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The Spiker Gazette
 
Oxford, WVVolume  11Issue  10October 2017
In this Issue:Saving the Cellar House Stones
Grandma Gay's Lily Pond
What is Spikerhenge?
Gathering Around the Fire Pit

 

Saving the Cellar House Stones

Written by:  Bobbi Spiker-Conley

     Have you ever noticed all the sandstone at the Spiker farm? Or along the Hughes river? Or throughout the county? An abundant, very accessible and inexpensive resource for the area, it was a popular building material commonly used in foundations, walls, chimneys, fireplaces, etc.

     I'm not a geologist but as I understand it, sandstone is a sedimentary rock comprised of sand, minerals and rock grains that have been naturally cemented together. When first removed from the ground and cut, a fissure usually opens through the cement instead of through the grains, making it relatively easy to shape. The cut stone begins to "cure" upon exposure to the air, hardening as it dries.  

     I love the way Noah Bradley, of Handmade Houses, described this unique characteristic of sandstone on his website.  "I was always amazed at the stone foundations that I would see over in West Virginia. Either the folks over there were blessed with naturally occurring perfect cubes of stone, or the men over there were some of the most gifted stone masons on God's green Earth.

     "I finally encountered an old country gentlemen (sic) who showed me the secret. He grabbed an axe and placed it in the back of of his pickup truck and invited me to go for a ride. We later stopped up in a holler where an ancient rock formation was exposed. It turns out that the sandstone over there that has remained wet in the ground shapes with an axe easier than any piece of wood does. And, once that same stone is left in the sun for a couple of weeks, it hardens right up into...well...solid stone.  Mystery solved." (Source: West Virginia Sandstone by Noah Bradley, Originally posted 22 March 2015, Filed Under Stonework.)

     I, too, have long wondered how all those seemingly perfect dimension stones were cut, and by whom. Were they culled from the family's property, shaped by our ancestors' hands? Or were they mined by others and hauled to the property from a local quarry such as the Zinn or Moats near Harrisville or the Naughton at Cornwallis? Regardless, they are quite impressive.

     The walls of pre-Civil War cellar house at the Spiker farm were built from the local sandstone. A few years ago, one side collapsed. Mike and others rebuilt the wall with modern block but kept the ancient sandstone blocks for use elsewhere on the property. One such place was at Grandma Gay's old lily pond.

     Grandma Gay wanted a pond filled with fish and waterlilies so she had a cement pond constructed near the back door of the house. (The year of construction is unknown.) The water to fill it was gravity-fed from a cistern constructed high on the hill above the barn. Additional water, when needed, came from the well. According to Mike Spiker, the pond "was dormant for years and Brad reconstructed it and re-did the little fountain seen in some photos. We kept waterlilies and goldfish in it for a few years. Always drained for winter. Due to leaks in the concrete, etc., I repurposed to a small flower garden by filling with dirt. The photos are of me getting the boys to help me put up a wall around the old pond. These are the same sandstones used in the 'WV' on the base of the hill."

 

     By now everyone is familiar with the giant "WV" that Mike referred to; it's become a local landmark. He said, "I had an idea of making the 'WV' out of those stones (that were removed from the old cellar house) and putting them at the base of the hill where Grandma Spiker planted the daffodils. Brock, Drew and I then put them in their present location after a little trial-and-error matching them. People have stopped and asked for their photos in front of them."

     Sarah Spiker Smith told us, "The guys worked all morning on it. Marty and I came up with the name. Spikerhenge."

     Nearby, you'll find more of the repurposed stones being used as a fire pit. It's a popular gathering spot during the cooler evenings of the Spiker Family Reunion each Memorial Day weekend.

 

     Where else have you noticed the sandstone at the farm -- original and repurposed? Does it evoke any special memories? Share your thoughts with us in the Spiker Family Forum.    

 

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