The 1880’s farmhouse we looked at last month is scheduled for demolition this week. Jim and I got there first to save what we were able to. If you don’t want to see sad images, just skip this post. I understand.

We salvaged all of the doors and their surrounding casings, all of the 4-over-4 and 2-over-2 window sash, the wide beaded board ceilings of the first floor, and a few other items.

I also took the opportunity to do some surgery on the base of the chimney in order to show its construction. This type of chimney is quite common and found wherever economy of time, labor and material was important.

The house was already looking a bit rough before we started. For some reason I forgot to show the garage in the first post about this house…

The garage was created by adding on to the rear kitchen wing. One wall was entirely removed to make the space larger. Half of the original kitchen floor remained — the rest is dirt. A small room to the right served as a pantry. The original wood roof shingles of the kitchen wing can be seen here.

A closer view of what was left of the original kitchen. The door at the extreme left was boarded shut — it connects with the “new” kitchen (which was likely the original dining room).

The door between the two kitchens is removed and waits to be carried to the truck. Hinges still cling to the left casing board. An old blanket occupied the space between the door and the screen door. The casing around the door beneath the stair has been removed. Jim removes surface wiring from the walls and ceiling prior to our removal of the beaded board.

The battened door from the “Circus Room” waits outside to join the others. Again, the hinges are kept intact with the attached casing board. The door which covered the stairwell is behind it.

Four-over-four window sashes wait on the porch to be loaded. Jim found a small porcelain pan behind the sink cabinet… it will also be put into use once again.

A cold joint in the wainscot along the back wall of the parlor reveals a former window location. It was likely removed when the garage was added.

The parlor door had long been covered up. The upper portion had been covered with wallpaper which was later painted.

Beneath the paper termites had been at work.

We took the door anyway as it had panels which could be used to repair the damaged panels of the other front door. A simple, but beautiful, screen door had been nicely preserved in the wall. We already have a place in mind for it…

In order to retrieve the antique screen door, Jim removes the yellow replacement siding which covered it only to find asphalt siding (resembling brick) beneath that!

Back inside, I decide to reveal the support shelf of the chimney. Many chimneys were constructed this way as it saved time, labor, materials and interior wall space. This chimney had two flue openings on the first floor; one for the parlor (now papered over) and one for the dining room (later used for the “new” kitchen’s cook stove).


A pry bar easily bit into the relatively soft plaster. Water stains show that the roof flashing around the chimney outside has been leaking.

Lath gave form to the open space between triangular support brackets.


With plaster and lath removed, the brackets are visible for the first time in over 130 years. Note the use of tiny scraps of lath to clad the sides of the brackets… waste was not as much of an option in the past as it is today.


The brick was laid in a bed of mortar directly upon a thick wood shelf.


The underside of the shelf and a good view of plaster “keys”. When plaster is applied to the lath, it oozes through the spaces. When dry, these keys form a tight bond with the lath and strengthen the wall surface. When keys are broken, plaster may fall.


Well, that was fun! Now it’s time to get back to work. I lay a few sheets of flake board on the parlor floor before setting my ladder up… the floor is quite spongy from termite damage. In order to start the process of salvaging the ceiling, I pry the end of one board where it is exposed. This necessitates the sacrifice of the board’s tongue, but other boards should come out more intact.


I worked in the parlor while Jim tackled the kitchen. With windows either opened or removed, massive amounts of dust swept through the rooms each time a board came down. Yes, we brought along good quality dust masks!


We were surprised that the termites did not appear to have made it into the second floor’s joists… they looked very good.


By the end of the day we had retrieved all that we could (even the vintage refrigerator!). Much of the wainscot was damaged by either glue (when covered with linoleum) or termites, so we left it. I had wanted to retrieve the chamfered porch posts, but because they had been bolted to fence posts they were going to be very time-consuming to extract without damaging them further. And we were both really, really, tired. And dirty. I took a few more photos for the final time.

Goodbye, friend.

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