Interview with Julia Moore on July 30, 2007 OH# 379
Interviewed by Emily Weaver and Dr. Cameron McMillen
Transcribed by W. Ray
EW: This is Emily Weaver and I’m with Dr. Cameron McMillen on the 30th of July, 2007 and we in Mrs. Julia Moore’s home and we are conducting an oral history interview for the Historic Neighborhood Project. Mrs. Moore, do you willingly participate in this oral history project?
JM: Yes, I do.
EW: Thank you.
CM: I understand that you were born in Cleveland but you didn’t grow up in Cleveland.
JM: Right. I was born in what I call, James Albert Wiggin’s house down on the corner. That was the hospital. Mama said they were building, what they call the new Cleveland Hospital at that time. It’s now out at Delta State (DSU School of Nursing). And they were slower in building the hospital and I wasn’t coming, so I was born and lived on Victoria. Lived on North Victoria.until I was two and a half and then we moved to the riverside.
CM: Do you remember the address on North Victoria?
JM: No, I don’t. I can pick out the house, but off hand, I don’t know the number. When I’m on North Victoria I stop and “that’s the house.” It was a little rental house.
CM: And how long have you lived in this house?
JM: We moved in this house in 1973.
CM: And you said that you knew the history of this house?
JM: Right, I do. I have the abstract of the house that I’m going to give you. This is 208 South Leflore.
EW: Thank you.
CM: Oh, these are wonderful.
EW: Did you compile all of that?
JM: My husband is a lawyer.
EW: Oh yes, that would make a difference.
JM: I guess you see the first transaction on the house is in 1906. What we don’t know and what the records do not indicate is did this S.T. Wright build the house and then sell it to Mrs. Webber, or was the house previous to 1906. The records don’t indicate that. So we know the house is over a hundred years old but we are certain just exactly. And Dana’s foot note says the next transaction was to a medical doctor and then the next transaction was to Mr. Myers. Now that becomes important because Mr. Myers and his family lived in this house from 1915 to 1919. They had a son and three daughters. Estelle Myers Bedwell. I don’t know if you ever knew her or not. She was called “Sister.” And she and her husband lived – now I’m going about this rather poorly, but they lived in the house on the corner that Lynn and Brian Varner live in – that was the Myers Home. They lived in this house and in 1919 Mr. Myers hit it big. It was dollar cotton. And he built the brick house that is on the corner. And he owned some property. He owned half of this block is what he owned. He owned a strip on Victoria, as well as, this way. And so the barns and the gardens and the stable, and whatever else is scattered over this property. As I said he had three daughters, and they got married. He built them houses on Victoria. So the house that Johnny Arnold lives in, the house that Margaret Fleming lives in, and the house that is directly behind me that we call the Ruby Rovenhorst House, he built for each of his daughters as starters.
CM: They look very similar. We wondered about that. And that’s why….
JM: Starter houses. And then sold the lot – I think I’m right on this – the house that Janelle Mitchell lives in, which is right next door. You’ve got four houses.
CM: She’s in the white house.
JM: Right. You’ve got four houses. He sold that lot and that house at the same time period roughly. So you’ve actually got four houses that look very, very much alike and that’s why.
CM: Do you know if he had a plan for the houses?
JM: No, no. The plans are not. So Ben added on to Ruby’s house, was not. It was built. It is just a one bedroom –
EW: It looks like a little cottage.
