The girls and I stopped in at the bookstore Friday to get a few last minute summer reads for them. School starts soon but they were still trying to get some pleasure reading in before the homework starts and keeps them from reading for enjoyment.
They were walking in front of me when I saw a table with a display of a book titled “Lost Toledo” by David Yonke. http://www.davidyonke.com/
The girls kept going and I picked it up and thought, I wonder if our house is in here? Really I was not expecting it to be there. But it is! I laughed and the girls turned around. I opened to the photo of our house and said “Our house is in this book!” There is a picture and a brief history. We got a lot of strange looks from other shoppers and added it to our pile.
I am still having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that we didn’t just move to a new house. We live in a house that is a part of Toledo history, that shares a history with Jeep through former resident John North Willys and that many people feel a connection to. We don’t often mention to people what house we live in. We just say a house in the Old West End. Living in a home that people keep referring to as a cornerstone home adds weight to the process of restoring/renovating/rescuing this house. We know that financially we will never get back what we put into this house. But along the way we are making it a home. It will be the place we have birthday parties and Christmas mornings. Prom pictures and wedding photos will be taken in the stairwell with a backdrop of stained glass windows. Grandchildren will visit someday. It will be a piece of Toledo’s history as well as our family history. Hopefully the love we put into this house will allow it to be one of the cornerstone homes of the neighborhood for another hundred years and be a place where other families will make memories add to the history.
It is finally feeling like August around here. The days are hot and humid which is bad for us. Construction on our house began in 1901. We have a boiler system for heating the house. That means no air conditioning. Most days it is not a problem. We open the house at night, turn on the whole house attic fan and things cools off nicely. We all have a box fan in our bedrooms to help keep those rooms comfortable for sleeping. During the day I close up the house. The walls are 18-28 inches thick. They do a good job of insulating the house.
The problem arises when the nighttime temperature stays high or we have a few hot and humid days with no break from the humidity at night. Then it is a little more challenging. We also have a mystery involved.
The window in youngest daughter’s bathroom is super cute. Her room faces the south side of the house and most of the heat from the day creeps in that side, except from the bathroom window. I can not figure out why but there is ALWAYS a pleasant breeze coming in this window. The bedrooms have warm air coming though and this window, which is right next to those, still has a nice breeze coming through.
I am sure an engineer could explain why this is so but we like the idea that we have a magic window in our house and I do not want to spoil that.
The little arched bathroom window is magical!
I explained the trouble we had with the master shower pipes and floor pan leaking into the music room. We had made a bit of progress inside the bathroom getting the shower rebuilt. This project seems to be one step forward and two steps back at almost every turn. Unfortunately, I failed to get a picture of the shower prior to demo.
We had hoped to be able to reuse at least a portion of the marble in the new shower. We contacted nearly everyone we could find to get a quote to polish and cut the old marble. Waiting to figure this out has kept this project at a standstill for nearly a month. Only one quote came back. The price tag? $3,500! This would only put marble on the bottom three feet of the new tile shower. The marble is old and nobody wants to cut it. It is also nearly an inch thick. As much as we had hoped to reuse the original marble and have it be a feature in the updated bath it just isn’t in our budget. Our plumbing and heating problems have dipped into a lot of our renovation budget.
Slabs of marble removed from shower
Close up of marble
Needs a good polish!
So off we went to the tile store. Deciding what to put in was a difficult task. The bathroom has the original cream subway tiles on the walls and a black and hex tile that is not original on the floor. (The original floor was, you guessed it: marble! At some point it was tiled OVER) Modern tile will not match either of these. We decided to do a more contemporary shower so it doesn’t look like we tried to match the existing features and fell short. Hopefully we will have tile up by the end of the week to show you.
There was a lot going on here this past week. When we returned from our vacation we got ready to have our first over night guests. Of course our home is still a mess. There are few places that are not undergoing some sort of work and still boxes in odd places waiting for me to decide where the contents belong.
We enjoyed spending time with our friends from the windy city. I was relieved that they were so excited for us and our mad adventure and didn’t walk in and say “What were you thinking?” I am pretty sure most people think we are insane and we probably are a little bit.
They brought us a wonderful housewarming gift.
- Salt: That life may always have flavor.
- Bread: That this house may never know hunger.
- Wine: That joy and prosperity may reign forever.
They included a crucifix that I love. Notice the ends of the cross? Trefoils! Thank you dear friend.
We took a week off and enjoyed our vacation. We are now back home and ready to tackle the challenges of repairing and restoring our home. Everything came to a screeching halt while we were away. First order of business, get the master bath in working order. The antique tub is the only functioning fixture in the room at this time. The master bath is an active construction site at the moment so you can’t even enjoy the tub.
The plumbing problems have been the most challenging thing we have dealt with so far. When the previous owners had the water turned off to the house we should have suspected there were problems. They kept promising that all plumbing would be in good working order before closing and all work was being completed by a licensed plumber. Four days before we closed we finally discovered that the plumber had not completed any of the repairs he was paid to do and most of the plumbing was not in working order. In fact out of 36 fixtures in the house (toilet, faucet) only three were actually working. The sellers had contracted another plumbing company to complete the work and gave us the money to pay them out of their proceeds of the sale. We went forward with the purchase and hoped for the best.
We moved in two weeks later and had only slightly more functioning fixtures. In fact, the first two weeks here a cold shower or a hot bath were your options. My kitchen faucet leaked (still does) and the sink didn’t drain. The washing machine drained into the kitchen sink which did not drain. I am sure you can imagine how that worked out! Some sinks had cold water, only one had hot. Four of the six toilets were working, that was a plus. Where there was hot water it took 20-30 minutes of running the water to get it to the faucet because of the way the plumbing runs in the basement. The water goes a long way before it reaches its destination!
The good news is much of the plumbing is now functioning. The bad news is most of it is not functioning that well. The master bath is the current priority. Hopefully this week that project will pick up speed and get wrapped up.
We returned home from vacation relaxed but the restored part has a long way to go!