Progress at the Keys House has been slow recently, and the things that have been accomplished have been primarily of a maintenance-oriented nature. Boring stuff which itself necessitates further work to mitigate the damage done in the process of fixing other stuff. During the winter months both sides of the corner lot were excavated by the city to facilitate the replacement of aging water mains. While this needed to happen, it created more work in that we’ll have to establish new grass in a good chunk of the yard. Ordinarily this would not be so bad but we’re in a drought right now which shows no sign of going away in the foreseeable future. It’s a semi-arid climate to begin with and this doesn’t help.

On the upside, however, the new work created the perfect opportunity for us to replace the aging water supply line from the main to the house itself. This required a third trench from the street to the house and more disruption to the lawn. Not that it was a great lawn previously, but at least the weeds and marginal grass kept the dirt from blowing away! This new trench required removal of a section of fence (it was ugly anyway; no big loss) which might or might not be replaced with something else.

Most of the winter was spent working on projects other than the Keys House. Understandably, Jim wanted to spend his time finishing up our new “outhouse” more than driving to town to work in a house with no functioning plumbing. Now that the weather is better, we’ll both pick up where we left off on the exterior (in addition to doing something about all the dirt in the yard). After more than a year on the tree trimmer’s waiting list, we were happy to get some potentially dangerous branches removed. One was a threat to a neighboring house while another was a problem waiting to happen for our house. The roof cresting is now complete! And the house gained an old pump organ…

In the course of replacing the water main, some of the old sidewalk was removed. The walk along the west side had previously terminated in one awkward step down to the walk along the south side. The new walk is slightly ramped instead. I kind of liked the old walk better, but this one will be easier to shovel.

Yuck. More lawn to fix when I’d rather be doing something else. Ladders temporarily block a big hole in the ground where a fence previously stood.

The cresting is complete!

This is one of two wrought iron boot scrapers which we presume to be original to the house. Fortunately when the concrete porch was poured in the 1950’s someone valued them enough to retain them.

A close-up of Jim’s restored sawtooth gable detail.

The east side of the house remains as it was when we started the project over two years ago. This is the last bit of vinyl and aluminum remaining. Hopefully I can remove it this summer. The sawtooth gable detail has yet to be installed on the north side. The ugly and dilapidated deck-thing will eventually be replaced with something more respectful of the house itself.

I’m somewhat partial to the large tree which was recently trimmed; it’s old enough to have been here before Mr. and Mrs. Keys moved to Washington state. The tree looks good enough from a distance…

…but looks somewhat butchered when viewed closer up. It has some issues, but will hopefully live for many more years.

The dining room has become a de-facto hallway/workshop/storage area. The holes for insulation have all been drilled. These holes will allow insulation to be blown into the ceiling of the adjacent bedroom (an early addition with lower ceiling height). The PVC tube will allow the cavities to be filled from end to end. A makeshift antenna supported by the light fixture allows a vintage 70’s AM/FM stereo receiver to actually receive stations worth listening to!

When researching the Keys House history, we learned that the Keys family were practicing Christian Scientists and that weekly services were held in the house. We also learned that organ music was an integral part of their services during the period. Therefore, we began looking for an organ and found this one several months ago. It will have a future spot in the north parlor. That’s it for now; I hope to have some more colorful updates during the summer!

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