This may seem backwards, but our primary goal wasn't to move in—we've left the inside largely as it was, including the bathrooms and kitchen, and we're still fixing it up little by little. We wanted to get the property in shape to host the first annual Juneteenth Picnic at Stringfellow Orchards. Juneteenth, which originated in Galveston, commemorates June 19, 1865, the day slavery ended in the U.S.—two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Doris and I wanted all people to celebrate this day, as important in our community as the Fourth of July. To prepare, we worked on the house's exterior, rebuilding the porch, fixing columns and gingerbread trim, and getting the roof replaced. We chose a color scheme of bright white with green trim. We pruned the trees, some more than 200 years old. Slowly, the place began coming back to life.
About 600 people showed up for that first Juneteenth Picnic, and we've continued to host it every year. We put on activities for kids, a car show, and historical skits.
Shown: A local carpenter carved reproduction gingerbread and turned one new column to rebuild the termite- and water-damaged porch.