At Something Different everything that we do
is unique and special – including the dŽcor

 

Tables

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.

 

The painting was commissioned in 1951 when Remlik Hall was a major turkey farm, hatching as many as 500,000 poults and raising about 40,000 market birds per year. In 1954 Hurricane Hazel came along and rearranged several buildings including the back 1/3 of the racetrack. BarbaraŐs sawmill is now in the front part. She no longer operates the mill and it is for sale, but she still does wood turnings in her shop. Some are on display in the niche on the back wall of the restaurant.

 

 

Acoustics

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.

Knowing that noise would be a problem, Dan dug through some of the barns and located enough old turkey egg flats to line the upper portion of the walls and covered them with coffee bags. Each bag came with 150 pounds of green coffee beans — Dan roasted them all over the years. The bags helped dampen the sound some, but egg flats did the real job. Practically nothing is more effective at capturing and absorbing sound — egg flats have been used to dampen sound in recording studios for over 100 years. They are so effective that they have reduced the noise level by 85% and completely eliminated the echo.

 

Woodbine

1766

 

Photo by
Richard A. Genders
as published in
Historic Buildings in
Middlesex County
Virginia
1650-1875

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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