Monday, December 20, 2010

You're Gonna Wind Up Where You Started From

I’ve been pondering the east wall in our living room. This is the wall where we took out a closet added by the previous owners. (See the second half of this post from Nov. 2009.)  This is also the wall that originally had a window facing out on the former side porch. That window was closed in by the previous owners when they enclosed the porch to expand the bathroom. But we still have most (all?) of the walnut trim from the original window.  If you go back and read that post from Nov. 2009  notice that at the end I wrote we were "still trying to figure out what to do about baseboard".

Well, this is what the wall currently looks like:

Um, yeah, we're still trying to figure out what to do about baseboard.  Putting baseboard up sounds easy enough, but in reality it’s posing something of a problem. The pictures below are recycled from a post last April.  They show a before and an almost after of some baseboard on the south wall of the living room:

Notice that the paneled area under the window takes the place of the baseboard. Although we saved all of the baseboard we removed from the east wall, because that wall originally had a window (with a full paneled bottom) there is not enough of the original baseboard to now cover the entire length of the wall. Thus the problem.

Despite having access to two woodworking shops, it appears that successfully recreating the profile of the molding at the top of the current baseboard is going to be something of a challenge. And there’s also the problem of what wood to use for the new baseboard. I’m semi-confident that we can match the color of the EH’s existing wood but matching the old lumber's grain is a bit more difficult.

If we put back up the original baseboard I’m worried we will wind up with a piecemeal effect – two short sections of the original walnut and a third newer section (that, for the reasons explained above, I fear would stick out like curly fretwork in a Frank Lloyd Wright house). The other option is to recreate the entire length of baseboard in one piece of new wood – but we would still have to find a way to match the existing baseboard's color, grain and profile before I would be willing to do this.

Now, even though actual work on the house has basically been at a standstill for the last few months, the planning and plotting in my head never stops. And so, after six months of living with a baseboardless wall, I’ve come up with two other options for dealing with this dilemma.

The first possibility occurred to me a couple of months ago when I noticed the picture at right while flipping through This Old House magazine.

Hmmmm…Our wall had a window in it originally. And like I mentioned before, we still have most (all?) of the original trim from that window. What if we put back up the original window trim, bottom panel and all, and simply replace the actual ‘window’ part with a mirror? If we did, then the remaining original pieces of baseboard should be enough to complete the wall. Hmmmmm…….

After pondering this idea for a few months I’m still not sure if I like it or not. I do like the fact that it would put more of the beautiful original walnut back into the room. And it would create a focal point. But I worry that as a focal point it would draw attention to a feature that has obviously been altered from its original appearance. After all, even if we put the trim back up we can not recreate the depth of the original window. And would a single, solid mirror look misplaced next to three other 12-paned windows?

Then while browsing the houseblogs site I noticed this "Faux Fireplace" entry at Petworth Row House. And I thought, "Hmmmmm…..". Using the existing trim pieces from the former window, I suspect that we could make a mantel that would blend perfectly with the rest of the room. Couple that with an electric fireplace insert and we could really dress up that east wall. And with a fireplace eating up a good chunk of the wall space, the original remaining baseboard would be enough to finish the job. I’ve always felt that a fireplace is the one feature that seems to be ‘missing’ from the Einsel House. (And based on how often visitors ask, "So where is the fireplace?" it’s obvious that I’m not alone in my feelings on this matter.)

But, but, but…an electric fireplace insert?!?! Am I in my right mind? In the kitchen I wouldn’t think twice, that room has already been altered way beyond its original condition. But the living room still exudes vintage 1840’s charm. We might be able to create a mantel that would not spoil that authentic feel, but what about the rest of the fireplace? 

I admit, at first blush I was quite smitten with the thought of a mirror-window or of a faux fireplace, but in the end I suspect the best fit for this house will be recreating the original baseboard as best we can and nothing more.  The living room isn't lacking for drama - the remaining three windows and the front door provide plenty of that.  And we're striving for a renovation here, not a remodeling.  So, after a great deal of mental energy, I'm back where I started from.  Still trying to figure out what to do about baseboard. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Not on the Homes Tour

We had about an hour of uncommitted time left after leaving the last stop on the holiday homes tour last Sunday, so Cecilia, her grandma and I headed north to drive by a particularly adorable abandoned house that I've always admired.  My mind clearly was not on the blog, because I failed to take any pictures. 

But, we decided to take back roads on our way home, and we stumbled across some more amazing abandonment.  And I remembered my camera. 

This Second Empire was unbelievable:

Check out the details along the eaves and in the slate roof:

One of the doors on the porch was hanging wide open, and my mom and I couldn't resist looking into the house.  (No, we didn't go in.) 

