Our masonry contractor has been busy at the house. First up was the lintel over our walk-out cellar stairs. In the before picture below the lintel is mostly hidden, but if it was visible you would have seen that it was wood and it was basically splitting in two lengthwise. The before picture clearly shows the effects this was having on the stone wall above the lintel.
Below is a picture of the new lintel. It is limestone (like the rest of the house) rather than wood. Even without the pointing around it complete it looks soooooo much better!
Next up is an interior threshhold. This is between what will be our dining room and a walk-in closet/laundry room on the first floor. The threshhold is stone, but it had split in two and one part was basically falling into the basement. This was because years ago the stone wall directly under this doorway had a hole cut into it for ductwork. This doorway seemed to shift noticably just in the time we have been in the house, so we are very relieved to have this issue resolved.
And there's the chimneys. We were at the house this morning getting a quote for insulating the attic. I was standing in the living room talking with the insulation contractor when we started to hear rather loud knocks and bangs. After a little bit, the insulation guy said, "Sounds like they're trying to knock the house down for you!" So I went up to a window and looked out, just in time to see two bricks fall from the sky. "Well," I said, "I hope that's only the chimney coming down out there." Luckily, that's all it was. The mason will rebuild these chimneys for us next summer, but because there are other repointing jobs that are more pressing, for the winter they will just be capped off just above the roofline.
To the left is one of the chimneys just before it was taken down. They literally took the things apart by hand. Both chimneys were down within five mintues. So far, we are quite impressed with this masonry company. When we left they were busy (in the 34 degree weather) starting to grind out joints on the east wall of the house. The weather early next week will be back up around 60 degrees and they want to have all the prep work ready so they can start repointing as soon as the thermometer is cooperative.
I've got to say - in the midst of the ever growing "to do" list, it feels very good to see some progress being made!