If you have been on our Facebook page, you will have seen from the title that we, very affectionately, call the Horner House “Toad Hall.” To really explain how this has come about, I need to start with a brief bit of background.
From the time I was little, I have loved old houses. Eric also has a deep and sincere love of architecture and antiques. My favorite style is Queen Anne and Eric prefers the buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright. Needless to say, there’s not really a compromise between the two styles. From the time we met, we have both wanted to move into an old house, preferably a “fixer upper”, but we’ve not really found one that we both fell in love with. The Horner House is less ornate than a Queen Anne, and much more ornate than a Wright building, but it has an extremely unique beauty and personality. We have both always loved it!
One thing that we have always agreed on is how we want to treat our “dream home.” The basic philosophy is that we want to respect and showcase the history as much as possible without turning it into a museum. In this case, that means that the main parts of the house, (front parlor, dining room, music room, and library) will be mostly done in the style of when the home was built. But the kitchen and bathrooms, while not clashing with a historic look will still have all the modern conveniences as well as being up to current code. But mostly, we want it to be fun!
So, why Toad Hall? Well, when Eric was a child he read the story “The Wind in the Willows.” For those of you who have only the Disney version to go by, the story is actually quite a bit different than that. Disney did get two things correct, though. The first being Mr. Toad’s obsession with cars and the second, that Toad Hall is the finest building around and all the animals are proud of it. As a child Eric wanted to live in Toad Hall when he grew up. So, seeing as the Horner House is a “handsome, dignified old house of mellowed red brick”, he began calling it Toad Hall. Needless to say, it stuck. And if I have enough money (ha ha) when we are done with everything else, I would like to have a few glass transoms made with scenes from Wind in the Willows to go over some of the doors!
The Toad Hall connection was even reinforced this week when we received information as to why the Horner’s left the house so quickly. It seems the Horners had some money troubles, too. Look for the coming blog post, Abraham Horner or J. Thaddeus Toad!
“Triumphant Mr. Toad”, Giclee on paper by Toby Bluth, a former Disney animator. (Some day, we hope to have a copy.) This is a “scene” from the Disney version.
Below is an excerpt from Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, published in 1908, that talks a bit about Mr. Toad and his wonderful Toad Hall. I hope you all enjoy it as much as we have!
'Why, certainly,' said the good-natured Rat, jumping to his feet and dismissing poetry from his mind for the day. 'Get the boat out, and we'll paddle up there at once. It's never the wrong time to call on Toad. Early or late he's always the same fellow. Always good-tempered, always glad to see you, always sorry when you go!'
'He must be a very nice animal,' observed the Mole, as he got into the boat and took the sculls, while the Rat settled himself comfortably in the stern.
'He is indeed the best of animals,' replied Rat. 'So simple, so good-natured, and so affectionate. Perhaps he's not very clever—we can't all be geniuses; and it may be that he is both boastful and conceited. But he has got some great qualities, has Toady.'
Rounding a bend in the river, they came in sight of a handsome, dignified old house of mellowed red brick, with well-kept lawns reaching down to the water's edge.
'There's Toad Hall,' said the Rat; 'and that creek on the left, where the notice-board says, "Private. No landing allowed," leads to his boat-house, where we'll leave the boat. The stables are over there to the right. That's the banqueting-hall you're looking at now—very old, that is. Toad is rather rich, you know, and this is really one of the nicest houses in these parts, though we never admit as much to Toad.'