I never quite know how to feel when I see a house in this condition.  On one hand, I'm glad to know that the original trim and other material have been salvaged and will presumably live on in another home.  But on the other hand, I know that a gutted interior greatly decreases any chances that this house has at being renovated.  Realistically I know most of these houses will never be saved, but looking through the doorway to that gutted interior just seemed to drive home the sad fate that is most likely ahead for this home.

And about two miles down the road we found this little gem:

This house had a sign posted on the porch door so we didn't venture out of our car, but I really wanted to peek through those windows.  I suspect this house is close in age to our own home, and the original windows in this brick house make me drool.  Notice that the first story windows are 9-over-6, while the second story are 6-over-6.  Like this house, the Einsel House's first story windows are taller than its second story windows.  We know the EH's original second story windows were 6-over-6, but the original first story windows were replaced long ago and we do not know their original design.  I would love to know if the windows from this brick house would match what was originally on our own home. 

I think this spring I'll have to find a day just to drive back roads looking for more old abandoned houses.  : )

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday Home Tour

My mom's birthday is this coming weekend, but we treated her a week early by buying her a ticket to the Holiday Homes Tour sponsored by the local preservation society.  So last Sunday afternoon she, Cecilia and I spent several hours driving through the countryside to tour various houses.  I was most eager to see the two 1830s Greek Revival homes included in the tour.

I had my camera along, but did not take any pictures of the homes' interiors.  There were two reasons for this - first, I didn't want to take advantage of the homeowners' generosity; and second, every house was packed with people.  Any interior picture I took would have revealed more about current trends in winter appearal than it would have about the architecture of the homes in which the pictures were taken. 

But I did take a few exterior pictures.  : )

The picture below is a bit bittersweet for me.

That is very similar to the side porch that our house used to/should have.  Granted, our side porch was smaller and a bit less ornate.  Our porch had only one window with the door (although my picture cuts it off, the house porch pictured above had two windows with a centered door) and our porch had only two pillars (compared to four), but still the idea and the feel is exactly what I hope we can someday bring back to our house.

This is what we've got now:

But in my mind... 

I'll start by taking out the paneled wall with the window.  Put two simple square pillars flush against the stone walls to the left and the right.  Give the pillars some simple molding on the very top and bottom.  I might even add some decorative wood trim like pictured above, but it's nothing too intricate or ornate, this isn't the Victorian era yet.  The porch is, say, five or so feet deep.  Its back wall consists of a door (into the dining room) to the left and a window to the right.  Now - I'll put a divided pane window back into that shuttered hole in the small stone wall.  Add appropriately-sized louvered wood shutters.  (Yes - they have to be wood shutters.)  With shutter dogs.  (I love shutter dogs!)  Now, I'll settle into a rocking chair on my lovely porch.  There's a terra cotta pot on the top step in front of me with some red flowers in it - geraniums, maybe, or begonias.  My handsome husband steps out from the dining room, joining me with a glass of cool lemonade to sip while we enjoy the view.  (It's almost always mid-June in my imagination.)  The kids are laughing while playing on their swingset to our right while to our left a barn cat or two - or five - lounge on the stone walls in front of the springhouse.  Our whole view is framed by the tree lined creek, which can very faintly be heard gurgling in the background....

It's going to happen someday.  Might take 30 years, I'll admit.  But it'll happen.  Even if it's my grandkids playing on the swingset.

(Which reminds me of one of the guests at our open house last October.  While looking at some pictures of the house taken just after we bought it she looked up at me and said, "Wow.  You must have had some, uh, imagination when you bought this place."  If she only knew!)

But - back to the present.  And the home tour.  The second 1830's home on the tour was my favorite.  I've driven by it (perhaps a bit too slowly I admit) multiple times to admire it.  After seeing the interior and hearing the home's history my admiration is even greater.  Vandals started a fire in the house in the mid 1950's and it sat vacant and boarded up for over 30 years.  The current owners began their renovation in 1989 and have done a remarkable job. 

They reconstructed that front porch from original pieces fished out of a gulley alongside the house. 
Here's a side profile of the house:

One of my favorite features is this picket fence along the west side of the (new) garage:

I want to do something similar in front of our kitchen - a picket fence surrounding the area in front of our home's frame wing, with the sidewalk down the middle dividing the area into a small herb garden to the right and a small vegetable garden to the left.  (And I hope to turn this daydream into reality well before 2040.)

But as cute as the picket fence and little front porch on the yellow Greek Revival are, neither is the home's focal point.  The house's most stunning feature can not be seen when driving by.  You've got to get behind the front door to see this:

I really didn't take any interior pictures during the tour - this one came from the local newspaper.  But that staircase was just too stunning not to share. 