JM: It is a little cottage. That’s what all of them were. They were really just starter houses. When we bought this house, Carol Tatum’s house was not here, so it was open yard between Sister and Cullen. We had moved into the house, and I knew all the neighbors were curious as to what we had done to it. So we invited everybody down for a drink one night. And Gladys and George Woodward lived in the house that Michael Carr is in. I don’t know, all the neighbors were here. And so Sister, the daughter of this Myers, was walking through the house and she was talking about living here. And she said, “Son,” that was her brother. She said, “Son died in this house.” A great flu epidemic and I think it was also 1919. I’m not sure. I’ve heard my mama talk about it. But it was during the day of World War I. And she said, “He died in this house, “ and she was standing here in the living room, and she pointed in that direction and she said, “The bedroom that’s on the back of the house was on the front of the house at that time.” And that was Son’s bedroom. Well, the bedroom that was on the front of the house that’s now on the back of the house was my daughter’s bedroom. So I decided I would not tell her that Son Myers at about her age had died of influenza in the bedroom. And about two, maybe three months later, it was before Christmas I can remember that, one morning she came in for breakfast and she said, “I have the funniest dream last night.” And I said, “What did you dream baby?” And she said, “Well I dreamed that I was in the bed asleep, in my bed asleep, and I woke up and there was a little boy standing at the foot of my bed.” I said, “A little boy? What did he look like?” And she said, “I don’t remember.” I said, “Well how old was he?” And she said, “I don’t know, maybe about my age.” And she said, “I asked him what he wanted.” She said, “I wasn’t scared of him. And he didn’t answer me. He just stood and looked at me. And then he turned around and he walked out the door.” Well that’s my ghost story for the house. I did not tell Kilby until she was twenty-something years old about the little boy. There was no way, she had no way of knowing that. I called Sister and I said, “Sister, your brother may have visited in my house.”
EW: So y’all actually physically took the room off?
JM: No, well, that’s what I’m getting ready to tell you. In 1919 you will see that the house was sold to R.E. Jackson and then you’ve got this long footnote down here. Judge Jackson came to Cleveland in 1919 and he became Chancery Court Judge. And my husband as a young lawyer, was Judge Jackson’s Chancery Court Reporter. And Judge and Mrs. Jackson lived here, it says until 1973. Actually Mrs. Jackson died, I think in ’72. We purchased the house from her estate. But Judge and Mrs. Jackson lived here and the first time that I ever came in this house was to come as their guest for supper. And I told Dana, “I want that house. I definitely want it.” As I said, they bought the house in 1919. After World War II they remodeled this house. If you get on Victoria and look at the back part of the house, you can see how the house originally looked. There’s a vast difference in the front part and the back part and that’s because she remodeled it. She took that bedroom off and put it on the back. She did the roofline that you see that comes down nice and neat and straight and plain. She put the porch on the front of the house. She did the front walks. She did all of that. So, no, that’s not how the house originally looked. And I don’t know precisely what the exterior did look like. I have one drawing that was left in the house that had to do with the remodeling but it doesn’t show what it was like prior to. It shows the sketch. I have one sheet of it. Probably there was a lot more of it that got lost. I found it in a closet that I’m sure they left it behind for me. But at any rate, the Jackson’s this is – folks that know Cleveland, this is the Jackson House. And I told somebody that maybe when I die it will be the Moore House. But I don’t know that. From 1919 to 1973 was a pretty good stretch of time. I guess you ought to be able to claim it. But anyway, that’s basically what I know about it. Not too many transactions really for a house this old. Yeah.
CM: Was it common for people to move – I’ve never heard of people moving a bedroom, or moving just one room.
JM: You are welcome to go back and there and look because the windows are ten feet tall. These windows that are across this front were the windows that Mrs. Jackson put in. And I wish I had been in the house. I just don’t remember. I was a little girl. I remember it being talked about. I remember Mama riding past the house to look and see. Because of course, she had lived in the neighborhood and she knew the Jackson’s quite well.
CM: Have you made any structural changes to the house?
JM: The house is exactly as it was. At one time, we were going to do something, and I got older and decided that I didn’t care. I told some young person that was talking about this house and she said, “Oh, if you ever sell the house, da de da.” And I said, “You young folks would come in and gut the back part of this house out. I know you would.” “Well why would I do that?” I said, “You wouldn’t put up with my old fashioned kitchen. I don’t have an island. You would not put up with my teeny tiny bathrooms. You would not put up with the lack of closets and storage space. I know what you would do. At one time I was young and thought about it and then I decided I didn’t care. It was fine with me.”
CM: Have you seen many changes to the neighborhood? You’ve been here since ’73?
