You just never know what horrors are lurking beneath seemingly innocuous surfaces in a house (old or new) until you begin to investigate. The last few weeks have revealed numerous issues which will need to be resolved, but have also revealed many happy discoveries!

Though the time we’ve recently been able to devote to the Keys house has been minimal, we’ve still made progress. The first bits of the original color scheme have appeared, portions of the vinyl siding are being removed, and decades of misguided interior finishes are headed for the dump. Let’s take a look at some of the recent discoveries and progress:

The North wall will be my practice wall. The most damaged by hail, it seemed appropriate to begin with what I refer to as “Vinyl Abatement” (like lead abatement or asbestos abatement… vinyl seems to fit right in).

Beginning at the top, I was surprised to find that there was no horizontal trim board or molding to mark a transition from the metal gable shingles to the wood clapboards. I was also disappointed to find that the metal shingles did not extend further down to rest on the caps of the corner boards. It is what it is!

Somebody put a ton of nails in both the flimsy foam “insulation” and the vinyl itself. Fortunately I have an antique nail puller to help with the many stubborn or broken nails.

Making progress!

At the base I discovered that an original drip molding which capped the wood water table (also sometimes refered to as a ‘skirt board”) had been savagely hacked off by the vandals vinyl installers. This will be a time-consuming repair — and it will have to be done all around the house.

Breathing freely again! Except for the soffits, which are next.

My first peek at the angular eave of the jerkinhead gable (replete with old wasp nests). Its dirty, but the wood all seems to be in good shape.

Back inside, rolling up an old carpet in a bedroom reveals c. 1900 linoleum which appears to be in good condition beneath the carpet glue. We will try to remove the glue and keep the linoleum.

In the back parlor, my curiosity was getting to me. Many of the walls had been relieved of old wallpaper in the 1960’s, and I wanted to see if any historic wallpaper had survived beneath this paneling. This photo shows some of the previous owner’s furnishings.

Hmmmm. Not great, but it can be repaired. Happily, I found multiple layers of historic wallpapers here. When wiring was upgraded in the 1960’s, the electrician just knocked crude holes in the wall to fish wire, knowing that the wall would be paneled over. The plaster appears to have been damaged by a former roof leak.

Jim pulled up the burnt-orange carpet in this room and scraped the floor of carpet pad. It is an oak floor dating to the 1920’s or so. We may remove it to get back to the 1880’s floor even though it is of lesser quality… not sure yet. The wall at the right is a 1960’s closet which will be removed.

In the bathroom, Jim prepares to remove carpet, a drop ceiling and wall paneling.

Much better! The high ceilings in the house make the rooms feel bigger than they are. The linoleum appears to date to the 30’s or 40’s.

This linoluem remained free of adhesive under the bathtub. I’m guessing early 1950’s? The tub appears to have been installed in 1974 judging by the old copies of the Omaha World Herald which were found beneath it. The tub will be going away soon.

A cheerful bit of wallpaper can be seen where a window covering was once mounted… possibly venetian blinds.

Back outside, I tried to match the original siding color to a fan deck. We’re going with “Mirrored Willow”.

Jim installs a corner porch support! We painted it off-site and brought it back. While working on it, we made new discoveries about the paint distribution; this replicates the original look of both the front and side porches. We now believe that the olive trim color and the siding color are actually the same. The house will be dark and brooding at some point in the future, just as it was 134 years ago!

Repairs and painting, however, will take many years.

Antique molding replaces that which had been lost. A little caulk and touch-up paint and this will be good for a long while!

Vinyl has now been removed from a portion of the side of the house; we are trying to get this porch area done now as it is so highly visible. This photo was taken on August 27th.

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