All in all it was a lovely afternoon, and I'm grateful to the homeowners who were willing to open their homes for the tour.  It's such a joy to see old homes celebrated as old homes and not remodeled to within an inch of their lives.  Perhaps someday, quite a while from now, we'll have the Einsel House polished up enough (and stuffed with enough antique furniture) that we can return the favor open our own front door for a holiday homes tour. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Field Trip

On Saturday Charles and I enjoyed a trip up to Toledo.  We got our Christmas shopping about half finished.  But the highlight for me was our first stop - Toledo Architectural Artifacts.  AA is an architectual salvage business located in an old downtown warehouse.  I've spent many hours on their website drooling, and the place is just as unbelievable in person. 
The collection of vintage bathroom fixtures was one of the 'funnest' areas:

There were more sinks behind me when I took the above picture (as well as toilets in the same range of colors). 

Although AA has items contemporary to our house, in general the late nineteenth century through the mid twentieth century dominate their inventory.  Oodles of Victorian, Arts & Crafts, Art Deco, and a healthy dose of the purely eclectic, too.

We brought with us the one remaning sash from our springhouse windows, but left without finding any matching six pane sash.  I also intended to scour AA's inventory of interior hooks hoping to find some to match our remaining hooks from the boards along the walls in our two front bedrooms and upstairs hall.  This would have been much easier if I hadn't absent-mindedly left the bag with our hooks on the Einsel House kitchen counter. 

I'll be emailing the pictures below to AA to see if they have anything that matches.

(I obviously raided the kids' block basket for that last picture.)  I haven't taken an exact count, but I believe we need around 15 of the top hook and 6 or 7 of the bottom one.  I realize that odds of finding a perfect match for either of these hooks are not great - and the odds of finding 15, or 6 or 7, perfect matches are downright poor.  But that won't stop me from trying!

Here are some of the top style hooks at work in our bedroom:

The ribbons are holding up some new artwork.  There's a third picture that will hang on the left, but I need to get more ribbon before I can hang it.

I suspect at least a few readers are scrunching up their foreheads in puzzlement about the bluebird, or more particularly, about the ribbon holding up the bluebird.  My own forehead was rather scrunched up while hanging the picture.  The problem is that the existing spacing for the hooks is too close for the size of the pictures.  If I put the bluebird ribbon solely on the left hook the two pictures bump into each other.  If I put the bluebird ribbon solely on the right hook the two pictures are just too far apart.  So I split the difference.  Well...straddled the difference I guess. 

I suppose I could drill new bird-picture-appropriate-spaced holes for the hooks, but I'm hesitant for several reasons.  First, I'm always loath to put new holes/cuts/marks of any kind in the Einsel House woodwork.  Second, respacing the hooks would require sanding the wood clean, measuring for and drilling the new holes, filling the old holes, more sanding, and finally refinishing the wood.  (In other words, you could replace that last sentence with 'Second, I'm feeling lazy at the moment.' and that would be true as well.)  And third, I suspect I might actually like my creative ribbonwork.  I'll have to hang the third picture up before I completely make up my mind.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saturday at the Springhouse

Saturday was a simply lovely day here - sunny and 68, which doesn't happen too often in mid November in Ohio.  Charles and I both spent the day outside, Charles tearing into the hodge-podge built/piled along the north wall of the little unpainted shed beside the driveway and me working back by the springhouse.  I was thrilled to be able to finish the new stone walls in front of the springhouse.

Here's a picture taken about 2 hours into my work on Saturday:

I always feel about three times my age the morning after this type of work. 

There was a small pile of stones beside the springhouse left over from earlier work, but I used those quickly.  So my work on Saturday was puncuated by trips down into the creek bed to find new stones and then lugging them up to the springhouse.  A couple of times I had to interrupt Charles's work on the shed to have him move a stone that I simply could not handle.

Here's the same walk pictured above (from the opposite angle) taken about four hours later:

This next picture was taken about mid afternoon.  I was standing just inside the springhouse door to get this view.  The walk pictured above is the one that goes to the left in the picture below:

An end-of-the-day overview is next:

The blue tarp is covering a large pile of dirt.  (You can see by the depth of the stone walls how much we had to dig out to make the new stone walks level with the threshhold of the springhouse's door.)  The tarp and dirt will probably have to stay put until we begin the gargantuan task of rebuilding the stone bridge.

As I put this post together tonight I decided to dig back through some earlier pictures of the springhouse.  I'll close with a springhouse picture taken on October 17, 2009:

There's a lot more work to be done to this little building, but when I opened that last picture I realized anew just how far we've already come.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Looks Nice

When the UPS man got out of his truck on Tuesday I could see him eyeing the house.  And as he handed me the new rug for our dining room he said, "I've got to tell you, coming up the drive here I was thinking, 'Man.  This place looks nice.'"  Ah, that warms the cockles of an old house lover's heart. 

