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Archive for the ‘Demolition’ Category

We’re really late on posting these photos (they’re from over a month ago, before we moved in on November 1), but thought you might want to see just what we went through to get our sewer pipe running. They cut a giant hole in our street!

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Found!

Old Friend

Old Friend

The barn-board sheathing of our 1874 house has some gaps in it and apparently sometime around 1914 someone figured that pasting up newspapers would keep the howling winter winds out of the place. In prepping the sheathing for spray foam insulation, we found some great stuff. Here are a couple of gems.

Business card of Douglas B. Grundy, Illustrative Photographer. Shown is the Mount Washington Hotel and Cog Railway in NH.

Business card of Douglas B. Grundy, Illustrative Photographer. Shown is the Mount Washington Hotel and Cog Railway in NH.

December 6, 1914 edition of the Boston Sunday Herald. An ad for an educational children's book.

December 6, 1914 edition of the Boston Sunday Herald. An ad for an educational children's book.

Inset of ad for Book of Knowledge. I think this tells us how long it will take the steam trains of the future to reach the respective heavenly bodies of our solar system!

Inset of ad for Book of Knowledge. I think this tells us how long it will take the steam trains of the future to reach the respective heavenly bodies of our solar system!

We also found some great old piano music. I will add to this post as I get time to scan more!

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The Horseman Strikes Gold!

medal_brand_ready_roofing

The Horeseman found this nugget while tearing up the kitchen floor. It is “floor paper” which was laid under the planks and this label (about 10″ by 12″) is of the C.M. Rice Paper Company in Portland, Maine which, upon Googling, still exists here today on Exchange Street in the Old Port. This discovery helps to date the first addition of the house to the late 1800’s (this label commemorated (weirdly) the company’s first 38 years: 1854-1892.

I wonder if the new addition included a bathroom, assuming Munjoy Hill received indoor plumbing around 1900, 25 years after our house was built.

Bigger version of the label is here and a giant version is here.

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Now that we’re down to zero, having dismantled Everything, these are the official “Demo is Done” videos. The third installment in our video tours. Here is the downstairs and here is the upstairs. Format is mp4 (Quicktime player should handle it on Windows and Mac OS.

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Day 35: Oh, Rats!

I found several noteworthy artifacts in the ceilings and walls as I demolished our house: in the living room ceiling was a pair of century-old solder boxes, the labels anchored by the likeness of a hearty Dutchman; upstairs, a baseball card from 1958- Dave Philley of the Philadelphia Phillies; not far from Dave were some slugs. (Not the mollusk kind, though that would have been preferable. No, these were spent bullets from a .32). In the later additions, I found snack relics from the 80s: an old-style Doritos bag, a Hostess Crumb Cake package, a polaroid photo, an unsent letter from a girl to a boy.

Dave PhilleyIn several places along where the floors joined the walls, under the building materials, were old garments stuffed into gaps in the wood, presumably to keep drafts out. These were very old clothes: sweaters with cloth-covered buttons and lacy shirts. In the old dining room I even uncovered a long-sealed window and door that had been built over many decades ago.

There was something, though, that I found in each and every room. Almost always near the joint of ceiling-and-wall or wall-and-floor, were concentrations of moist, black litter, shavings and powdery, ashy stuff and even bits of the aforementioned clothing. And of course rodent feces. Downstairs, near the chimney, was what appeared to be a mouse condo: a multi-level wonderland in the walls of the dining room closet. A pair of nests perched in a vertical stud in the wall separating the bathroom from the bedroom and many nests littered the edges of the kitchen and living room.

From what I could tell, the mouse nests were long-abandoned. In fact, I found no live creatures of any variety during the entire demolition. It wasn’t until I was pulling down the last layer of dining room ceiling that I learned who these former tenants had really been. Upon pulling down a hunk of ceiling plaster, I saw a dusty object just a few inches in. I got the usual excited feeling that maybe here was another old-time relic to add to my collection of found objects. I then proceeded to pull from the ceiling a giant, preserved rat! I yelled into my respirator and flung the rat across the room.

Former Resident.

Former Resident.

When I could make myself, I went over and examined it. It was perfectly mummified and the entire hide was intact though hard a a rock. The bony tail, 8-10 inches long, reminded me of the larger rats I’d seen on NYC subway tracks. Then the reality washed over me that all the nests I had seen scattered throughout the house had most likely belonged to rats! Giant rats! Later, as I pulled the rest of that dining room ceiling down, skeletal rat remains cascaded from the other side of the plaster. Skulls, spines, hip bones. I came across more remains in the kitchen ceiling, but no more mummy rats.

