Friday, January 5, 2007

More Bad News.

Once the foyer was opened up it was time to start pealing back the layers until I was down to plaster walls. Visions of hidden trim quickly died - it was all ripped out, but just enough was scattered to give me something to replicate. At least I knew what was there. Two layers of paneling later I found plaster. But it was not was I was hoping for. Some of it came off with the paneling and what remained on the walls was just not going to be salvageable. I'd say at least 50% had broken away from the lath and you could literally push it back and forth gingerly, otherwise it too would break off. What was solid had glue all over it and I knew would not survive the glue removal.

What followed was a month long plaster party - and when I was done I was ready to get plastered! This would have definitely qualified for an episode of Dirty Jobs. I was able to get egg boxes from Genaurdis - which were heavy duty, had handles, and when filled were just light enough to still carry. How many does it take you ask?? Well a rough calculation was about 250 boxes for the first floor! And it took me several months to unload em - they were stacked everywhere....




Check out those walls - 12 inches of stone, with 1 inch furring strips to mount the lath.

The bittersweet side of taking down the plaster was that now I could "easily" get this place well insulated and bring the systems up to the 21st century. Another reason it turned out to be a good idea was cause this place was a fire in the making. You wouldn't believe the wiring they buried in this place. When the foyer wall was added - the original light switches to right of the column divide were taken out, pigtailed to the original knob & tube wires with aluminum (another great idea from the 70's!) romex wire, then fished under the floor, drilled 6 holes through the hardwood floors and up into the new wall. Then just pushed it all in the wall and plastered and paneled over it. Everybody is an electrician.....

OK class..... how many code violations can you find??

Oh yea, they buried the ceiling light wiring too. Once everything was down I was happy to find that this place was well built. Now I knew why this place hardly settled in 100 years. Another interesting find was this house was originally built with gas and electric lighting. A very cool find. During the late 1800's into the early 1900's gas was still the primary lighting source, but a new technology was developing and soon would take over gas completely - electricity. In the early days of electricity, service was still not very reliable. So some houses at this time installed both, and would have light fixtures that included both gas lights and electric bulbs together. They called these transitional fixtures and were only common for maybe a 10-15 year period at best. Of course as service became more reliable, this fixtures were discarded, the gas capped, and electric only took it's place. My plan is definitely to find and put some of these back in the house, but will wire the gas with flicker style bulbs.... a bit safer!

note the gas line and knob & tube wires going to same point

gas/electric fixture for foyer - before restoration

Along with the foyer I gutted the stairwell, which was probably the toughest part of the demo. Besides the logistics of getting to the upper reaches, it was really impossible to isolate it from the rest of the house. For about the next 4 months you could write your name on any given surface, even up in the 3rd floor.

Look like fun?

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