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Showing posts from January, 2010

Asbestos nightmare

Well, it had to happen. The first unexpected expense just doubled the cost of the demolition phase and made us have to remove all the ceilings upstairs. Previous owners of the house had put insulation in the attic. The insulation they chose is a flaky, powdery material, called Vermiculite, that is poured on top of the ceilings and blown into the wall cavities. Unfortunately in those days they knew nothing about asbestos. So, when we got the material tested and it turned out to be 2% asbestos, Frank the asbestos guy told us we had to remove it all. Although this stuff was primarily in the attic it had fallen down into the walls on the first floor and even made its way to the ground floor. There was only one solution to get rid of it. To remove all of the lath and plaster walls and take the first floor back to the studs. Now, the good news is that this allowed us to really see all of the details and structures of the house. The plaster walls we had planned to keep had to be

new camera...better photos

I wanted to get better pictures of the house so I got a better camera today. Re-took a lot of the photos in previous blog pages. Click on 'older' below and see the improvement in the pix (the originals are 10 mega pix and too big for the blog). Here are some new, higher resolution images. 1) Original window details 2) Bent window sill 3) uncovered wall paper 4) more tobacco found 5) Odd piece of tree that is part of the jambless fire place in the kitchen

State of shock

As we progress through the demolition phase, I knew we would have that moment where you feel you've done more damage than good. I think we hit that point yesterday. We have been away for a few days so when we returned almost all of the upstairs had been gutted (as the plans had stated and as we requested!!!). However the reality of this was a little shocking, and exhilarating . Opening the upstairs landing is a great move (pic above). It feels like the right thing to do and I think we can squeeze a door into the master bedroom at the far end. There are signs that the closets that we have just taken out of the guest bedroom were not original as we can see the wood blocking for the wall in what would have been it's original location. On one side of the upstairs we have taken out all finishes, back to the stone wall and it looks clean, wonderful and elegant. You can clearly see the original base boards (just planks of wood) and the top of the stone wall which has old plaster

Home is where the hearth is

Yesterday, Daniel and I went to the house and measured the kitchen to make more accurate drawings. Where the wall divided the kitchen we could see the remains of the old jamless hearth. We pulled away some of the flooring to reveal a brick and bluestone hearth under the vinyl. It still looked as if someone had recently made a fire on it. By the time we got back today the wall between the two kitchen rooms, all of the ceilings and the surround of the new window in the kitchen had all been completely removed. It was a dramatic difference. One large span across with two amazing beams. (Revealing some challenges and some wonders). On the left side of the kitchen, as you walk in the back door, is a wonderful wide panelled wainscot that the wall (between the kitchens) was built over. A little damaged in the wall construction but still a fine specimen. Judging by the integration with the doors on the same wall it is likely that this was built in 1765 when the kitchen was added.

Musings on Muntins

DeJoux House is not your average pre-Revolutionary War stone house. Usually they are dark and have low ceilings. We are lucky the bottom of the beams are 6ft 8in from the floors and the ceilings are about 8 ft. Our new kitchen (two rooms knocked together - left) has 5 windows in it and there are a total of 12 windows on the ground floor. Obviously some of these windows were added over time. The question became which ones were the originals? In one of the early tax lists (1798, I think) I saw that the house was listed as having 7 windows. The 1870 Jesse Elting photo helps a little here as it shows one window (upstairs) and 4 windows at the front of the house. By studying the frames and the surrounds of these windows versus the others, I have been able to identify some of the features of what I believe are the older windows. OLD (period 1) vs.NEW (period 2) 1) All of the older windows are 12 panes over 8 and have thicker muntins between the panes of glass. 2) On the outside, the

Calling all Military Minds

One of the amazing things about owning a house that is 270 years old is that with every turn there is a mysterious fact about the house that needs investigating. Ken, one of the partners of Eight Point Construction (who incidentally are doing a fabulous job and keeps an incredibly clean building site) asked me what I knew about the history of the house. He pointed out a feature that I'd noticed but not put much thought to. The front porch, that is a new (ish) addition, somewhere between the 1870 Jesse Elting photo and the 1940 Irma DeWitt photo , has a large round stone acting as the first step to the porch. Initially I thought this was a grind stone. On the floor of the porch, among the blue stone flagstones, is what I thought was a small round river stone. Ken told me he thought the small round stone was in fact a cannonball. He had hit it with a hammer and sure enough it gave a ring of metal on metal. He then pointed out that the big round stone was NOT a grind sto