It occurred to me later that the handgun slugs in the bedroom wall may have been someone’s last-ditch effort to get some sleep one night. These things would have made some serious noise.

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I think I might be more excited about it if Nick hadn’t just told me that it looks like one of the exterior walls is about to fall down.

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I created a whole separate tab on this blog for floor plans because I wanted  to give you an idea of where we’re starting with the house plans and where we hope to end up. I’ll start with the original downstairs floor plan:

Original downstairs floor plan

Original downstairs floor plan

So what’s changed? Well, now, Day 33 of the demo, we’ve taken out the kitchen stairs and all the walls of what seemed to be an old laundry room. We took out most of the long wall dividing the kitchen from the “porch,” though we had to keep some of it because it’s a load-bearing wall. We’re going to hold the whole thing up with a beam of laminated veneer lumber, or LVL, which is stronger than traditional lumber and used for headers and in other load-bearing capacities. The strange, 3-part wall dividing the porch from the living room is also gone. The image below has X’s through the now demolished walls:

Downstairs demo'ed

Downstairs demo'ed

And now for the exciting part: our plans for the downstairs:

Downstairs plans

Downstairs plans

You can see that removing the kitchen stairs, though it was a difficult decision, has opened up more space for the kitchen appliances and cabinets. I think this was a good idea, given that the whole house is only 1150 square feet. We need all the space we can get. There will be a small pantry area off the kitchen, and then a very efficient half-bath. We plan on using the toilet Nick got for $15 from a local carpenter who was doing a renovation on the East End (eww, I know, don’t be grossed out, we’ll clean it all up and buy a new seat). We’re hoping to salvage a sink at the Habitat Restore, and then we’ll just paint up the bathroom and make it all look nice. It will just be the plumbing that will cost a pretty penny, but I’m quite sure we’re going to want that half -bath.

A couple of other things to note: Though these plans don’t show it, we are going to bring the main stairwell up to code, giving it human-sized treads, not short ones made for those with cloven-hooves, and we’re going to stretch out the pitch of the stairwell so it won’t give us vertigo while climbing up and down it. That means the bottom of the stairs will turn out at the wall where the “other” front door is currently, which means we will probably have to replace that door with a window. We’re waiting to find out if having only one point of egress would put us out of code. (It makes me kind of nervous even if it doesn’t, to be honest.)

Also, we’re still trying to figure out what to do with that wall between the porch and the living room. We want a simple and natural entryway leading from one room to the next, but we also need a real entryway from the outdoors, a place to take off our boots, hang up our coats, and drop off the mail and keys. Like I said, it’s a small house–there’s no room for a grand entrance, or even a walled off entryway. It’s going to be tricky trying to figure that one out.

Now for the really exciting transformation: the upstairs! Here’s the original layout:

Original floor plan upstairs

Original floor plan upstairs

We took out the wall between our bedroom and the 3rd bedroom, took out the 3rd bedroom’s closet, and of course, the stairwell landing is gone. It’s now just a big hole. I guess when I say we “took out the wall” I should add that the studs are still there, it’s just the two layers of drywall, the several layers of wallpapers, and the lath and plaster that are gone, in addition to the old decaying insulation in the exterior walls. Again, X marks the spots of the demo:upstairsdemo

And now, the plans! We’re going to move the bathroom into the far corner of the upstairs, where the attic stairs used to be. Then we’re going to turn the old bathroom into our walk-in-closet! Can’t wait for that one. Sadie’s bedroom will stay the same size and shape. We’ll put a little laundry room just to the right of the bathroom where the old stair landing used to be.

upstairsplan

It will all be connected by that groovy slanted hallway I designed. We’re hoping we can add some daylighting to the bathroom and hall closet with SolaTubes, but that might not be in this year’s budget. SolaTubes are these great sunlight capturing devices that direct light down a mirrored tube that snakes through your attic, ending in a little opening that sort of looks like recessed lighting. The sunlight is then distributed more evenly and intensely than a skylight, so it’s almost as bright as having an electrical light on. One of our overarching goals with the Greening of 58 Turner is to bring as much natural light into the house as possible. This has the added benefit of reducing our use of electricity.

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