You remember when Jeanie Beard was here? About two years ago, she put on a program for the Civic group. She's head of the Isis Center over in Silver Spring. When she came to the front door she said the first thing she saw, the first thing that struck her, were three spirits on the stairway. Needless to say I was already getting packed to leave. But she said not to worry about it because if they put up with you this long, they evidently like you, or they would really make it rough for you.
But strange things do happen here occasionally. Rose and I were sitting up in the living room one night about two months ago. The dog has this little rubber elephant she plays with all the time. Rose was sitting on the couch. I was sitting on the chair. Both of us were reading. The dog was laying over in the far corner sleeping, and this elephant was lying right below the coffee table. Nobody else was in the room. Cats were out. All at once this elephant just took off. It went from the living room, just like somebody had thrown it, clean out through the hallway, and bounced off the dining room wall. Of course it startled us. Various little things like that.
Seem to have the strangest things happen up in the third floor, those bedroom areas where the kids sleep. Things fall off the dresser. Pick 'em up, and put 'em back on, and ten minutes later they're back on the floor again. It's really strange. But as far as the ghosts riding around the house on horses, I haven't seen nothing like that. Course, I haven't looked too often either. Little strange things like that, nothing really to scare you.
Summer interns and one full landscaping crew stayed here about a year before the county remodeled this place. I guess they had a rough time of it really. Mr. Queary, the foreman who was staying here, was using the library as a bedroom. The interns were staying in the basement where the big stone fireplace in located. Well I understood that the interns after a while wouldn't stay here, it spooked them too bad. Also, I guess these spirits or ghosts, whatever they may be, really gave Mr. Queary a hard time, because he finally had to give it up. He couldn't stay here any longer. I don't really know. But they swore up and down it was true.
Well, the whole area was an encampment, in defense of Washington. I found about a half dozen Miné balls in the woods. As a matter of fact, I found one right out here in the back yard. You know the southern ridge? We hunted over there one day at Kingsbrooke. We came across an old Civil War camp site; where they had the fire, the ashes from the fire and pieces of the old terra cota beer bottles. Underground, buried of course.
When they put the new sewer line out back, they dug down about, oh, anywhere from 6 to 8 feet. In the colonial days, of course, everybody had a trash pit. They'd fill it up and cover it over and dig another one. We came upon an old trash pit out here; dug right through it, and got quite a few pieces of the old china; the white with the blue painting on it.
I ran into an old lady at a wedding here one day, and as soon as she walked in here, she knew the place was familiar. She looked around and told me she used to come down here as a girl. Senator La Follette from Wisconsin owned this house at one time, but he never lived here; he just played around with it. This lady's Aunt and Uncle lived here as caretakers, and she was telling me all about the place as she remembered it. Of course it was just this center part standing then. But there was a large kitchen built on the back here, a one story house.
Structurally the center part of the building's got the original foundation; it's twenty-seven inches thick and made out of hand made brick and clamshell mortar. Then of course it does have the original floor joists in the basement. They're about 2 1/2 inches wide and a full 8 inches in length. We noticed when we had this place torn apart during the remodeling on the 2nd floor there are steel H beams every four foot going across the 2nd floor to help strengthen it. The old part of the house is pretty cock-eyed because of settlement and so forth. They used the original wall studding on the house but they also reinforced it with new studding in the walls.
In 1949, a spark from the flue set the roof on fire and burnt quite a portion of the roof off. When we had a ceiling spot off on the third floor, patching ceilings and so forth, I could see that there had been same new rafters put in. I knew at that time, of course, that there was a fire, but I had no confirmation of it until one Sunday, a fire captain from Alexandria came out here. He told me that the roof had burned in 1949.
When we first moved here, before they built the houses down at the bottom of the hill, there was deer here almost every night. And of course when they built the houses dawn here I guess it chased the deer down into the Huntley Meadows area. But I just saw some deer droppings about a month ago, in the snow at the playground one morning, so evidently there might be one or two strays come up here occasionally. I do know they cross South Kings Highway.
We do have a fox here that comes up at night. I haven't seen him since fall. But last summer he was coming up every night as soon as it would get dark. He would come right up in the back yard here, up to the back porch, waIk across, go down around and circle the playground, come back up out. He'd go over around and circle the tennis courts. Then he'd go down to the pavilion and snoop around there a little bit and down on in the woods. Every night it was the same path. I got him on the light a couple of times; he'd just stand there looking at me.
Probably the biggest problem they had with the whole place (Stoneybrooke), is the fire they had at the courthouse in the 1800's. Destroyed all the records. That's why they couldn't get a historic landmark for this building. They were pretty close to it, but they just couldn't quite Come up with enough because the records were destroyed.