The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Columns

March 23, 2013

Jim Bailey: ‘Coffin house’ was really prelude to air-conditioning

I’ve noted some discussion of late on the Facebook “If you grew up in Anderson” site about the so-called “coffin house” in Park Place.

The house is diagonally across from where I live, directly east of what was then the Park Place United Methodist Church, now Second Chance Baptist. During the second half of the 20th century it was adorned with a green-colored coffin-shaped contraption at its peak that made for some pretty tall tales around the city.

One story had it that the owner wanted to ensure he would not be buried beneath the ground and instead had his remains placed atop his home. Some believed the place was haunted.

At any rate it became quite a conversation piece. People would drive past just to take a look at it. That kept the stories alive as well.

I watched it come down a decade or two ago when the roof was replaced, and there was absolutely nothing inside. Turned out it had an entirely different purpose.

The name J.J. Toops graced the original front steps. Herb Toops, who I understand grew up in that house, was a tinsmith. My earliest memories of the house do not include the coffin, and I’m told he fabricated the thing in his shop, so I imagine he installed it there himself during those years.

It seems the box’s purpose was to cool the home in the hot Anderson summers. It was a homemade ventilation system, and apparently there was a huge fan on the upper floor that pulled air through the box to provide a cooling effect.

The Sylvester family lived there during our early years. They looked into removing it but discovered it involved a major reconstruction project.

Eventually, after the Sylvesters moved out, it was apparent a re-roofing would be necessary. The “coffin” was dismantled during that time.

So don’t come by the house expecting to see a coffin on the roof. It isn’t there anymore. That bit of Park Place legend is now confined to the history bin and revived only in our memories.

Innovation, however, has replaced quite a few such novelties that may actually have been ahead of their time. Most homes nowadays have air conditioning of some degree, lots of times whole-house. And today’s heating systems achieve top efficiency in taking care of the winter months, making the old coal-fired systems of yesteryear nothing but another string of recollections.

Our home, on the other hand, would be difficult to cool completely with a single AC unit. But its construction, with 10-foot ceilings on the main floor, keeps us comfortable during most of the summer except for the hottest days.

But don’t expect us to experiment with anything on the order of a coffin on the roof. We’ll stick with what we have.

  • In last week’s column, the final score of the 1951 Attucks-Anderson game should have been 81-80. My bad.

Jim Bailey’s reflections on Anderson’s past appear on Sunday. His regular column appears on Wednesday. He can be reached by email at jameshenrybailey@earthlink.net.

1
Text Only
Columns
  • underwood mug [Duplicate] [Duplicate] Scott Underwood: Headlines can capture imagination I'd just left the newspaper office one morning and was driving north on Jackson Street, when I stopped at a red light and glanced at the rearview mirror.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Charo Boyd: 'My Social Security' simplifies your life So many people buzz through extremely busy and complicated schedules these days. A smartphone in one hand, a computer in front of you, and a digital task list that never seems to end. In addition, to complicate things just a little more, there’s another event you need to add to your list — National Simplify Your Life week.

    July 28, 2014

  • Maureen Hayden: 9/11 Commission chair scolds Congress for national security failures Retired Congressman Lee Hamilton has warned of the perils of political ideology, calling the body where he spent 34 years “noxiously partisan.” Now, he worries the divide is downright dangerous.

    July 27, 2014

  • Vaughan, Nancy mug [Duplicate] Nancy Vaughan: Fireworks and fireflies mean summer in full swing Hasn't July been a fabulous month? It began with multiple fireworks venues and parades and ends with fairs and football in full swing. We have been blessed with mild weather and if you haven't had to travel much outside of the county, roadwork has been minimal.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ken de la Bastide: City unions go without contracts for many years How Anderson deals with unions has changed dramatically over the years. In the past it would have been unheard of for union members to continue to work without a contract or an agreed upon deadline. But members of three unions that represent Anderson city employees have been working without a new contract agreement for up to seven years.

    July 26, 2014

  • Jim Bailey: Traveling by passenger train was a page from the past My wife doesn’t remember riding on a full-fledged passenger train as a baby. Our children have never ridden. It’s an experience rapidly going the way of the horse and buggy and the stagecoach throughout a nation now obsessed with jumbo jets and sport-utility vehicles.

    July 26, 2014

  • Howard Hewitt: When it comes to wines, small can be very good Repeating the familiar is an easy way to go through life as is taking the safe road. We all do that but find unexpected rewards when taking the path less traveled. That little bit of philosophy applies to visiting wine country.

    July 26, 2014

  • Maleah Stringer: Hats off to the staff at Animal Protection League I often talk about the wonderful volunteers and community support we have at the Animal Protection League. And that volunteers are every non-profits "life blood" this is true for the Animal Protection League as well.

    July 26, 2014

  • Clark, Big Joe mug 'Big Joe' Clark: Beat the market or meet your goals? True or not, my experience tells me that goals – especially when written down – undoubtedly serve as catalysts for success. However, danger arises when a goal does not properly focus on the long term result you expect.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Verna Davis: Seek peace by turning from evil and doing good There's something we all want: peace. World peace. Family peace. Personal peace. We yearn for peace, a feeling of freedom from commotion and antagonism, of harmony in our relationships, of lack of strife or dissension. What would we do to have peace in our lives?

    July 25, 2014

Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium
Front page
Poll

Do you plan to attend one of the public sessions about the Mounds Lake reservoir project?

Yes
No
Not sure yet
     View Results