Well.... now after 9 thirty yard dumpsters and six months later.... yes 9 dumpsters, we can finally walk around and plan the renovation. To say this property has been overwhelming is probably a gross understatement. I tried to go through the place in a careful and thoughtful way, so that I can return any family photos, trunks and other mementos to the previous owner. A daunting task of sorting through a hording nightmare, that I will never, ever do again.
It seemed pretty easy at first. After it took us a week to get through one room, I had to take a break. That is how it went for pretty much the last 6 months. At first I was excited and it was interesting, then it became a huge chore and terribly time consuming. I had help, but even they got burned out.
I don't think there is any other explanation needed as to why the place sat vacant for the last 30 odd years. I can't even imagine having to go through this stuff if it belonged to my family. I would probably have a nervous breakdown.
The weather is getting nicer. The sun is starting to shine, like usual, in Montana, and once again, after lots of deep breaths and a little insanity for even buying this mansion, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Many of you have mentioned the beautiful backyard of the Jenks Mansion. Here are a few current photos I took. There is a lot of work to restore the fountain, the little stream and the wading pool. It is quite a set up. I am just getting my feet wet (pardon the pun) with respect of how to thoughtfully go about this. The backyard is truly an inspiration for someone who likes to garden. I am excited to finally have the proper season to begin.
While cleaning out the old mansion I came across the vintage photos above. I am still convinced that the front porch had a handrail and balusters around it, but I cannot locate a really early photo yet. I would imagine these photos are from the 1940's or maybe the 1950's. The chairs in the photo are still chained to the front porch. They are really fabulous!
I could hardly wait for the purple flowers of the heirloom Muscari Armeniacum (Purple Hyacinth) to come up at the iconic Jenks Mansion. I fretted a bit, as I thought that perhaps we were trampolining the perennial purple bulbs, when we tore the roof coverings (there were 4 or 5) off to replace with new.
For a bit more than twenty years I have always made a point every spring to drive by the Jenks mansion to see them in bloom. Every year they multiply. I would venture to say it is somewhat of a miracle, without any tender loving care, these little beauties have managed to survive. Perhaps this is why this heirloom bulb has been around since 1877.
Days like these, being able to admire such simple blooms, are what life is all about.
Kelly Parks is the Mansion Girl, restoring historic homes in Great Falls, Montana. Some girls collect shoes, Kelly collects historic Mansions.
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