In the writing room right now ...

In the writing room right now ... I have taken down the brown "butcher" paper that held ideas, photos, drawings, and my hand-drawn maps and plot outlines for the past five or six books. I've placed all those items into three-ring binders, and cleared the deck for paintings and photographs that involve courage, as I move forward in GHOSTKEEPER, the new novel set in Lyndonville, Vermont. My 1850 Vermont adventure THE LONG SHADOW is under contract with Five Star/Cengage -- I will give you a publication date as soon as I know! Scribbling lots of poems, too. And there's a possible route to publication of the "Vermont Nancy Drew" novel I built on Wattpad (see right-hand column). Yes, I guess I do like multi-tasking! How about you?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Secret Rooms and Chimneys

photo courtesy of timmurtagh
The discussion that Jane Lindholm hosted on Vermont Public Radio last month, with historian and professor Ray Zirblis and me, covered a lot of aspects of Vermont's Underground Railroad and some of the passions and confusions around whether and where people may have hidden during the years before the Civil War, in Vermont. (Short summary: Mostly, they didn't need to -- because Vermont stood for personal liberty.) One point made a couple of times is that Vermont contractors often know about hiding places in old houses, because they find them during reconstruction and repairs. Here's a great comment from contractor and designer Sam Clark, of Sam Clark Design:

I have one bit of information on secret rooms around chimneys.

A lot of old farmhouses had those huge central chimneys, which could easily be 8x8 feet.  But they became obsolete with the invention of modern wood stoves in the 19th c, or even gas or oil heat.  So, two ideas: the framers had a certain way of framing houses, which allowed for these big chimneys, which they didn't vary when technology changed.
Also, sometimes these old chimneys were torn down, and rebuilt as simple brick flues, without changing the walls around them much.  We're working on a house in Maine where you can see the remnants of the big chimney, but there is a secret room around the "modern" 16x24 chimney.
Thanks, Sam, for this information!

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