The Garfield House



This house –looking here like a cross between fairytale doom and a Christmas cookie— is called the Garfield House. It was built in 1904 by arts-and-crafts spearheads Greene and Greene for Lucretia Garfield, the former first lady and widow of the 20th President, James A. Garfield, following the commander-in-chief’s assassination in office in 1881.

My family and I have lived within its mysterious and comforting frame for nine years; and not only have our children both come into their own here, but I personally have experienced (as I know Melanie has) a most particular creative awakening that could not and would not have happened elsewhere.

The recording studio that I have run down in the basement –the very space where Mrs. Garfield’s kitchen had originally been installed, and where her cooks lived— has seen a staggering array of artists/musicians pass through its doors in just-shy-of-a-decade; and, along with hosting the manifestations of 3 Grammy-winning albums, has been witness to much holy ruckus…

From Mose Allison and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, to Solomon Burke, Jimmy Scott, Allen Toussaint, and Rodney Crowell; from Loudon Wainwright, Meshell Ndegeocello, Aaron Neville, and Mary Gauthier, to Kris Kristofferson, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Over the Rhine, Jakob Dylan, The Milk Carton Kids, and John Doe. From Lizz Wright, Bill Frisell, and Van Dyke Parks, to Bonnie Raitt, Glen Hansard, and the Carolina Chocolate Drops; Lucinda Williams, Chris Hillman, Bettye LaVette and T Bone Burnett, etc.

In all, we have heard a great many songs conjured; have had love deeply affirmed, and much truth ratified.

Most importantly, there has been the on-going brother-/sisterhood of my dearest friends, without whom none of this communion could ever have been realized; and that steadfast gang includes Jay Bellerose, Jennifer Condos, Greg Leisz, Patrick Warren, David Piltch, Levon Henry, and Ryan Freeland (without whom this joint would have been nothing but a groovy clubhouse); Chris Bruce, Marc Ribot, Doyle Bramhall, Jean McClain, Julian Cubillos, Eric Heywood, and Keefus Ciancia.

The Garfield has offered me an on-going masters program, and one from which I never fully imagined graduating; but alas, it is time to pack up and move on from it, to reset the table; to turn a page with my beloved for the next chapter yet to be written.

And as we make ready for our exodus and transition, it is with both melancholy and profound gratitude.

Who knows what we shall next discover?

Joe Henry