From the Bottom to the Top

The Old House Web

The basement wall with mortar

2during.jpg (13045 bytes)
The basement wall before...

99111108.jpg (8460 bytes)
and after repointing.
5turret.jpg (8041 bytes)
Turret foundation
5turret.jpg (8041 bytes)
Blocks added to rafters
6blocks.jpg (6535 bytes)
Sleepers attached to rafters
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Pocket door hardware9hinge.jpg (5292 bytes)
Brass hinge, awaiting restoration
attic15.jpg (3849 bytes)
Plenty of tubs and sinks
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The staircase, waiting for posts11fireplace.jpg (7047 bytes)
Fireplace insert99112316ventcover.jpg (12231 bytes)
The stone wall and household dump16yard3.jpg (8363 bytes)
The same area viewed from a back porch

Monday, January 3, 2000

In our last installment, we were replacing rotted beams and wrestling the basement and first place steps into place.

In the depths of the cellar

At the same time, the three stone masons we have on the job were busy repointing the interior wall of the basement. Three materials are needed for this, sand, cement and lime.

Lime 'softens' the mortar, allowing it to be less rigid than the stone around it. That way if the wall is heated, the cement flakes and cracks before it forces the stone to do the same.

In the first picture, the cement has been removed to an approximate depth of 2 inches.

Directly beneath that picture, you can see the stone wall with a poor job of repointing from earlier work. Note the cement covering much of the stone face.

The third picture is of the completed project, with mortar reapplied, and the stone face left exposed.

The repointing work gave me a chance to explore the foundation a little more, including the extension that supports the turret.

It appears the foundation was initially built square, with the turret section added almost as an afterthought. This same square-then-turret pattern was also apparent on the second floor in the way that the wall joists were patterned.

Now to the attic

We've also begun to frame the attic. We're hoping to keep the area completely open, but we need to install sleepers to allow for nine inches (R-30) of insulation behind the sloped ceiling.

First we added blocks to the roof rafters. These blocks will support two by four sleepers which will increase the depth of the 2 by six rafters to nine and a half inches.

Finally, we will install nine inches of insulation, leaving a one-inch baffle. This will allow air to circulate behind the insulation, letting the roof 'breathe.'

More treasure hunting

Here are some more discoveries (good ones).

Some of the original doors have been moved upstairs to be cataloged. A fifteen panel library door will once again be used for...the library! We have also found several odd sized doors for other places like the attic stairs (24" wide).

We've begun stripping the door hinges, which appear to be brass.

Now that we've found both sides of the pocket door, the original hardware may come in handy.

Tubs and sinks. We've got plenty, including a left hand and a right hand hand sideboard sink; also a wash sink and a clawfoot tub minus the feet.

We've removed the vintage-1973 wall from the top of the main staircase. The former door to the kitchen will be reclosed and that area will become our master bath.

Looking down the staircase from the upstairs, note the railing holes which match the posts I found in the basement.

I was even able to match up the small finish nails used to hold them in place with the individual 11 holes, determining which post initially came from which place. The damage to the large, square post atop the stairs will be relatively easy to repair, too, but we will need to find or reproduce the top of the railing.

We found a fireplace insert, probably for the entryway fireplace. In the adjacent kitchen cabinet, you can see some horse related paraphernalia -- blinders and buggy pieces -- which we unearthed in the yard.

The hunt moves outside

Facing northwest, you can see the accumulated trash of 30 plus years worth of dumping garbage. Adjacent to the discarded hot water heater, a three foot gap has been knocked in the wall by a tree falling at some point (the branches are still there, so it wasn't all that long ago).

This will be repaired. I'm sure most of the wall is still there, as the entire area is very rocky. We'll probably start excavating this when the weather gets warmer. The wall in places is six to seven feet tall, so we've got a LOT of material to dig out in the spring.

This is the general area that we've found the horse artifacts. From what longtime neighbors have told us, there used to be a stable here, and the rock wall may have been part of the foundation to that.

The wall was mortared together at some point, so it may indeed have been a foundation for that stable or perhaps the wall was from a garage in the 1940's. That is the memory of another longtime resident.

To see more of Steve's pictures, click here.

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