And I know exactly what he meant.  I just wonder if he noticed as he left that watching the house recede in the rearview mirror is just as nice.  : )

As for the new rug, here it is:

It is an indoor/outdoor rug, which hopefully will hold up well (it admittedly takes a lot of abuse being under the table.)  It was shipped rolled up, so there are still a few waves in it that should smooth out with time.

As you might be able to see in the picture, the table legs each have small wheels on the bottom.  I don't want the wheels to leave dents in the new rug, so I picked up some clear casters to put under them.  But now every time I walk through the dining room those casters worry me.  Surely this isn't the beginning of a slippery slope that ends with a clear plastic cover on the sofa? 


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Rhineharts Revisited

One of the highlights of last summer was a visit from Jim Rhinehart, a great, great grandson of Noah and Rebecca Rhinehart, the first owners of our home. This was during my little June/July semi-hiatus from the blog.  With some help from Jim, and after some additional research on my own, I’ve learned a bit more information about Noah and Rebecca, and I’m long overdue for sharing that information here.

A study of the first property owners in our county reveals that the land our house was built on was purchased from the United States government on June 3, 1822 by Jacob Rhinehart (Noah’s father). Jacob came here from Fairfield County, Ohio and according to family lore died in a barn raising accident shortly after arriving, leaving behind a young widow and infant son Noah. Also according to family lore, Jacob’s widow Susannah remarried and moved "back east" leaving young Noah to be raised as an orphan. Two of the questions raised by my earlier research on the Rhinehart family were who raised Noah? And what became of his mother, Susannah? A little more digging and some answers are starting to piece together.

By the summer of 1830, Noah Rhinehart would have been 9 years old; his mother Susannah would have been 27. The federal census taken that year includes the tiny family of a "Susan Rinehart" living in Rush Creek Township, Fairfield County, Ohio. The household consisted of one female between the ages of 20-30 and two young males, one under 5 years of age and the other between the ages of 5-10. It makes sense that Jacob’s widow would have returned to Fairfield County following her husband’s death, and the enumeration strongly suggests it is for ‘our’ Susannah and Noah, but I’m stumped by the male under the age of 5. If it is a younger child of Jacob and Susannah then Jacob’s death was apparently in the mid-to-late 1820’s rather than the early 1820’s. And what became of this apparent younger brother to Noah? (As usual with genealogy – answer one question and you raise two more.)

As for Susannah, she must have maintained some presence in the area where she and Jacob had bought land and planned to live. Our house is located about 3 miles north of a county line, and records from the county just to our south include the marriage of a Susannah Rhinehart to G.T. Denman on April 14, 1835. Noah was one month shy of 14 years old when his mother remarried. His new stepfather was Gersham Terry Denman, born about 1780. Like Susannah, Gersham had been previously married and had children from his first marriage.

The 1840 census records Gersham and Susannah Denman living in the county of their marriage, with three children in the household: a male between the ages of 5-10 (Gersham’s youngest child from his first marriage, Andrew Denman, born about 1832), a female under the age of 5 (Martha J. Denman, born to Gersham and Susannah about 1838) and a male under the age of 5 (Gersham T. Denman, Jr., born to Gersham and Susannah about 1840). Noah, then barely 19, was not enumerated with the family. At that age, it is quite likely that Noah was living with another family as a hired farm laborer. Out of curiosity, I looked up the family of Benjamin and Anna Huddle (Noah’s future in-laws) in the 1840 census, however there is no male Noah’s age enumerated with their family. But living just three houses away from the Huddles was the Daniel Troxel family, consisting of a male 20-30 (presumably Daniel), a female 20-30 (presumably Daniel’s wife), a female 5-10 (presumable Daniel’s daughter), a male under 5 (presumably Daniel’s son) and a male 15-20 (hmmmm… too old to be Daniel’s son, but a perfect age to be a hired hand). How I wish the 1840 census listed everyone in the household by name!

Noah Rhinehart reappears on the official record on April 6, 1844 when he purchases the land where our house currently stands from Jacob Rhinehart (his deceased father?). Curiously, another deed for the exact same parcel of land was recorded on January 29, 1845, this time transferring ownership to Noah Rhinehart from G.T. Denman and his wife Susannah (Noah’s mother and step-father). Although I have little more than a gut feeling upon which to base this, I believe that our house was probably built during the summer and fall of 1844. Noah was twenty-three years old, and undoubtedly planning ahead for his marriage to Rebecca Huddle which would occur the following spring.

