1846 Homestead Renovation

A Little Dinner Party with Strangers

A Plan Was Concocted

I am a member of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Ft. Graham Chapter.  I am a proud member, not because I’m proud to have the membership, but because is a lovely way to honor the countless people who came before us.  If you are interested in membership, please contact me and I will help you in any way that I can.  It is a sweet group of ladies who log in community service hours, fund scholarships for local students, and generally try to keep history alive.  Yesterday was our Christmas Tea and we had a guest speaker, Denise Bennett.  Denise assumes the identity of a prominent Suffragette and gives a passionate account of the struggle for women’s right to vote.

A Brave Soul

Denise traveled from the Houston area to be with us, and needed a place to spend the night.  Our chapter’s 1st Vice-Regent, Madeleine, asked if we would be willing to open our home to Denise.  We readily agreed, but asked Madeleine to please communicate that the house was not yet finished and that, while the accommodations would be comfortable, they were not (perhaps) what she was accustomed to.  Messages were sent and received and we were assured that all would be well.  Still…I was a bit nervous.  Being told that a house is under renovation is one thing, living with the realities is quite another.

The program was amazing.  The tea was lovely and then it was time to bring our guests (we invited Madeleine to dine with us that night as well) to our home.  It was the first time either of them had been here and I knew that reality was going to be (maybe?) different that what Denise had envisioned and what Madeleine had seen on-line.  I held my breath as the ladies trudged across the gravel drive.

Enter, Oh Ye Strangers

The first thing on the agenda was to show Denise to her room.  I had worked on the rooms all week trying to make sure that the gaps (through which insulation loves to drop) were caulked.  I painted the walls and trim.  We trimmed out the casement opening between the living room and the bedroom.  We hung (finally) a door for the bathroom and after a few days of painting, I installed the functioning door knob.

The door from the living room (south pen) into the hallway was installed, but I haven’t finished restoring the rim lock box/knob yet, but because Denise was a lone traveler and a female staying overnight in a home belonging to people she didn’t know, I wanted her to have a modicum of security.  I had time to install a bar lock on the door.  Better than nothing.

Dinner is Served

The week prior to Denise’s visit was a bit on the hectic side.  Jerry had to drive to Commerce each day (that is almost a two hour drive each way) and so he wasn’t here to help with the prep work and he was pretty darn worn out by week’s end.  Saturday morning, we helped cook breakfast for our church family.  We raced to Hillsboro for panty hose (it was a HIGH tea and I was fresh out of hose) and also something for dinner.

I had toyed around with the idea of serving smoked salmon or something I could ask Jerry to do on the grill, but that didn’t seem fair after the week he had.  We opted for a small Italian themed dinner.  We started with tapenade, Parmesan cheese crisps, and grilled artichokes.  For dinner, we made carbonara (Jerry’s favorite pasta dish from our time in Italy).  For dessert, we nibbled on homemade cookies.

Unexpected Loveliness and Joy

The entire week had been a push to get the rooms more complete for our guest.  I was concerned that she feel safe and comfortable and, when you don’t know someone, you just don’t know how it is going to turn out.  Have I ever mentioned that I worry about a lot of stuff that I probably shouldn’t?  Yeah…this was yet another one of those times.

Denise professed to be very happy with her accommodations.  Both she and Madeleine were gracious about dinner and made all the happy noises of appreciation when they toured the old house.  I can’t tell you what a relief that always is to me.  These ladies were fun to share with because history means so much to them and they “get it”.  All the fights with snakes.   The more than 3.5 years of working to buy the house.  The blood, sweat, and tears.  And they told us that it had been worth it.  Heck, Denise has already promised that she will be coming to spend the night again with us and I can’t think of a better endorsement!



  • Denise Bennett

    I arrived and we were strangers, and when I left I felt like we are family!!!! It’s only been 3 days since I was with you and I miss you both so much! Your home is gorgeous! I loved my suite and slept so well! The food was amazing, my family has heard about the meal several times already! You are so inspiring!!!! Love you bunches!!!!

    • Jana Burch

      I am so glad that it all worked out! I was worried about you being here without a companion, and I am so glad you were comfortable and felt safe. You are an amazing woman, Denise. Thank you for your kind words, your amazing devotion to sharing Women’s History, and for being such a fantastic house guest. Can’t wait to see you again!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *