I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days in a state I had never been, to tour a home I absolutely fell head-over-heals in love with. Even though I was born and raised in New Mexico, I have always felt drawn to the sweet comfort of traditional homes. Maybe it’s the romantic in me, but old homes tell a story a new home doesn’t have the maturity to tell. When Esther De Wolde, CEO of Phantom Screens, added #67 ‘Restore a Southern Home’ to her bucket list, I’m sure she had no idea just how much her heart would forever become tangled up with everything that makes the south what it is- the people, the history and, of course, the beauty.
Built in 1906, The Morgan-Ford House on Rapier Avenue is a classic Arts and Craft style bungalow that had been sitting pretty for many years waiting for just the right woman to come along and give her the care she’d been missing for many years. Located in the Oakleigh Garden Historic District in Mobile, Alabama, the Morgan-Ford house boasts large front columns with the original stained glass transom nesting above the front door with beautifully carved wooden corbels. The porch welcomes you home with the kind of ‘slammin’ screen doors’ Taylor Swift sings songs about. Be sure to scroll through the whole post to see what this beauty looked like when Esther met her.
I can just imagine being curled up with a favorite book rocking away in that chair watching the neighbors pass while soaking up the sweet southern charm of the oak-lined street.
(The original house number and doorbell!!)
I learned so much during my visit to Mobile, including the significance of painting porch ceilings blue. There’s a variety of reasons why southern folks do this, but it seems to be mainly because they’ve been that way so long it’s the only way to do it. Some believe it fools wasps and spiders because they think it’s the sky while I also learned some think it extends daylight and wards off evil spirits. When blue paints were first used on ceilings they were milk paint with lye mixed in. Lye acts as a repellent which means insects wouldn’t nest on the porch ledge or ceiling. This paint would easily chip so after a fresh coat of paint, there would also be a fresh coat of lye. It’s interesting to know the ‘why’ behind the long held tradition but I just think it’s charming and pretty.
The gas lamp on the front porch flickers with charm reminiscent of a simpler time I think we all pine for.
What a vast expanse of pure southern goodness. This porch is the epitome of the south.
And a front porch like this beauty isn’t complete without a swing!
When Esther first discovered the Morgan-Ford house the exterior was overgrown but in fairly decent shape. The interior of the home told a different story.
The bars on the windows didn’t ooze a welcoming vibe and the porch just needed a little sprucing up.
Stepping inside is quite a shock as the exterior doesn’t mimic this level of….how should we put it? In dire need of TLC.
Even through the muck and grime you can see all the potential peeking out in this home.
With the help of Danny Lipford and his team, Lipford Construction, Esther documented her love story in a series of videos. After I watched the first one, I was hooked! Check out the full series of videos here. I was humbled by the opportunity to tour this home and learn more about Phantom Screens, but what struck me the most is how God shows His love so often through relationships. I got to know the other ladies touring the home and I felt the heart and determination and dedication of Esther and the people on her team.
Be sure to check back for the reveal of the interior and how with lots of elbow grease and determination, Esther and her crew created the best of both worlds- classic style, timeless design and modern conveniences like appliances that simply make life easier and retractable screens that make Southern living that much sweeter.
SOURCES// Photography- Rempy Shokar Headshots, Aedriel Moxley