The story of Noah and Rebecca’s years in their stone house remains as told in my earlier post here. Meanwhile, Noah’s mother and stepfather remained living just to the south. By 1850 Noah had four young half-siblings; in addition to Martha and Gersham, Jr., there were now Abner Denman (born about 1842) and Catherine Denman (born about 1844). Sometime in the 1850’s Gersham and Susannah Denman did move, but they moved not "back east" as family lore claimed, but north instead – to Minnesota to be precise.

There is one final interesting note about the Rhineharts. As stated in my earlier post, Noah and Rebecca sold the stone house in 1864 and moved to Shelby County, Ohio.  It turns out this was not a random relocation - Noah joined a large extended family in Shelby County, it being the home to his Rhinehart grandparents as well as numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

Noah Rhinehart's life is still puncuated by tragedy - particularly his father's death in the 1820's and his son's death in the 1860's - but contrary to my earlier image of Noah as an orphan I now see that he had the support of family throughout his life.  Other than a few years just before his marriage, it appears that Noah was raised by his own mother.  And Noah and Rebecca's relocation to Shelby County suggests that, in spite of his father's very early death, Noah maintained close contact with his Rhinehart kin.  I'm relieved for Noah.  That's probably kind of silly since the man passed away more than a hundred years ago, but still, it's comforting to know that the first owner of our home had the love and support of family to fall back on in times of sorrow.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Of Home and School

That last post was quite fun to write, but I don't want to let it sit in "first place" for too long - especially when I have something like this that I can share:

With November officially here the kids' classes are moving on to turkeys and pilgrims; Monday's bookbags were packed with October's pumpkin and bat projects.  Neil's project pictured above really made me smile.  The whole page would not fit on our scanner, but the last word of the instructions is "survive".  And Neil's answers, from left to right, are "House", "Bat House", and "Bug".    (Technically, we're trying to convince our bats that they can survive on only 2 of those 3, but I can't blame Neil for answering the way he did.)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I'm going to spend this post whining.  I'm apparently also going to spend this post being blunt.

Last Wednesday
5:00pm - With trick-or-treating only 24 hours away, I settle in at the dining room table to make Neil the ghost costume he requested.  I've got white sheets, scissors and some thread.  How difficult can a ghost costume be?

8:00pm - Very difficult.  Thoroughly frustrated, I drive into Walmart and come home with one of the last Super Mario Bros. "Mario" costumes left in the store. 

(Highlights from the three hours in between include Neil posing in a perfect billowy ghost costume followed by Neil walking smack into a wall in our dining room because the eye holes in said perfect billowy ghost costume kept shifting so he could not see where he was going.  Followed by me deciding that instead of two small holes, I would cut one big hole for Neil to see out of.  Followed by Neil posing in a perfect billowy Muslim hijab head covering.  Not what I was going for.  Followed by me deciding that I would put two eye holes in the pillow case and hope that would stay in place better than a whole loose sheet.  Followed by Neil posing in a perfect KKK costume.  Definately not what I was going for.  Followed by the trip to Walmart.)

9:00pm - Neil (never one to like change) announces he doesn't like Mario and isn't going to wear any costume.

Last Thursday
4:00pm - At my aunt's house for a hair cut, Neil announces he does not like Mario and isn't going to wear any costume.

4:30pm - Neil does not like Mario and isn't going to wear any costume.

4:45pm - Neil does not like Mario and isn't going to wear any costume.

5:00pm - Other kids (in costume) start appearing on the sidewalks outside my aunt's house, empty plastic pumpkins and pillowcases in hand.

5:05pm - Neil decides Mario might not be so bad.

5:15-6:45pm - A rather enjoyable, if somewhat cold, hour and a half follows.

7:30pm - Finally back at the EH, Charles and I begin packing for a weekend camping trip. 

Last Friday
7:45am - Frantic activity at the Einsel House.  Last minute packing for the camping trip.  Costumes into bookbags for the kids' school Halloween parties.  Packing a lunch for Cecilia's fall harvest day field trip.  More last minute packing for camping trip.  Everyone is at least 10 minutes late leaving the house.

2:00pm - Aunt Flo decides to join me for the weekend.  (I debated including this detail here, but you know what, this little bit definately fits into a  post titled "Grumpy".)

4:15pm - Meet family friend Adam and all pile into the van to begin the drive down to Lake Hope State Park.

6:00pm on a Friday night - not the best time to be in Columbus attempting to merge from Route 23 onto Route 270

6:20pm on a Friday night - still not a good time to be in Columbus attempting to merge from Route 23 onto Route 270

8:00pm - winding our way south somewhere in Vinton County, Neil announces "I need to use the restroom."

