This is the walkway that Einstein walked on his way to visit his friend and colleague, Oswald Veblen, who lived here with his wife Elizabeth. When Elizabeth died in 1972, she donated the farmstead to Mercer County. The Veblens had previously donated the land known as Herrontown Woods to the county, and their desire was to see the house and cottage be turned into a nature center.
Local arborist Bob Wells lived in the house for some 25 years, and raised his family there. But after Bob moved out, the house was left boarded up and empty. Vandalism and neglect have taken their toll, but people have come forward of late to help stabilize its condition and find a new use for the house and farmstead.
The first step is to dry out the basement, which means improving drainage around the house. The copper roof gutters are long since gone, and downpours deposit great amounts of water next to the foundation.
This past weekend, Josh and Liz helped extend a ditch for carrying water away from the house.
Meanwhile, Madeline and I worked to spread black plastic over the dirt crawlspace, to serve as a vapor barrier and hopefully keep the floor joists a little drier. Not exactly glamorous work, but a little cooler than most activities in this fiercely hot weather.
The next step will be changing the contour of the ground around the house, so that runoff from all the land sloping towards the house can be routed away. That may take help from a county crew with a backhoe.