I had tracked down a number for a William Hatcher, hoping he might be the original owner and namesake. I held onto the number for almost two weeks before I got up the nerve to call. A female answered the phone and I introduced myself, stated that I was looking for William Hatcher, and explained that I was purchasing a home in Jacksonville called the Hatcher House. The responsive “ooooooh!” let me know I had the right number. Mrs. Hatcher called for Mr. Hatcher to come to the phone, and after a brief conversation he offered to meet us at the house in a few days. As an unexpected bonus, Mrs. Hatcher said that she had some original photos of the home!

Richard, Patricia, Jorge and I had already arrived at the house when Mr. and Mrs. Hatcher pulled up followed by their son. We spent a wonderful hour or so wandering the house with them, asking questions, and listening to stories and reminisces. Their son’s stories were my favorite because he remembers the home through the eyes of a child, and I thought of all the fun our kids would have living here.

Mr. Hatcher told us that the massive wall speaker, my favorite feature of the house because it’s this colossal surprise behind this demure screen door, he built! The strange wee trapdoor under the stairs was finally explained as well – the cats stayed under the stairwell at night. He showed us the approximate site of the well, discussed site and construction details with Patricia, and chuckled about the shipbuilder who somehow single-handedly replaced a twisting yellow pine beam under a 12’x12’ sheet of glass. Mrs. Hatcher showed us her scrapbook with newspaper clippings and photos of the place during and after construction.

Their son was kind enough to send us color copies of all of the photos and clippings, and I sent a thank you note to the Hatchers for the gift of their time and memories. Their stories and presence at the house were exhilarating and also sobering regarding the work that lies ahead.