Fuller Callaway Sr. and his wife Ida Cason Callaway opened their new Hentz & Reid designed home with a large house warming on June 15, 1916. They invited hundreds of friends and guests and all enjoyed a lovely afternoon at Hills & Dales. They planned to have their opening reception on April 28, their 25th wedding anniversary, but had to wait until the home was finished in June. As the old saying goes, “better late than never.”
Eighty-seven years later, in the fall of 2004, Hills & Dales Estate, including the historic Ferrell Gardens and a brand new visitor center, opened to the public. At that time only the first floor of the Callaway home was opened for tours and the second and third floors remained a mystery. In fact, the most frequent visitor request over the last six years has been, “When are you going to open up the rest of the house?”
Planning to open the upper floors began in earnest in 2008. After we determined that it was going to take over a year to complete the work, an advisory group member commented, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to open the second and third floors on April 28, in honor of Fuller Sr. and Ida?” We latched onto the idea and given we had over a year of work ahead, set April 28, 2010, as the proposed opening date.
The restoration project is now complete and all three floors of the home are open for tours. During the project all the furniture was removed from the home and stored in a secure climate controlled location. While the furnishings were away, a new computer controlled heating and cooling system that regulates humidity levels was installed in the house. The entire house, including all chandeliers and light fixtures, was completely rewired. We also installed a state-of-the-art smoke detection system, lightning protection and a fire suppression system. Special attention was taken to integrate these modern systems into the home without altering the historic architecture of the house.
Once all the systems were complete, numerous plaster ceilings and walls were repaired using traditional methods. Windows were removed, re-glazed, painted and put into working order. Throughout the house decorative finishes of walls, ceilings and mantels were restored based on historical research. Original medicine cabinets in each bathroom were refurbished. Numerous historic fabrics in the house, most notably the silk damask fabric in the dining room, were conserved. Floor surfaces were rejuvenated. Old discolored waxes were carefully removed from the hardwood, marble and circa 1940’s linoleum floors. They were then rejuvenated with carnauba wax. Brass hardware was cleaned and polished giving the home a new glimmer but retaining its original charm.
According to Suellen Dolan, Tour Coordinator, “Visitors really seem to enjoy touring all the new rooms. The spacious linen closet and the Tudor style billiard room are real favorites. People love the garden views as well.” A note from Hollis Rawson Easley (Mrs. Curran S., Jr.), Alice Callaway’s niece, recently arrived in the mail at Hills & Dales Estate. Hollis noted:
The guest bedroom on the second floor features a wonderful canopy bed. This mahogany bed is a 1916 original. There aren’t many of us left who can remember things as they were but I can tell you that no one could be more thrilled than I am to see Hills and Dales restored. It is so reflective of all that Alice wanted, lived and dreamed and I feel that she would give her whole hearted approval to the entire renovation.