JM: No, basically the neighborhood is really the same. The people who live in the houses of course are different. The major change was when Carol and John Tatum, when Lynn and Brian Varner bought the Myers house. Sister Bedwell’s husband had died and she didn’t want to care for such a large house. As I said, we had that vacant lot between us and they sold the lot to Carol Tatum and I lost my view. I told John one time, I was standing in his study and I said, “I can look out your window and see what I used to see. I used to be able to stand at the kitchen sink and see the front of the Methodist Church.” And Sister and I also watched, she from her upstairs bedroom window, and me from my kitchen window, there were rabbits that would dance out in that yard. And when Carol and John started the house, the rabbits moved over here. They backed into my back yard. And we’ve got dogs and we’ve lost – our rabbits left us. Our dogs didn’t get them, but they moved out of the neighborhood. And very rarely do I see a rabbit. But other than that, the neighborhood just remains fairly well the same. Everything that was here is here except for that one house.
CM: And when did they build that house?
JM: Let me see. I am going to say about fifteen or sixteen years ago. That’s a rough guess on my part.
EW: What about the alleys that runs behind all these houses?
JM: It’s called the Long Alley. And it runs all the way from Sunflower Road to – it runs behind Penny and Willard Samuel’s house, continues for about that block and then stops there. So we’ve always had the alley.
CM: Do people use it a lot?
JM: Yeah. You’d be amazed at the amount of traffic. There is, down here, I call it the Galloway House. Again, I’m using the old names. But you’ve got James Albert’s house that is on the corner of College and Leflore and then there’s another house, and then there’s the two story house. There is rental property back behind both of those. It’s a rabbit warren back up in there. And so there are folks that live on the back and they will sometimes come and go up the alley. But of course all the garbage trucks and all that kind of thing and every now and then we will see a policeman coming through as they are checking for somebody that has gotten loose from the jail. They are double checking the alley. It is quite a luxury to have an alley really.
CM: Has the rental property always been there?
JM: I can’t tell you. They’ve been there ever since I’ve been here.
EW: What about fences? Does anybody have fences around their yards? Have you always had a fence?
JM: Yeah It was here. That’s it structurally. Now the yard looks quite different than the way it did. Not the front yard. I say that. Mrs. Jackson had a lot of boxwoods planted down the front walk. And a number of them had died when we bought the property. So I dug the rest of them up and let it go solid, and the ivy that you see. But the walkway was here and you know, I guess I liked the house and it wasn’t broken so I saw absolutely no need to fix it. The back yard is quite different. Apparently at one time it had a lot of real pretty flower beds and things. Those were gone. There was not a great deal – she was quite ill when she died. And she just didn’t have the energy to do it and by 1973 there wasn’t anybody much to do it for her. So the back yard doesn’t look as it did. But essentially everything is the same. The old garage that you can’t get a model car into. Oh you can get it in there, but not if you drove a SUV. You’d be in bad shape.
EW: You couldn’t open your doors.
CM: Plan carefully (inaudible) car porch. Where did you live before you lived in this house?
JM: We lived on Maple Street. We started out on – the first house that Dana and I lived when we got married was a duplex that belonged to the Cleveland School District and it sat where Margaret Green Junior High sits and my first job was teaching school at Margaret Green. – at Cleveland High School. I could be at the breakfast table and hear the bell ring and be in my classroom within thirty seconds. They moved it, it was a duplex, and they moved it to build Margaret Green. And we moved onto North Victoria. My grandparents had lived on North Victoria. The house on the corner – it’s a dentist’s office there. What’s her name?
JM: Yeah, Ray. That was my grandmother and grandfather’s house. And we lived two doors south of there in a little house that H.L. Nowell had built. You know H.L. Nowell – the Student Union Building?
EW: Oh yeah.
JM: And Sue Martin King had lived in it before us. And Sue King is certainly somebody you need to talk to her. She is a rich repository of all things Cleveland. But anyway, they had lived in it and they had built that house and we moved into it and lived there for a couple of years and then we bought a house on Maple Street and lived there from, I guess, 1960 maybe until we moved into this house. So we have always have been in this old part of town.