8:05pm - Neil: "I really need to use the potty."

8:10pm - Neil: "I REALLY need to go potty!"

8:12pm - Neil: "I CAN'T WAIT!!!"

8:13pm - Charles pulls off onto some steep stone road.  The three passengers of the van who are able to pee standing up exit the van and line up on the side of the road.

8:15pm - We pull into the drive for Lake Hope State Park and locate Cabin #14.  We unload the van and all go straight to bed.

Last Saturday
1:15am - I wake up.  With a stomach flu. 

9:00am - Avoiding me like the plague, everyone else leaves the cabin to enjoy Lake Hope's ROAR Day activies (ROAR stands for Rural Ohio Appalachia Revisited).

10:00am - Cecilia is dropped off back at Cabin #14.  With the stomach flu.

Mid Afternoon - Charles reappears at Cabin #14.  With the stomach flu.

Thanks to my parents and Adam, Neil is able to enjoy the ROAR activities and has a very busy and full day. 

Last Sunday
8:00am - I wake up feeling weak and a bit shaky, but no longer nauseous.  Cecilia wakes up chipper and joins Neil for a game of Jr. Monopoly.  Charles wakes up feeling weak, a bit shaky and still nauseous. 

9:30am - Since Charles clearly isn't up to any hiking, my dad and he leave to head back north.  The rest of us finish packing up the cabin and take off for Rock House State Park.  The kids have a blast hiking and crawling around inside Rock House.

8:00pm - Finally all back at the Einsel House, I do some basic unpacking but the house is still very disheveled at lights out.

6:10am - My nose feels cold as I hit the snooze button on my alarm clock.  I snuggle down under the covers thinking how good it is to be home. 

6:10-6:40am - ...I hit snooze a few more times...

6:45am - Finally downstairs, I notice Cecilia is shivering when she gives me a hug.  Hmmm.  I walk over to the thermostat.  It's set at 68 degrees.  The house is 59 degrees.  Damn.

9:00am - I'm half an hour late getting to work and the house is still mostly trashed, but a technician from the company that installed the furnace is supposed to stop by sometime during the day to look at the furnace.  The furnace they installed barely seven months ago.  (Just how much abuse could the thing have taken between the months of April-October anyway?)

2:00pm - Furnace tech calls.  Some gas valve is the problem, he'll get a replacement and install it tomorrow.  In the meantime he overrides the thermostat so the heat pump will continue running despite the cooler-than-a-heat-pump-prefers temperatures. 

5:00pm - My dad leaves a message on my voicemail telling me we're in the dog house for giving he and my mom the stomach flu.

7:00pm - I call my parents to apologize about the flu.  Mom sounds rough.  She tells me family friend Adam now has the flu too.

10:00pm - Kids in bed and the house 1/2 put back together the heat pump kicks in.  LOUDLY.  No wonder they don't suggest you run the thing in temperatures below freezing.

6:10am - Noting with relief that my nose is not cold to the touch, I hit the snooze button on my alarm clock.  I snuggle down under the covers thinking how good it is to be home.

6:10-6:40am - ...I hit snooze a few more times...

7:45am - It's school picture day, so the morning has been another frantic one, but Charles and the kids are out the door on time.  I'm heading through the house one last time to turn off lights when I stop suddenly in the dining room, staring in disbelief at the rug underneath the table.  Apparently Tiny the Cat has the stomach flu too.

8:50am - I'm 20 minutes late getting to work and the house is still 1/2 trashed.  What remains of the four puddles of diarrhea on the dining room rug are soaking under wet rags.  Larger dry rags are shoved under the rug to protect the newly refinished hardwood floor underneath.  I'm beyond caring what the furnace tech will think when he comes to repair the furnace.

2:00pm - The furnace tech calls to tell me the wrong part was shipped for our furnace and they won't get the correct part until tomorrow.  He hopes the heat pump is keeping up in these cooler temps.

5:30pm - I eat two chocolate fudge poptarts for supper while shopping on-line for a new dining room rug.  Stupid rugs are expensive.

6:00-8:00pm - I derive a perhaps undue amount of pleasure from the writing of this post.

But I really should stop now and finish cleaning up the mess in my dining room...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sunrise, Sunset

....swiftly flow the days....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

An Einsel House Sibling?

To the best of my knowledge, there are only five stone houses remaining in this county.  So a few months ago when I saw one of the others on a local realtor's website I was immediately itching to check it out.  It went under contract almost immediately (read - before there was any open house) but luckily for me (although admittedly unluckily for the homeowners) the deal fell through.  And this past Sunday from 4:00-5:00 the realtor held an open house.

