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.  : )

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

First Housiversary

No, I haven’t been eaten up by some creepy crawly beastie from the basement. We’re all still here, busy cleaning up from an open house we had on Sunday to celebrate our first Einsel House anniversary. By our count, just under 70 people went through the house. Typically crowds are not my forte, but I must confess that I’m pretty proud of this place and it was wonderful to be able to share it with so many people.

It amazes me to think back to one year ago and to realize how much we have accomplished in just one year. But running out of home improvement projects should never be a problem around here. J The springhouse has come a long way since spring, but we need to finish the roof before winter sets in. And rebuilding the stone bridge has become a priority. The collapsed west side has eroded noticeably in the past year. Inside the house there are plenty of finishing touches to be addressed. The walls are still mostly bare and little things like door thresholds and a few last sections of baseboard need to be replaced. And last week we bought this thing to put in the north end of the kitchen:

The plan is to sand it down and stain it to match the old lab table/kitchen island.  We'll take off that paneling and have open shelves in the middle.  (But I make no promises as to when all this will get done!)