18 February 2010

snow trekking

So last Wednesday when we were unofficially snowbound at the farm I set out exploring the property on foot in the afternoon (after I painted all day). The speed of progress has increased slightly as they are currently installing the last of the kitchen cabinetry. Now if I only had my office set up! The picture of the sunrise above is one of the contributing factors to the move to the country. I could never see the sunrise (or set) in town.

The old milk can is in an area that is graded down to the creek and is believed to be the original ford for the pioneer family from the Michigan Road to their farm, long before the county road was constructed. I believe this area became a rubbish pile for the subsequent generations of the pioneer family. Below are three buggy wheel rims near a small stand of ancient cottonwood trees.

16 February 2010

Historic Perspective

Well, we are no where near being settled into the new place. I estimate another 3-4 weeks of interior renovations with the kitchen cabinets being slated for installation mid-week next week. The walls are up and painted in our entry, office and kitchen locations with light fixtures hung. Only doors and trim need to be added. After those areas are finished we'll switch our attention to the dining and living rooms which currently look only slightly better than tenement housing.

Regardless, we are finally getting to enjoy the property. I frequently take the dog on a walk around the pastures and barnyard. I have several pictures from the "big" snow we had last week that I will post soon. We had asked the previous owner, whose family had been in ownership of the property for over 150 years, if they had any old photos of the place and they sent two to us last night.

The earliest picture (above) seems to date to about 1900. It would be to this appearance we plan to restore the house. Oddly enough the door is not in the center and there doesn't appear to be a second mirrored door to the front door's left. This is pretty uncommon for a Greek Revival styled I-house. The styling is fairly reserved, but the wide trim boards seen at the eave line all still exist beneath the current siding. You can also seen how on the right side of the house there was an open porch that was enclosed in about 1930. Our renovation plans keep the porch enclosed (it's our dining room) but will change the exterior appearance to make it look more open with columns and tall windows. The cedar trees in front of the house appear to be about 20 years old in this photo, placing their planting in about 1880. 130 year lifespan for cedars is pretty long and they still appear to be doing fine.

The later picture appears to date to about 1940, probably just after the insul-brick installation on the house. The current picture was taken last fall. Interesting how these are all from the same basic perspective to the southwest of the house. I know I shot the one picture from this point of view due to the cedar trees; I assume that was the logic for the others.

03 February 2010

After the move but still not settled

Fortunately the kids' rooms upstairs were finished in time for the move. It gives great inspiration on how to finish the rest of the house.

The framing for the kitchen, laundry and my office went up on Friday before the move. While I'm typing they are finishing hanging drywall in this old house. They also found that there was no insulation in my office outside wall. That's been corrected and is warming up nicely.

This is our make-shift kitchen that will be in operation until about February 24. The other pictures show the dire need to get settled in. I think living out of boxes is a bit nerve-racking. So is the constant drilling and sawing.

Moving Day

Moving day arrived on Saturday, January 30. Within three hours we had loaded and moved our whole house. A large truck with a hydraulic lift was brought in to assist with a piano, refrigerator and very large dresser. More than a dozen friends (or suckers depending on how you look at it) participated in the fun and all they got out of it were sloppy joes for lunch.

02 February 2010

"found things" during the renovation

So I thought I would share some of the interesting things that we found during the renovation project. The top photo was a "before" of the dining room. When we pulled the paneling off the walls, a chunk of plaster and wallpaper fell from the chimney enclosure. Where did the chimney go? So I poked around a little and decided to unbox the chimney and found this original c. 1855 chimney support. Yes, it's staying. It matches the one in the living room.

The contractor found both this letter opener (or murder weapon) and these cork top bottles in the crawl space beneath the original summer kitchen.

I love this. We found this cardboard box label under the loose linoleum flooring in the dining room. We saved several of these. I believe they date to about 1949, because the movie that John Deere produced and provided tickets for (see below) was released in 1949. The tickets were also found under the linoleum.

This "spike" was found down inside the chimney enclosure wall. Not sure how it got there.

Do you notice a theme with the old wallpaper for a background? The wallpaper below is a patriotic theme and actually is pretty cool. Most of this style of paper is in pretty poor condition, but there is a section (one wall) that is in pretty good shape in our entry. I told the contractor to preserve it today despite my wife's facial expressions. Pez? No way! Mental note: don't try to eat 9 year old Pez no matter how tired and hungry you are at 11:00 p.m.

Prep for "the Move"

Does this look like a spooky old abandoned house? Welcome home to Sycamore Hill. We've officially made the move, regardless of completion. This is the first of a few posts on the move. This is the week leading up to the official moving day. We had many friends turn out to help paint, demo, pack, clean and move. How incredibly blessed we are.

The plaid shirt guy dared me on Sunday, the first day of hell week, to jump off a beam in the barn into a pile of hay. This was dumb for me to do. I walked around (moved, painted, etc.) with a gimp leg all week. But in return he worked with me side by side every night, sometimes until midnight, getting the house ready.

This was load No. 1 of 9 loads on Friday that preempted the big move this past Saturday. When all was said and done our kids bedrooms, upstairs play room, bathroom and our bedroom were all finished and the other rooms in the house were either stripped of paneling, carpet or goofy walls removed prior to the Saturday move. 7 total days. Now I know how God must've felt.

This was the state of affairs in our house the week leading up to the big move:

Gafill Oil Company in Argos

My great-grandfather (above) may have started our family in the fuel business with his employment as the agent for an oil company in ...