The Story of The Lodge

The Lodge, circa early 1980s (estimated)

In December 2021, my uncle (my mother’s brother), Durando Miller III, known to us as Dee, died from cancer.  He was 78.  In his will, he bequeathed his beloved home on Virginia’s eastern shore to my sister Amanda and me (Tim).

Click here to view some vintage photos of The Lodge, from both before and after Dee’s purchase in 1978.

Dee bought the house and its surrounding 4 acres in 1978, at which time my grandparents, Durando Jr. and June (Bampa and Nana to me), lived in a house about 1/4 mile down the same road.   He named it The Lodge, which fit him but I’m not really sure why he chose the name.  But early on in our own ownership of the property, it became clear that this place would always be The Lodge, so we have fully adopted the name even though we’re not property-namers ourselves.

Back then, I was little at the time, and we used to visit N&B once or twice a year, and I always enjoyed those visits.  We would sometimes see Dee then too, but he was a young man and we were kids. In the early 1980s Dee married Cathy, then later divorced, then later married her again, which marriage lasted till Cathy died in 2010.  Dee was devoted to her, though (and I was removed from all this) there was strife in the family as a result.

Nana and Bampa moved away in 1985, in part because of disagreements about Cathy, and we (i.e. my mom and us kids) didn’t visit Virginia anymore.  Sometime after this, The Lodge began to fall into disrepair and became a hoard.  My wife Heidi and I visited Dee in 2011, and saw firsthand how the house had become.  I believe it became worse in the subsequent 10 years, but when Dee became sick, some friends of his intervened to get at least part of the house into reasonable condition so he could live there safely and have the help and nursing care he needed.  This work included some rough-cutting of the carefully-curated organic archway Dee had allowed to grow up over his long driveway, as well as stripping years of invasive ivy growth from the exterior of the house, as well as returning the living room, kitchen, and bathroom to reasonable and habitable condition.  This work happened during the summer of 2021, and in September, Amanda drove our mom down for a visit, not knowing at the time how near was the end.

So following his death, we knew that we would have our hands full with cleaning up the property for whatever might come next.  The property officially transferred to Amanda and me in January 2022.  With work commitments and winter weather concerns, we couldn’t plan a trip to the property till April 2022.  It came to pass that Heidi and I would go down and do the initial cleanout.  These diaries cover our progress from the getgo.  We eventually bought out Amanda’s share in December 2022 and continued with cleanup and renovation work.

April 22, 2022 – April 30, 2022
Our first trip down, with the goal of cleaning out the house as necessary.

November 11, 2022 – November 19, 2022
Our goal for this trip was to prepare the house for our habitation.

April 6, 2023 – April 22, 2023
A longer trip, with the goal of cleaning out the attic, and starting to clean up the property itself.

June 10, 2023 – June 25, 2023
Another longer trip, during which we focused mainly on outdoor work, including debris cleanup and brush cutting.

October 3, 2023 – October 22, 2023
A mainly outdoor trip, with a focus on painting the exterior of the Lodge and more brush cutting on the property.

December 2, 2023 – December 9, 2023
We scheduled this trip so we could be on hand for the installation of the new heat pumps.

March 21, 2024 – March 31, 2024
A sort of unplanned and “bonus” trip conceived in January when we learned one of the large trees near the driveway had blown down.

 

This page was first published in January 13, 2024 and last updated on April 7, 2024.