We are using two kinds of stone at Bunny Vista, limestone from the Stuarts Draft area and sandstone from the Middlebrook area.
In the winter of 2006 Kelley bought the foundation stones from an old barn located on the Moffett farm on Old White Hill Road near Stuarts Draft. The very large barn, built along a tributary of Christian’s Creek, had been demolished by the owners but the limestone foundation remained.
Kelley had already removed the back wall of the barn when he took this photo.
Kelley estimates that he bought 80 to 90 tons of stone and brought it from the barn to our property in his Ford F150. He moved much of the stone by himself during January and February, 2006, although he enlisted the enthusiastic help of our son Nick and, occasionally, our daughter Erin. Once or twice I even moved some stone. I found out that even small stones are heavy. Kelley worked almost all day nearly every weekend to haul the stone. When he got the stone to our house, he carefully sorted it by size and stacked it on pallets along the southern border of our lot. The pallets, two deep, lined about half of the lot fence line, about eighty yards.
The limestone, which is commonly found in old and new structures throughout Augusta County, is predominantly dark gray-blue in color with warm tan overtones. As it ages, it gets grayer and lighter in color.
We used limestone for the foundation of Bunny Vista’s log section. Although the house has a poured and insulated foundation, we wanted to cover the foundation with a layer of stone. We decided fairly early on, after working with our architect Peter Aaslestad, that we wanted the look of an old house that had been added to in stages, in effect emphasizing the three different building approaches for the house instead of trying to hide them. In addition to laying stone on the two above-ground walls visible from the exterior of the house, we would also have a stone wall on the interior basement wall. This would visually reinforce the idea that the log house was an important but separate element of the entire house.
The keystone above the window is beautiful and has a job to do. The wood framing has since been removed, so the keystone helps keep the stones above the window from falling down. They tell me this has something to do with geometry. I just believe that it works.
Stonemason Jim Roepke, who lives near Greenville, laid the stones for the log house foundation. Jim trained and worked for several years with traditional stonemason and log house builder Charles McRaven. Jim began work on our house in January, 2009, and finished in late April. His work is very careful and very beautiful. During the bitterly cold weather in winter, Jim covered his work area with a plastic tent and heated it with a kerosene heater, both while he worked and at night when the temperature dropped.
This interior wall connects the log house with the timber frame. Above the stone there are logs. Between the logs and the roof, beneath the gable, we are planning to use poplar bark siding. This wall brings the outside in, while emphasizing the log house structure.
I especially love the keystones over the front windows, the stone lintel over the window on the north side, and the entire interior basement stairwell wall, which I think is a masterpiece. Kelley worked with Jim to select stones that were beautiful and that feel wonderful when we touch them.
I am just beginning to see why people love stone so much. It joins Bunny Vista visually to the earth, and it feels safe and solid and eternal. But it also changes. It looks different at different times of day as the angle of the sun changes. The color changes when it rains and the stones gradually dry. It is rough and smooth at the same time. It is warm and again cold. I just want to take a chair and sit out by the walls all day. I am completely and absolutely smitten.
Kelley searched his stone cache for the long lintel stone above the window.
While he works, Jim Roepke likes to listen to music from the seventies, especially Neil Young. We can relate. Rock on, Jim.