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I purchased her house randomly after a series of dreams that led me back to Hyde Park, North Memphis. Unknowingly, I would begin a practice of archiving, redemption, and reclamation. Big Mama's house has become the place in its physical and metaphorical sense to--- come home. Home to a place of dignity, ownership, abundance, pride, and legacy.

As I begin to rebuild this home and the small lot of land on which my grandmother laid a foundation, I want to document and archive in hopes that if my grandchildren or great grandchildren inherit, they will not have to be in search of.

Andrea Fenise of In Search of Our Garden rebuilding Big Mama's House

This week, I’m making it official and kicking off the #BIGMAMASHOUSE series here on the blog. I will be sharing vlogs over on YouTube with behind the scenes of us working diligently to share the process, construction journey, and information that we are learning along the way as first time buyers/investors. Seeing her home in such despair conditions actually excites me. I look forward to the process of adding beauty and value to the home and the community. It is so intriguing to me. It’s like performing house surgery. You open up the walls, take a look at what’s going on inside, hope there’s no serious issues, maybe move some things around, and stitch em’ back up.

As I mentioned last week, there is a unique story I will be telling and revealing along the way. Story of reviving the past that my great grandmother created in this home and redeeming the present that counted it out with blight and misuse through the years.. and the future that lies in our hands and heart.

Andrea Fenise of In Search of Our Garden rebuilding Big Mama's House

Andrea Fenise of In Search of Our Garden rebuilding Big Mama's House

JULY 2020

Here is where we started from….

If you watched our first video in our vlog series, you saw the first thing we did was cut down the overgrown trees and shrubs to be able to see the house. There were practically years of growth. It took a crew of 3-4 of us-family of course. We also began removing trash. You guys, it was ridiculous how filthy and disgusting the home was. I found out from neighbors there were wild dogs living in the house and the animal shelter had to come and remove them. There were also drug users going in and out living in the home. When I tell you, it was a sight to see. OMG!!

After 3 days, of my husband bringing in a couple of his workers to complete trash removal, the house was clear of trash. Now, we have to call to schedule a trash container from a waste management company. The amount of debris and trash is entirely too much for City trash pickup. Unfortunately, we are waiting to schedule the pickup until we go in and remove the sheetrock and other trash to save money and prevent others from dumping their trash in the container before we dump the trash we’ve paid to dump. That’s a huge problem in Memphis. We can’t afford to have the container dropped off and the next day someone else fills it up.

Now that we can see what we are working with, Daniel and I called my friend Sophorn, who is an architect to come for a walkthrough. We wanted her to give us guidance for a redesign and also to render the plans that we have to present to the city and code enforcement for renovation and remodel. There are so many features I would like to see added to this house. I get excited just thinking about it. One we need to make a 10 foot extension to add another bedroom, two Daniel wants to open the house up breaking down walls and adding LV Beams. Lastly, I would like to make the house energy efficient and sustainable. Hopefully, adding a greenhouse in the back. All of that we needed Sophorn for.

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