Something Different everything that we do
is unique and special – including the dcor
The large painting on the wall is of Remlik Hall Farm located on Lagrange Creek about five miles from Urbanna. Both Dan and Sarah, creators of Something Different, were raised on the farm. Dan and his wife Barbara still own most of the farm and raise cattle. The oblong building is a quarter-mile indoor racetrack. The farm was a training facility for thoroughbred racehorses until 1940. Some of the finest horses that ever ran were there, and Exterminator (ŇOld BonesÓ) retired there. During his long and exceptional career Exterminator won 50 out of 100 races, including the 1918 Kentucky Derby, and is considered to rank among the top 5 horses in American racing history. The wooden tables were stable doors and still display Willis Sharpe KilmerŐs original racing colors. They have not been painted since 1920 – Barbara and Sarah just cleaned them up and floated on a coating of epoxy.
This building was the Green Front Grocery for about 50 years until being converted into a restaurant by Arthur Webb (Awful ArthurŐs) in the 1980Ős. It has been used as a restaurant ever since. Many restaurants have serious problems with noise and these old buildings with pressed tin ceilings, hard walls and rectangular shape typically have especially horrible acoustics. There was so much echo and reverberation that it was difficult for even two people to talk and with 50 inside it is almost impossible. Previous restaurateurs tried hanging sails from the ceiling and putting up baffle walls. Nothing that they tried solved the problem. We knew when we were doing the renovation during the spring of 2013 that we had to do something to reduce the noise level.
The old beams framing the doorway and behind the bar came from a pre-Revolutionary War house on the Dragon Run near Wares Bridge. After being abandoned for many years, hogs were allowed to root under the two massive chimneys. When the chimneys fell they knocked the house down. Dan and Barbara bought the salvage rights and, along with their daughters and friends, recovered what timbers were still sound and the handmade bricks from the chimneys and full English basement. The house was named Woodbine, which is an old English term for vines that grow around trees. There was, and still is, plenty of honeysuckle, ivy and Virginia creeper along the Dragon.
Woodbine was of Dutch Colonial design with a gambrel roof — a style that was popular in this area. Several examples from the period still exist in Middlesex and King and Queen counties, and judging from the architectural details, were probably all built by the same housewright. The sills, beams and posts were of hand-adzed and pit-sawn white oak timbers held together with mortise and tenon joints fastened with wooden pegs known as trunnels (tree-nails). Since each joint was precisely cut and fit before the house was built, each timber was marked with saw cuts and roman numerals to identify where it went – the saw cuts identified which wall the timber went in and the roman numerals identified which joint it fit. Handmade nails were used to fasten on the cypress siding, roof sheathing and shingles, but no nails were used in any of the framing because joinery was stronger and nails were valuable. Iron rods were brought from England for nail stock and then nails were cut, shaped and headed by a blacksmith. One hundred years earlier it was common practice for settlers to burn their houses in order to retrieve the nails when they moved to fresh ground. In 1644 the General Assembly passed a law forbidding this practice and providing for houses to be surveyed by two men, the number of nails computed, and settlers compensated accordingly.
The header in our doorway was a corner post. Mortises secured the tenons of diagonal braces fastened to the sills in the same manner. A trunnel is still visible in one of the mortises. The two posts in the doorway and the beam behind the bar were all diagonal braces and show how precisely the joints were cut and fitted.
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