As part of the street reconstruction, there were plans to plant trees in the easement. We were told the trees would be planted in the spring.
What a pleasant surprise to see them today! There are a lot more than I had expected. They will provide a nice accent to our very under landscaped yard.
The ones on our side of the road are plums and across the street are elms. (The elms are not planted yet. They will have to wait until tomorrow to be photographed)
The end of one construction job is in sight. Sadly, it is the street construction in front of our house and none of the projects still underway inside. Don’t even ask me about the master bathroom!
Our house is on a corner lot. The side of the house with our driveway is on a fairly busy street and the lot extends a full block on this side. Road construction began about 10 days after we moved in and has been going on all summer. The road has been one way in different directions throughout the project as they completely tore the road out and rebuilt it.
The neighborhood association has worked along side the city engineer to keep the project moving and preserving the historical integrity as much as possible. I have been so impressed with the city engineer. He is out here all day, every day. He has kept us well informed about the project and given us much appreciated notice when access to our driveway has been limited or restricted.
The project included removal of the original sandstone sidewalk sections and the original brick road that remained under the pavement. We were able to keep the sidewalk sections for our own use. The brick was salvaged to use in repairing the one original brick road in the neighborhood and installed as accent pieces on the corners.
Sandstone sections that will be a new patio in our side yard
A few bricks that got left behind
recycled road bricks at cross walks
They also used pieces of the sandstone and the bricks to make a decorative base around the areas where new lamp posts will be installed.
Lamp Post Base
They have narrowed the road in an attempt to limit cut through traffic and speeding. A bike path will be added on the other side of the road and on street parking will be allowed on the east side of our driveway which will be nice for guests.
While I really want some of our projects to find their way to completion, I will be happy to see the road construction wrapped up. (Hopefully with this project completed I can add window washing to the to do list.) It looks beautiful and makes me happy to be part of this new neighborhood.
Our new sidewalk and driveway apron. You can see the indent for on street parking.
The other side of the driveway
Our house has many beautiful features which were the reason we fell in love with it. There are also some odd, interesting, fun things we have discovered. I thought you might enjoy some of these quirky or fun facts and will try to do some short posts with these occasionally.
Here is the first one. One of our favorite things about the house is the three paneled stained glass window in the main staircase. Now that the Pepto-Bismol pink paint is gone the whole stairway fills with beautiful rose tinted golden light when the sun is shining.
Great shot to see all the colors
Notice the light reflected on the walls
Oddly enough though, from the outside this window isn’t visible at all!
The fire escape partially blocks it but at some point Plexiglas was put over the outside of the windows. I am not sure if it was to protect them or to help with insulating them in the winter. We are seriously considering taking out the fire escape and I would like to either remove the Plexiglas or replace it with something that will allow more light through the window and make it visible from outside. It just seems odd that this lovely feature is hidden from the outside.
Fall is definitely in the air. A few trees are beginning to change colors, the first gallons of apple cider have arrived in the store and the evenings are getting colder. This is one of my favorite times of year. I love watching the changes to the trees, having warm sunny days but cool mornings and evenings that require getting out sweaters. The only problem this year is the lack of a functioning heating system in our home.
Because the heat was left off last winter when the house was for sale we had all the heat exchangers on the first floor break. Many of the pipes in the radiator system are also broken. We have gone back and forth on our heating options. You can’t replace the heat exchangers but they MIGHT be able to be rebuilt. We could install gas forced air for the first floor (with the advantage of some day adding A/C) and maintain the boiler system for the second and third floors or replace the whole thing with gas forced air. There are advantages and disadvantages to all three options. None of the choices is inexpensive and all are much more costly than we had imagined. We have decided to install two gas forced air units to heat the first floor and keep the second and third floors and the kitchen (if the radiator works) on the boiler system. We have two boilers but only one is operational at this time. The thought behind two furnaces for the first floor is due to higher efficiency from the smaller units rather than one very large one. Which makes sense in a strange way.
The install will be a major project. There is no duct work in our house. Unlike an install on new construction, all our walls and floors are in place. We don’t want to damage the beautiful hard woods or repair any additional plaster walls. We haven’t finished those repairs that are already underway! The first step was removing all the air exchangers from the basement. In case you are unfamiliar with this, here is what little I now know. Instead of radiators on the formal rooms of the first floor there are vents that brought heat up from the basement. This vent system consists of giant wooden boxes which cover the water pipes and the large metal heat exchangers. The vent system is all over the basement and encloses the piping as well as 115 years of dirt and dust. There may or may not be lead paint. It all had to go. Matt had his brother and another friend offer to help and they spent three days removing everything and filled a dumpster in the process.
