Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Mehama History

Yesterday, Lisa asked me to scan an old photo of the old house. Besides wanting to preserve the old photo, we also wanted to take a picture of the house from the same angle to compare the changes.

This photo of the old "Stout House" is undated, and our first estimate of its age was the early 1900s. However, we have another photo (I'll upload it later) that is dated 1911 that shows another building to the right of this one and that is sufficiently weathered that we revised the date of this photo to be earlier. Lisa's father volunteered that one of the family relations had a photography studio, including doing glass-plate photography. That meant we could revise the date of this photo into the 1800s, which also seems to more closely match the clothes of the people in it.

The old man sitting in the middle is Lisa's great-great grandfather, the man who homesteaded this land and built the house. (We know him from a pencil portrait hanging in the house.) We do not know who the women are here, but there's a pretty good chance that one of them is one of Lisa's great-grandmothers.

I ran off a draft-quality print of the picture on my printer, went over to the old house, and tried to match the angle. It's challenging because there's a building (the Mehama Community Church) in just about the spot I needed to stand. Try as I might, I could not find any angle that matched the old house. The main thing was that the angle of the roof and chimney wouldn't match.

Lisa came and looked at the photo as well. After puzzling over it for a minute, she had a brainstorm and turned the paper over. It matched very well. The print was mirror-flopped! It isn't obvious because there was nothing in writing or otherwise out of place, but it's the only way the picture fits reality. I went back and mirrored the scan using Paint Shop Pro and that is what I've posted above.

This morning before going to work I tried taking a photo, but when I looked at it later, I saw that there was so much glare from the rising sun that it was unusable. After lunch, with the sun overhead and not reflecting directly off the front of the house, and after several tries, I got the relatively close match above

It is of course difficult to make out much detail because there's been so much growth around the house. I mentioned to Lisa how taken I was by how little growth there was around the old photo. She said that her g'g'grandfather settled here when it was virgin forest, cleared all of the trees (I think the house is built from lumber milled from the wood thus cut), and let the sun shine in, at which point the temperate rain forest started reasserting itself.

At the far left in the newer photo is Lisa's trailer, which is my home when I'm here in Mehama. If there were not trees blocking the view, you would be able to see an additional outbuilding (the "summer kitchen") that was added to the building sometime after 1911.

The most significant difference (besides the trees) is the loss of the upper-floor "sleeping porch." Not visible in the old photo is a ladder built into the roof just below the chimney, presumably to make it easier to clean the chimney. The lower floor also used to have a wooden porch that went clear around the building. That is long gone, replaced by small concrete front and side door porches with wooden awnings over them. The point of the front door's porch structure would partially cover the upper-floor door shown in the old photo.

There is a tree behind the house in the old photo. We don't think that tree is there anymore, or else if the tree in that location is the same one, it has been substantially topped long ago. We are not sure if the bushes at the front of the house today are the same as the ones surrounding the gate in the old photo, but it seems plausible. (The gate is long gone.) Of the giant Sequoia that looms over the house to the upper left in the new photo there is no sign because it hadn't been planted yet.

What a difference a century makes!
Tags: history, mehama

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