EW: Was that intentional?
JM: Yeah. Very much an intentional move. I like sidewalks and trees. I lived in the country for a long time. We didn’t have sidewalks. And I thought I was pretty fancy and spiffy to have a sidewalk at my house.
EW: A pavement.
JM: Yes. Real pavement. And not just gravel roads.
EW: Do you ever have any intentions of paving your driveway?
EW: Do you like it?
EW: It’s not broken.
JM: Well, you know, I don’t think a paved driveway goes with this house. That is an intentional something on my part. It needs some slag in it right now. It’s on my list of things. I have a gravel walk in my back yard that rims the back yard that needs gravel to. Haven’t done it. I’ll get to it.
EW: In a home of this age, do you have any problems? Being an older house. Are there any differences in keeping it up as opposed to a newer house?
JM: Oh heavens yes. There’s always something wrong in an old house. You know, the ground shifts and the house settles and we have had major foundation work done. It did part of it but it didn’t do it all. It seems like there is always a door that sticks today that didn’t stick yesterday. And maybe they have those problems in newer houses. I don’t remember having them in the two newer places that I lived in. But it seems it always – I guess with a house it’s always if it’s yours. You’re always needing to call the plumber or the electrician or the somebody. They are just my best friends. So you know, if you are one of those people that when you drop something and it rolls because the floor is slanted. You know old houses are just not for you. I happen to think that the high ceilings and all the stuff is worth that the fact that the floor is not even.
CM: I notice that you have a fireplace in the living room and the dining room. Are there other fireplaces in your home?
JM: Yeah. These rooms match. The dining room and my bedroom which is behind you are identical. And there is, there was originally a chimney in the middle of the house because there is another fireplace that backs up that one. They were all gas burning fireplaces. None of them were ever intended for logs. They are very shallow. So you know from that they were not intended. The chimneys are old of course and probably – we are constantly having to have something done to them because the mortar is dried and we have to have them sealed. Because when it rains or something, water comes through where the mortar would be. It is not coming down the chimney, it is coming through the mortar. And the foundation work we had to have, was occasioned by the fact that the chimney was trying to pull away from the house and fall on Carol Tatum, which we didn’t think would be a very good idea.
CM: And she probably didn’t either.
JM: And she didn’t either. I didn’t tell her until it was all over with. I didn’t want her to worry about it. There wasn’t anything we could do. I knew we were working to finish as we could. But yeah, you don’t have that problem in a new house I don’t imagine.
EW: You would hope not.
CM: How tall are the ceilings?
JM: They are twelve feet throughout the house. With the exception of this little back room that Mrs. Jackson used as a Breakfast Room. We have a little sitting room back there and it has a nine foot ceiling. It must have been a porch or something originally and then it was enclosed. But everything else has a twelve foot ceiling. Except this hall the ceiling was dropped in it for reasons I’m not sure of. But sometime in the structural work that she did, they left the north hall with its twelve foot ceiling, but this one has a false ceiling there that workmen use to go up in the attic, when they have to go up. There’s no storage up there because of the way the house has been remodeled. But every now and then, Robinson’s Electric has to go up. We have a fan up there to blow the hot air out. They do not enjoy going. Because there are two ceilings up there. But for some reason, I guess for aesthetic purposes, she dropped that one. I don’t know why she didn’t drop the other. It hasn’t bothered me. Fine with me.
EW: You don’t have to go up there.
JM: I don’t have to go up in the attic. And I just smile sweetly and tell them that I’m paying them plenty of money. I don’t want to hear any complaints. I know I will be charged for it.
CM: Can you think of anything else we need to ask about the house?
EW: Would it be raising her children? Would that be a good question? Did you raise your children here in this home?
JM: We have one daughter and when we moved here she was eleven.
EW: She has lots of memories to acquire then.
CM: Would you mind if we took some pictures of some of the woodwork and things?
JM: No, not at all. And I was going to ask you if you wanted to walk through the house?
EW: We’d love to, thank you very much. I’m going to stop this.
END OF DOCUMENT