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Toad Hall (Pierce House) 1983

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Mary S Taylor

Joined: 27 Nov 2007
Posts: 28018
Location: Fresno, CA

PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2014 11:24 pm    Post subject: Toad Hall (Pierce House) 1983 Reply with quote

Pacific Grove Tribune, CA April 20, 1983
The tale of Toad Hall, or, piecing together the Pierce house
By Sheila E. Toner
Toad Hall will be one of the stops on the Victorian Home Tour this Sunday, April 24. To some, Toad Hall may signify the dwelling place of Mr. Toad in Kenneth Graham’s Wind in the Willows, but to Ed and Vanessa Bredthauer, it’s a 1904 structure they call home. The Bredthauers – he’s an architect, she’s a teacher – bought the place, also known as the Pierce House, in 1975. It was in such a state of disrepair that “for the first two years, we didn’t meet a single person,” because repairs took up all their time, Vanessa says. “We moved up here from L.A. without jobs or a place to live,” she explains. “We looked at places for rent and aw one of those “loss leaders’ in the paper. The house was sold when we called,” but the agents agreed to look around. “There were two realtors helping us and one pulled this house out and the other man said, “Oh, no! You don’t want to liver there,” (But) we didn’t think there’d be any place in Pacific Grove we wouldn’t want to live.” Thought they don’t say so, their conviction on that point must have quavered a bit when they first saw the house. The previous tenants had not paid garbage bills for a while. “There was six months’ garbage in the back when we bought it. When we first moved in, there was so much cat manure in the bathroom, we just shut the door,” she recalls. “We pulled up the carpet and there was so much mildew from the dogs and rats.” After the clean-up, Ed and Vanessa set to work on the restoration. One of the first things they did was remove the asbestos siding from the house. They were surprised to discover that the underlying redwood siding was very well preserved and they wondered why the owner had bothered with the asbestos shingles. Then they learned that she had won the stuff at a county fair. Later there was the problem of plumbing, Ed believes the house originally had no indoor plumbing whatsoever. “There are signs in the backyard that there was an outhouse,” he says. When they began to install pipes, he says, “I could never get the threads on the pipes and unions to match up. Every time we turned the water back on, we had another leak. One by one, the difficulties were overcome. “The fun part is probably when it’s liveable. It’s torn up for so long and all of a sudden, it’s liveable. You feel comfortable and start inviting people over again,” Ed says. Vanessa notes, “It’s been so much fun to give it…? “A personality,” Ed finishes. “Yeah, to make it the way it should have been,” Vanessa adds. They chose the name Toad Hall because, Says Ed, “He was impetuous and did things spontaneously, like we did when we bought this house.” This will be the second time the Bredthauers have participated in the Victorian Home Tour. They were part of the event in 1977, but have made a few more changes in the house since that time. “It was a tremendous ego boost,” Vanessa says of the 1977 tour. “It was nice to see how people perceived what we’ve done. Now I know what it’s like to be in a museum,” she adds. “In the kitchen we have all wood counters. Everybody who walked in put their hand on the same corner. By the end of the day there was a black circle on the counter.” Asked if he has a favorite room in the house, Ed stops for a minute then shakes his head. “I live in the whole house. I like all of it,” he says. But Vanessa says, “I know right off. My favorite is the bathroom because the entire room is reconstructed to look old.” Indeed it is from the smooth wainscoting and delicately patterned wallpaper to the ball and claw footed bathtub. The loveliness of Toad Hall and 11 other elegant old homes in Pacific Grove will be open for public inspection Sunday, April 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets for the tour are $6.50 per person and are available at the Pacific Grove Art Center, and from Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce. In connection with the tour, the PGAC will offer a salad bar luncheon for $3 from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
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