home has been modified over the years. The floors are uneven because of the modifications to the foundation, and before we purchased the house we had to call in a structural engineer to make sure it’s sound. There are some items we’re going to restore, like the second story porch which is critical to Greek revival architectural style and the black shutters are a classic as well. I think those are somewhere in the basement! We’ll also have to add a garage sometime soon, since I hear the snow is a little crazy out here in the country.

We have a legacy of entertaining to carry on at the Stony Ford Estate. We can’t wait to bring the property back to it’s original grander. We’ll have some more history on the house, especially about the fabulous previous owners.

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