The wooden boxes
The new furnaces have been ordered. We are waiting for the work to begin. The install should take about two weeks. In the mean time I think we need to get the boiler going and get some heat on the second and third floors and unpack the sweaters and blankets. I may even have to buy some socks!
Side note: Since there was a little room left in the dumpster we decided now was the perfect time to gut the RV bathroom on the third floor and get all that mess out of here. A friend of our son had come by one evening and helped with the basement demo. He was a great help and was crazy enough to offer to do the bathroom demo for us. Thanks D.J. for a job well done!
Both the grand staircase and the servants stairs were carpeted when we got here. The grand staircase had a carpet runner that was green and mauve and was probably put there in the 80’s. It matched the area rug in the entry and the awful mauve paint on the stairwell walls. As you know, the pink paint was the first to go. I also rolled up the area rug and dragged that out immediately as well. It was threadbare, covered in pet stains and the backing of the carpet was disintegrating, leaving a powder oozing out from under the rug.
I also pulled the runner off the top section of the staircase. It had the same problems. I thought the bare wood on the stairs was beautiful and the carpet being gone would make it so much easier to clean. Little did I know that before the runner was installed the stairs had been refinished. But whoever did that didn’t finish the stairs where the runner was going to be. I put that on the list of crazy things we discovered here. Why would you leave the center of the stair tread unfinished??
Stained and threadbare
Matt decided we would leave the remaining runner in place until we decide what we are going to do with the stairs. I would like to keep them bare and refinish the treads. He wants to replace the runner. It is so much easier to sweep and wipe the steps than to try to clean the edges and vacuum the runner. Since we agreed to have the home on the Christmas tour we are going to have to make some decision soon. They certainly can’t stay like they are and the old runner has to come off.
The servants staircase at the back of the house was another big problem. They were also carpeted with an industrial gray that would have provided great training for a CSI team. To call them disgusting would be too kind. The smelled, they felt nasty when you walked on them and our dogs were convinced they could pee on them often enough to get the other pet odors covered up.
They actually don’t look awful in the pictures and you can’t appreciate the odor from a photo!
I pulled up the corners on the landings and found a lovely linoleum underneath. (OK, it isn’t really a lovely linoleum.) It went up all three flights of stairs and was in the third floor hall as well. If we pulled out the carpet I wasn’t sure if we would be able to get the linoleum up, I was pretty sure it was glued to the hardwood. After several months of being afraid to go up the stairs I went ahead and started ripping up the carpet. I figured I could live with the linoleum until we were ready to refinish the stairs because I could clean it! Something I hadn’t been able to do with the carpet. Trust me, I did try!
It turned out that the carpet had originally been tan not gray. Now I was even more determined to get it out of my house. At some point the staircase from the second to the third floor had had the linoleum removed but it was glued and the glue was left on the stairs. We were able to scrape much of the glue off and will eventually remove the rest of the linoleum and refinish all the stairs. For now it looks like this:
bottom staircase with linoleum
linoleum close up
The linoleum has been here a long time. I would guess it was put in while the Oblates were living here. It has a cork like texture and the color is actually less offensive than I had first thought. The best part-it is clean!! The horrible odor is gone and nobody cringes at the thought of going up and down the stairs.
The plumber had found many of the original tags that indicated what each room was. We know the room adjacent to the living room was intended to be the music room. It has the beautiful built in mahogany cabinets with leaded glass doors. My dilemma is what do you put in these cabinets?? I do not have a collection of anything that is looking for a place to be displayed. I think a display of things on a coffee table or mantel or hutch looks beautiful in people’s home and on all the design shows on TV but that isn’t something I have ever done.
Now I have this entire room of cabinets designed to display something and I don’t have the first clue what to do with them. The cabinets and shelves are labeled and numbered. Perhaps the priests used this a library? I can’t see a family needing to label the shelves where they would keep their books or display their knick knacks. But if this was indeed designed as a music room in 1901 what would Mr. Tillinghast have used these for?
The cabinets are only eight inches deep so not many books published then would fit. If it was a music room, would you keep sheet music in the cabinets? There are also drawers at the bottom so I am really stumped.
They look very pretty, especially with the new lighting in the room but I suppose I am going to have to figure out some practical use for them. I had considered stocking them as a giant liquor cabinet but the bottles are all too tall.
And they already found a home in the butler’s pantry!
I do have books. In fact, I have A LOT of books but I am not sure I want to draw attention to my eclectic collection of reading materials. Any suggestions?