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Ben Griffith’s Birthday Party in 1928, Pictured are Richard Lee Griffith, (top row l-r), Edwin C. Griffith, William Fairfax Griffith, Katherine Griffith Murphy, Phillip Smith Griffith, Staige Lemon Griffith, Ben Griffith, Amy Northup and Walter Randolph Griffith. Edurie Brown Hutt, (bottom row l-r), Frederick Deane Goodurin, Frederick Northup, Taylor Murphy, Sr., and guest. Photo courtesy of David Griffith.


including those of Oscar Lemoine, Maria Braxton, their son Randolph, and other family members. In addition, parishioners are possibly still buried in the land from when the old church was located in the front yard. Illness was also no stranger to the family, who built a


sunroom on stilts and telephone poles on the second floor when Benjamin Griffith was diagnosed with tuberculosis, to which he would eventually succumb. In addition, there have been two suicides on the property.


Griffith found that a gun discovered by a previous occupant told its own strange tale. The gun was found buried in a can in the backyard, and the firearm’s serial numbers date back to the year of one of the alleged suicides. Why bury the gun in a can? No one lived to tell that tale. Griffith’s inquiry into the house has led him to more than


just its intriguing history, his research has also paved the way for some of the most meaningful friendships of his life. Griffith discovered that Emma and Walter Vance Hall’s


son, who was born in the house and lived there until the age of six, still lives in the region. The younger Vance Hall and Griffith became fast friends, with Hall spending countless hours discovering and sharing family photographs and records. Hall, who loves the house and its roots deeply, had arranged for those family members still buried on the property to be resettled at the Farnham Church, years before Griffith took over the property. In a rare peek at history, Hall shared his grandmother


Staige’s diary, which shed light on much of the daily functions at the house, including the “calamity” of 1925, when over 500


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gallons of water flooded the house after the bottom of a cistern on the upper floor dropped out. “Such a mess I never want to see again,” Staige wrote. “Everything drenched — some of the dining room plaster fell!” Vance also found the original china sets that the family had


used a century ago for dinner service, gifting them to Griffith, who proudly displays them. In addition, Griffith became close friends with the Clarks, who generously shared their stories of love, laughter and family in the historic home. Since purchasing the home, Griffith, an accomplished


electronics designer and collector of “all things old,” has done the bulk of renovation and preservation on his own. From wainscoting to paint, drywall and flooring, Griffith has resurrected the grand home. He upcycled wood from The Middleton House, which was just two doors down and had been abandoned after a house fire in 2000. The rescued paneling matches and compliments the home’s existing walls and ceilings in both the entrance hall and the sitting room to the right of the entrance. The kitchen boasts modern appliances, while still favoring the Victorian beauty of the original architecture. Griffith tastefully furnished and decorated the front sitting


room with more period antiques, as well as many other finds that he has accumulated along the way. The entrance hall is filled with period pictures of past residents in their heyday, and on display are some of the more interesting items that Griffith has discovered, including the aforementioned mysterious buried gun. Upstairs, the large, bright bedrooms retain their airy feel, keeping in line with nearly all the 18x18,


July/August 2017


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