The stone house for sale is far and away the largest of all of the stone homes in this area.  It is 3,150 square feet, two stories with a large walk-up attic, a perfect 35x45 rectangle.  (For comparison sake, the two story part of our house is 20x28.) 

With the exception of the west side of the house (bottom picture above) all of the basement windows have these amazing grates:

The house clearly originally had a porch with a balcony above.  As at our house, there is a single huge flagstone as the porch floor.

Behind that atrocity of a screen door is the original paneled front door.

As can be seen in these pictures, the house has horizontal stone bands under both the first and second story windows.  Other than these bands around the house, the stone construction looks a lot like that of our own house.  Even the chisel marks in the stones look identical to the marks in our stones.

Walking through the house, even more similarities to the Einsel House were noticable. 

Take these baseboards - Big House at left, Einsel House at right:

 Or the framing around the parlor windows:

Or this:

The left picture above was taken on the way up to the big house's attic.  The right picture was taken on the way down to the EH basement.

The window frames in both houses are beveled (at what appears to be an identical angle) and several doors in the big house have the same large center board as our doors at the EH.  Even the layout of the houses are similar - centered entrances and centered staircases, both parlors in the front right corner and both original kitchens in the back left corner.

The more I walked through the house the more intrigued I became.  The realtor's information sheet gave a build date as 1890, but she probably got that information from the county auditor (who claims the Einsel House was built in 1900 - phoooey.)  To my eye, I'd easily place the larger stone house within a decade or less of the EH.  The houses are located about 4 miles from each other, both within the same township.   It is very conceivable that they were built by the same mason and/or carpenter.  Which means that - someday when I have time - I'm going to be digging into the big house's history, hoping that it will perhaps tell me something about my own home's story.

But, since I know you're all curious, I'll share more pictures from the big stone house.  As the pictures above have already shown, the bigger house has been slathered in paint.  There is not one inch of baseboard or trim or door that has escaped a solid white fate.  The walls all have a textured surface, and they too are covered in light colored paint.  Too light, in my humble opinion.  The details in the larger house are actually a bit fancier than our house, but with the white paint and pale walls everything sort fades into itself.  The wood floors in the first floor are all under carpet (beige berber).  The second floor is carpet free, but its wood floors are all painted a solid Hershey's Milk Chocolate brown.

All that said, the house is amazing.

In my mind I see this room with the (far) chandelier and adjustable shelves gone, the original wood floors refinished, and a wall color that doesn't try to smother the white trim.

Standing back a few more feet:

Can you believe that doorway!?!?

After a close study of the large room, I am convinced that there were probably two doorways like this.  Today, when you come in the front door you are immediately in the large room pictured above, the wide doorway above is to your right, the single door straight in front of you goes to the stairs.  But lines on the wall and ceiling reveal that the front door didn't always open into such a large room.  There was at one time another wall, making a hallway about ten feet wide that ran from the front door straight back to the stairway door.  The right wall of this hall was the large doorway pictured above.  The left side of this hall is now gone, but since Greek Revival houses are heavy on symmetry I suspect that it probably was a mirror image of the doorway that remains.

The bathroom reveals more change from the home's original layout.  It was carved out of two rooms, the parlor and the back right room (now the kitchen).  Check out the windows in this picture:

The window on the right is a parlor window, the one to the left is from the back room.  Between them you can even see a little stub of the wall that came out when this became a bathroom.

At right is a picture of the hall at the top of the stairs.  It basically splits the second story into two equal halves.  This picture is taken looking from the back of the house to the front.  In the lower lefthand corner of the picture is the bannister.

I suspect that the original wood bannister may still be there, just plastered over.  I'm not 100% sure, but if the place were mine you can bet I would be busting a hole in that plaster to check.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the house for me was the attic.  I've often wondered what our attic looks like.  (Without all the bat dung, that is.)  So when I walked into the big house's attic and saw this: took my breath away.  (And not because the chimney is crooked.  It's not.  It's just wider at the roof than it is at the attic floor.)

The pictures cannot convey how absolutely massive those beams and tree trunks are.  Even the boards used as roof sheeting are amazing.  Some are nearly two feet wide.  And as you can see in the pictures, it's all mortise and tenon construction.  The tree trunks are not pieced, each one runs all the way from the attic floor to the peak, with a notch in the center to fit over the support beam.

It almost makes me want to bust a hole in one of our bedroom ceilings so I can poke my head up into our own attic.  (After all the bat dung has been cleaned up, that is.)

I wish the big house's owners luck in selling it.  The realtor said they lived there 30 years and were ready to downsize.  Clearly they maintained the place well, albeit with a remodeler's hand instead of a renovator's.  If I'm able to learn more of the history of the house they left behind I'll be sure to share it here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

House Tour

After last weekend's open house, I thought it might be fun to do a house tour here on the blog as well.  These are candid shots, taken just after church on Sunday.  My apologies in advance for the glare in some of these.  The sunny weather was perfect for the open house, but not so perfect for taking indoor pictures.

