Friday, February 27, 2009

A note from Virginia

Today I am not posting a painting...but rather an email that I recieved from Virginia Robertson. I met Virginia at the Carol Marine Workshop, and she bought two of my paintings. I asked her where the painting were, and here is her response: (I love it!) Above is a photo of the students at the Carol Marinei Workshop in Salado, Texas.

The paintings are in my home near Jewett, in Leon County, TX. My husband and I live in the old "George Washington Carver" school, a black-only school built in 1940. It was a 6 classroom school, 1st-12th grade (2 grades per classroom), with additional buildings for a cafeteria and workshop. A gymnasium/auditorium was added to the school complex in 1953. The school remained in operation through 1967, being closed 1-year prior to forced integration. The old school property was completely abandoned by the early 1970's. My husband noticed the property in 1980 and researched its history and ownership. It was public school land still owned by the State of Texas. He eventually convinced the State to offer the property for public sale to the highest bidder. Although the sealed bid sale was advertised throughout the country (even in the Wall Street Journal), we were the only bidder. In 1982, we bought the old school property for a potential business site. My husband was hired as science teacher for the local school and he began renovation of the gymnasium for our "new" home. I moved to the gym in early 1983 with our 2 children (ages 2 mos. and 18 mos.) The boys and girls locker rooms, located under the gym bleachers, were converted to standard living quarters (3 bdm.,2 bath, kitchen and living room). The gymnasium, with original hardwood floor, basketball court boundary lines and 1 basketball hoop, remained unchanged and served as a giant playroom for adults and kids. The school rooms were renovated for my husband's part-time (and eventually full-time) businesses, including an exotic edible mushroom farm, scientific laboratory and environmental consulting company. We later added a second floor to our living quarters by enclosing the elevated level where the bleachers were formerly located, and enclosed the auditorium stage area across from the gym. We expanding our home to a 5 bdm., 4.5 bath, with 2 kitchens, living room and game room, still with a regulation-sized gymnasium in the middle. After adding a swimming pool and 7-hole, 3-par golf course in the yard, our home was likened to a resort. We jokingly call it "Club Rob", a take-off of "Club Med", and referencing our last name of "Robertson". In 1998, we were featured on "Extreme Homes" on HGTV. The program director said our home "qualified" as "extreme" because we lived in a gym, had a yard golf course, and a large salt-water aquarium built in the master shower. One of my husband's hobbys is guitar/music - we added a home concert hall to the gym last year for him. He is currently building an art studio for me in the school, where your 2 paintings will be displayed.


  1. Virginia is so interesting and I can just imagine her in such a place! Since meeting her at the Carol Marine workshop I have also corresponded with her. She is a HOOT. I think we all thought she was a stand up comic when we first met her. She continues to make everyone laugh and smile with her very sharp wit and genuine warmth. Her home fits her personality. Can't wait to meet her husband some time. I'll bet he is a scream too.

  2. Maybe we could look it up on a past episode of "Extreme Homes"....or even better, maybe we could take a road trip to Jewett, Texas and see the house for ourselves! That would be a fun time!!!