Monday, June 8, 2015

The Waterfalls Then & Now {Restoring The Lefere Mansion}

Rewind to just barely over a year ago.  Spring of 2014.  WE WON THE BID ON THE HOUSE!  OH MY GOODNESS!!!!!!!!!  Tears?  Laughter?  Didn't even know what to think, feel, do....  We met with the son of the previous owner who handed us a large rolled up map.  I barely noticed when he pointed out the waterfall on the map.  Huh?  Waterfall?  Whatever, I wanted to get in the house.  IT WAS OURS!   

A little while later, I'm out exploring around in the barns when my hubby calls me on the cell phone.  Really?  He's gotta call me? We're both at the "new" place.  But he's very excited and says  he found the waterfalls and I have got to come see!

Completely overgrown and pretty much hidden from the untrained eye....  this is what I see:
 But that's just the twelve foot falls.  There's much more.....

After moving in, boxes everywhere, house a mess, one of the Lefere's granddaughter;s pulls up one day with her son and nephew.  She had heard a new family had bought the place and was anxious to show her boys.  Ack!  Of all days!  (Christine, you NEED to come back now that I have the place a little more presentable!)  She was the sweetest lady and oh my stars made our day and them some when she brought over a manilla envelope full of old photos!  So all of the old photos you see are compliments of the Lefere family.

First though, here is part of an article about Trail Acres (what this estate was once named) from the Jackson Citizen Patriot about the falls:

The map and this photo below show the stone lined walkway to the sunken garden.  I'm sorry my friends, but we have yet to discover this.  Twenty years of neglect and most of what you see in this picture has completely disappeared!  I did find a rose bush growing wild last year out there somewhere and wondered if it was from the sunken garden?

How cool is this?
American Motors did a photo shoot at the Lefere Estate:

Looking absolutely magnificent in 1979:

And an American Motors car show on the property!
 The jeep is parked on a platform in the middle of the cement pond:

Fast forward to the day we took ownership:

I snapped these this spring when there was still some snow on the ground.  This is looking down into the pond.  We have our work cut out for us!

This is the same view the American Motors car show photo was taken from.  If you look close, there is the stone bridge, and the pond that the jeep was in is also down there.  Hard to tell it is the same place!! :(

If you look close on the bottom left, you can see where the Lefere's added a spotlight to shine up on the fall's after they bought the place from Miner:

 The huge pipes at the top of the falls that circulates the water:

Beginning clean up!  Hey!  There is cement under all the dirt and growth!
This is the 8 foot falls - the 12 foot falls is higher up and flows down to this one, eventually ending in the pond where water is (was) recirculated).

Grandma Kim brought her chain saw with her from Iowa and we went crazy!

Attempting to burn all the brush in the dry pond:

Steps leading down into the pump house.  No, I have not gotten brave enough to go down in there yet!

These kids worked hard digging out some of the cement lined waterway:

And then we got side tracked with other projects.....  
We still have a looooooong way to go!!!

What do you think?
Will water ever flow through these beautiful falls again??
We sure hope so!!!

UPDATE 1/24/2020
We DID get them running and BEAUTIFUL for a wedding in the summer of 2019.
Stay tuned for an updated blog post with lots of photos!

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  1. Wow!! What a beautiful find. I hope one day you are able to finish the landscape recovery and maybe have a reunion car photo shoot? Best of luck!

    1. Wow, never thought of a reunion car photo shoot! I don't think I have the right connections to make that happen. :) We are the first people to live here that don't have connections. haha

  2. It was so lovely of the former owner's daughter had pictures to share and that the son had a drawing of where everything was. What an exciting addition to your new home and grounds. What a LOT of work too.

  3. Wow! That's an undertaking, for sure! But nice that your parents are able & willing to come & help with the work. Also good to have your kiddos pitch in!

    At last county we've taken out over 100 trees & 80 shrubs & other plantings, including many 'volunteer' plants. The previous owner made a practice of buying remaining inventory of area garden centers over 20 years, then planted everything 5' apart all over 2+ acres in an attempt to hide the house. Since it's huge & on a hill that wasn't going to happen, but it did camouflage the front pretty well. When I mentioned how many plants we had to remove (large trees were taken out by a tree service), one lady who followed our FB page accused us of trying to make a parking lot & said she was unliking our page. Whatever . . . she didn't have to maintain it or pay for upkeep. At any rate, it's not like we were felling trees in a virgin forrest, because most were less than 20 years old & some were inferior species.

  4. Oh wow, Kammy! I can see the water flowing there again! It's really exciting that you have the before photos of years ago. Now you have another before... and I'm anxious to see how your family transforms it back to life. What a landscaping treasure!

  5. What a challenge! Wish I could be there to help you. How sad that it wasn't maintained over the years!

  6. How exciting! What a great place to raise your family.

  7. Oh my God, I am SOOOO excited for you. That is going to be an amazingly fun project to tackle. I cannot wait to see your progress on this. What an adventure! :)

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  9. That is some beautiful property! How so exciting for you and your family. I'm excited myself to watch your progress. It's going to be awesome.

  10. What a lot of work, but it will be fabulous when you're done. Good luck, I look forward to seeing the progress as it takes place. I can see your kids loving playing all around it for years to come.

  11. I think those waterfalls will be going again some day! Neat that you have those pictures! And neat that it's a project for the whole family to work on together!

  12. Oh my goodness! How cool is that?! It's like an archaeological dig, LOL! It's great that you have pictures of it, so you know what it was like before. Are you guys planning on completely restoring it?


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