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Historic Glenwood Foundation

P.O. Box 6010

Charleston, WV 25362

Lucy & Elizabeth Quarrier

The last of the four generations to live at Glenwood were my aunts, Lucy and Elizabeth. When their uncle, Lewis Summers, died in 1953, his widow, Hazel Monroe Summers moved to an apartment in Kanawha City. This left Lucy and Elizabeth in a quandary. They suddenly became the owners of two houses: Glenwood and the house they had lived in since birth, the house we always referred to as "1308" (Virginia Street). When the decision was made to sell 1308, I remember the sadness in her voice as Elizabeth said, "This was a happy home for more than 50 years." Little did she know at the time that the best was yet to come.

Lucy and Elizabeth immersed themselves in plans to restore Glenwood to its original state, and to that end architects, contractors and decorators were consulted . . . and some rejected. A local decorator proved imperious, demanding for example that the dining room be done over in brown. "Brown!! Imagine that dark room in brown, and neither of us likes brown," Lucy protested. Why not go to the top, they reasoned. The end result was that they found just whom they were looking for in the person of Mrs. Pennypacker, who helped with the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg. When she appeared at the front door of Glenwood, she immediately looked up at the medallion on the hall ceiling and said, "I knew that's what I would see." My aunts had found their decorator!

The next few years were steeped in activity and decisions: Which of the many samples of wallpaper from France would look best in which room and which furniture was worthy of inclusion and where would it go? There was enough furniture to choose from throughout the house, including the attic, so that only one item was purchased (the sofa in the library). The rest of the furniture not in tip top shape was sent to a local craftsman, George Hager, for refurbishing George was a miracle worker, and the results were splendid.

 

How to restore the kitchen? Since both sisters were terrific cooks - Lucy prepared the celebratory turkeys, fixed vegetables from her own garden, and made her famous whole wheat roles. Elizabeth made the world's best brownies, terrific salads and blancmange for whoever wasn't feeling well - they needed a kitchen that would serve them well. It was surprisingly modern for the 50's, even including an island (or a peninsula, really). So this room departed from 19th Century authenticity, but it was wonderfully practical, and it made them both happy.

 

The process was very exciting. Each day Lucy and Elizabeth drove to Glenwood from 1308 to watch the progress, and each day they had an event to report. The best one that lives to this day was the story of a carpenter who was working on the library ceiling when to his great surprise a Civil War sword fell through the ceiling and onto the floor narrowly missing him! It had probably been hidden for fear that it would be discovered by the Union soldiers, who were often on the premises, taking the farm animals and the garden vegetables for their own use. The sword now hangs above the library door.

 

When the last bit of sawdust had been swept up and the last Persian rug had been laid, Glenwood became the crown jewel of Charleston, if not the entire state. The place sparkled. So now Lucy and Elizabeth could show it off. There were teas and tours, and the first group to experience both were all the workmen who had had anything to do with the restoration, and their wives. Then came the cousins, then came Elizabeth's co-workers at various libraries, then came Lucy's weaving associates. Newspaper articles appeared, then reporters and photographers from Southern Accents Press arrived and the photos and article appeared in Historic Houses of the South. Glenwood got plenty of attention and the sisters were in their element.

 

1308 was finally sold and the new residents of Glenwood eventually had time to concentrate on their individual specialties: Lucy was a renown weaver, having been asked by the state of WV to teach the rural women how to weave. This was during the depression and times were hard. Lucy had a collection of looms and at least one of them was always in use. In her later years she moved her looms to a center where she had a faithful class of dedicated weavers, who called themselves "The Lucy Quarrier Weavers." She was a superb vegetable gardener, and friends and family alike reaped the delicious benefits come harvest time. She was also generous with sage advice on gardening matters, and to this day my husband, Peter, plants Lucy’s kale seed, having collected seed from year to year. There are many things about her that I wish I had inherited, but maybe the top one is a head for figures. She was a whiz at bookkeeping and for most of her life prepared her own tax returns. After her death I was amused to find a carbon copy letter to the IRS that began, "Gentlemen, I have no real reason for being late . . ."

 

Elizabeth was a librarian, having earned her Master of Library Science degree from the University of Michigan. When the St. Albans Library moved into its new building in the late 50’s, Elizabeth was asked to supervise. She balked. "I have moved three libraries, and just can't move another!" But she did. However, her first love was horticulture, and the grounds at Glenwood were beautifully appointed with appropriate bushes and flowers, which yielded her fresh artistic arrangements for various rooms in the house. Her famous flower "Circle" was just that. At the center was a goldfish pond encircled with her favorite flora, which was the perfect outdoor compliment to the new showplace.

 

Some of my earliest and happiest childhood memories occurred at Glenwood. For me, Glenwood was a place of endless entertainment and possibilities, and my aunts were only too ready to indulge the fantasies and satisfy the curiosities of their only niece. Therefore: hide and seek, rides in the wheelbarrow, weaving lessons, whole wheat roll making, picking peas in Aunt Lucy's ample vegetable garden (I picked 3 and ate 2), watermelon seed fights, archery lessons, tying small paper bags around the grapes to prevent the birds from helping themselves, and piggy back rides are just a few of the diversions my aunts and Glenwood offered. Lucy and Elizabeth took the stewardship of their ancestral home seriously and for the rest of their time at Glenwood generously shared their knowledge and their love of the house with all who expressed an interest.

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Submitted by: Elizabeth Quarrier Hedrick