I got an unexpected break yesterday when my chiropractor, after adjusting my back, forbade me from doing any ladder work right away. So, instead of working on the bay window, I explored the house a little bit more. The flash on my camera is working again (finally!) and it was able to reveal some interesting information previously overlooked…
The windows all have a subtle pediment beneath the drip molding. The return of the molding at right was hacked off by vinyl siding installers. The return at left is the only one on the house to survive the installation process, no doubt because there was not enough room to comfortably accommodate a reciprocating saw. Eventually all of the missing returns will be replicated.
In a truly fun discovery, two more stained glass windows are discovered in the attic! One of the dormer windows is currently fitted with old sheets of plexiglass, so we are assuming that the windows belong in that location. Obviously, they need restoration.
With my flash working again, I take the camera down to the basement for a better image of the graining on the doors which formerly connected the dining room to the front parlor. It’s kind of wild stuff! We will eventually attempt to replicate this technique in the dining room and parlors where woodwork has been painted over.
Also in the basement, this old screen door may well be the best surviving remnant of the original dark green used on select areas of the exterior.
A curious curved passage (worthy of a Nancy Drew mystery) winds around a corner in the basement. Interestingly, it is ramped. The long board was presumably placed there to bridge the frequently damp dirt floor. This ramp was probably an afterthought as the interior brick foundation wall shows evidence of having been broken to allow passage through it. This area was likely just a crawlspace when the house was built… the curved passage was carved out later.
At the top of the curved ramp is this low-ceilinged nook, complete with the mysterious folding stair. After much head-scratching and scrutinizing, I am fairly certain that this stair originally led to the attic. I believe that it was likely re-puposed after 1895 when the addition was built with a real staircase leading to the attic. This stair may have been moved to the basement as late as c. 1960 (but it was probably much earlier). The top is nailed to the floor joists above, so it is fixed and does not fold. There are no hinges at the top, either… it has no doubt seem some modifications since being repurposed.
Detail of hinged center section.
Above the stair, a trap door had been cut into the floor. It is covered above with a rug and miscellaneous stuff, but I will explore this in more detail in the future. Two of the ceiling joists have had significant chunks carved out of them — apparently to create some headroom. One of these notches is seen here at the upper right. Was that done when the trap door and stair were put in? Is the small window a replacement for a door to the outside? Why is there a ramp here? So many questions!
The plastic bags seen here are resting on the landing of the original stair to the attic. It appears that the landing and top three treads were built like a conventional staircase but the lower section folded up. I believe that the two rectangular holes seen beneath the bags were for hinges attached to the top of the folding stair.
The top three treads as seen from the attic. The opening was enclosed with some kind of panel board roughly around 1960 and the space below converted to a clothes closet.
This portion of the attic is over the two front parlors. The “floor” is made of 2×4 lay-in ceiling tiles, presumably an effort at insulation. Splinters of wood appear to be remnants of earlier wood shingles, likely dropped when roofers recently removed decades of roofing. The wood roof appears to have been stained or painted a dark green, but I am not certain that these shingles were the originals… they may have been an early replacement after a long-ago fire.
In another part of the attic, a charred rafter attests to a fire in the distant past. This area is above the kitchen. Newspapers appear to serve as some sort of insulation attempt.
More printed material stuffed into attic rafters! I’m surprised that this survived the roof installation earlier this year.
Downstairs, a closet in the back parlor holds a secret! The closet was added around 1960 when a corner of the back parlor was boxed in and the room was converted to a bedroom. A built-in cabinet in the back of this closet is of uncertain purpose. It sits above the built-in china cabinet in the dining room on the opposite side of this wall. A chimney is at right (between the cabinet and corner). A circle may be seen under the wall paper indicating the former flue location for the wood-burning parlor stove. I suspect that the china cabinet in the dining room once looked more like this, only lower. The present china cabinet looks like a freestanding kitchen cupboard from the 1890’s.
This cabinet in the pantry off of the kitchen appears to have been relocated. I suspect that it was originally in the kitchen itself, or perhaps moved from within the pantry to make room for a washer and dryer when the pantry was converted to a laundry room c. 1960.
The base of the cabinet holds a bin, at right. The diagonal beadboard panels are 1880’s! so
The inside of the door shows the original grained finish which likely was throughout the kitchen and pantry. The doors are fitted with screen, suggesting use as a pie cupboard. That’s it for now… I’ll have more updates when my back is less fickle.