First up - the kitchen.

Pictured below is the north end of the kitchen, where we had to lower the cathedral ceiling.  That warbrobe pictured in the last post is going to go in the corner of this room to corral the toys currently overwhelming those MDF shelves that I abhor. 

And the 'kitchen-y' end of the kitchen: 

Most people disagree with my plans to paint these cupboards.  But so far that hasn't convinced me to give up my plans - namely, adding crown molding, painting all cupboards (except the island) off white, and replacing the door hardware, counters (again except the island) and sink.

Moving on to the dining room:
That cupboard in the corner of the room was a jelly cupboard from my grandparents' basement.  In 1997 I stripped the old paint off as a 4-H project.  Last month I sanded down glossy poly finish and put it back under paint.  I love the punch of color it adds to the room.

Next up - the office:

The white chest of drawers between the bookcases was left by the previous owners.  Eventually I want to clean it up, repaint it and change the hardware. 

Yes, we have two computer monitors.  (Charles only consents to living in an old house so long as I consent to allowing his modern toys in said old house.) 

The stacked cabinet on the right side of the above picture is easily the most commented on piece of furniture in our house.  It's also the first piece of furniture I ever bought.  I was 15 years old when I stumbled across it at an antique store in Marietta, Ohio. My parents and I were killing time before I could sign in for the week long archeology camp I was registered for at Marietta College. A "lawyer’s cabinet" was what the shop owner called it, but the price tag hanging from one of the drawers ($750) was too steep for my parents.  We left to check out other shops, but I was too smitten by the lawyer's cabinet to let it go that easily.  Just as we headed back to the van so I could check in at the archealogy camp the solution occurred to me.  I could buy the cabinet.  MyselfWith my own money.  (At 15 this was a novel idea.)

But by the time this solution occurred to me there was not enough time left for me to return to the antique store.  So once I was settled in at Marietta College for the week my parents returned to the shop.  My dad had promised to do his best for me bargaining with the shop owner.  If he could get the price down to six hundred dollars they would buy the cabinet for me.  Cell phones were still a novelty in 1995, so it was a few days before I was able to call home.  Of course, the first thing I asked about was the lawyer's cabinet.  My mom was apologetic, but she told me the shop's owner would not budge at all on his price.  When they picked me up at the end of the week, she promised, I could go back to the shop and try bargaining with him myself.

So I spent the week playing in the dirt and traipsing around Indian mounds.  And at the end of the week my mom made the drive back down to Marietta to pick me up.  When I got in the van I noticed the signature cardboard envelope of a 24 hour photo development place sitting - perhaps too conspicuously - on the console between the front seats.  As mom had to know I would, I immediately opened the envelope and began flipping through the pictures inside.  Somehow she coaxed me out of the van as I looked through the stack of pictures.  She had her camera ready at her side.  And as soon as I got to the picture of the lawyer's cabinet that they told me they hadn't bought sitting in our living room, right between the computer and rocking chair, mom took this picture:

The receipt for the lawyer's cabinet is still tucked in the back of one of the index card drawers. 
Dad had talked the shop owner down to $575.
But, jumping back to the present, we're up to the Einsel living room:

(Sorry about the glare in those.) 
And yes, I realize that a clock needs to go on that shelf instead of a picture - an ogee clock to be precise - but I'll talk about that more in another post.

Heading on upstairs:

This circa 1860's child's bed was a perfect fit for the little nook at the top of the stairs.  It originally belonged to my great great grandmother's sister, who left it one of my grandmother's cousins, who left it to me.  The quilt on it is an heirloom from Charles' side of the family.  His paternal grandmother began the quilt in 1953, when she was expecting her fourth child.  Sadly, the pregnancy ended in toxemia (eclampsia).  Baby Joseph Allen lived only one day.  His mother held on for 13 days.  Later, Charles' great grandmother finished the quilt that her daughter-in-law had begun. 

Here's the view of the stairway from inside the back bedroom:

And Cecilia's view from her bed:

Neil's view is through the windows pictured here:

And Charles and my room last:

The place has come a long way in just one year.  Still, it feels a bit sparse.  I'm constantly plotting what to hang on the walls and what other pieces of furniture would be a good fit.  Based on my experience with our last house, I expect the finishing details will take me years.  I'd rather live with a blank wall indefinately, waiting for something that feels perfect, than to put up a picture that feels mehhhh just because I have it on hand. 
That's the tour - although it's much better in person.  : )