Last updated on September 1st, 2015
I PROMISED to keep you up to date on the restoration-work in the Music Room. This is the 1850 wing of our house that had been built atop a dubious — and downright dangerous — foundation. Crumbling stone had caused the floor to sag, resulting in cracked walls and floors. Now, one month and 4,000 pounds of cement later, the room, for the first time in over 100 years, is secure. The dusty details:
Welcome to my cellar. Here, contractors mortared the loose foundation-stone on the wing’s northeast side. This job took several days to accomplish, and, as I mentioned earlier, it required 4,000 pounds of cement.
True Confession: When I saw the above frame of freshly-poured concrete, thoughts of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre danced in my head. It took all the willpower I could muster not to place my hands — or write my name — in the wet cement.
The columns pictured above are temporary. Permanent supports will be placed after the workers finish jacking-up the wing.
Would you believe my hot water heater up and died the moment that restoration work commenced? Well, it did. Pictured above is the new hot water heater.
I seriously considered waiting until September to purchase a new furnace.
That is, until the temperature in the room plummeted to 30 degrees.
I could see my breath in the room.
Oh, Lordy, when it rains…it pours.
Acres of pressure-treated wood were brought in to create new floor joists. The original, 1850 joists had decayed, thanks to previous owners who had stuffed moisture-holding, rot-inviting insulation between the joists.
Old houses were not meant to be insulated. Ancient wood must “breathe.”
Oh. If you look at the photo above, you’ll notice iron jacks on the right. These are used to lift the floor. The floor in the music room needs to be raised approximately 4 inches.
You haven’t lived until you’ve witnessed the initial jacking-up of a 163-year-old room. Nerve-wracking doesn’t begin to describe it. As I listened to the creaking and groaning of the floor, I prayed the ceiling — which has elaborate plasterwork and a center medallion — would not be damaged. And it wasn’t. But we have many more “jacking-ups” to go. You see, the room can be lifted only a fraction of an inch at a time. Then the wood must relax before it can be manipulated again.
Good news! The first jacking caused one crack to immediately slam shut.
Bad news! Other cracks developed.
Good news! The new cracks are minor. If necessary, I can live with them.
And tight-fitting pocket doors are what we’re after. Then we can heat the room more efficiently.
However, the door on the left, which used to slide effortlessly, is now…stuck. Hopefully, a minor repair will fix this issue.
Emphasis on “hopefully.”
You wouldn’t believe the dust that soared through the floorboards and into the room while the contractors worked below. And each time the contractors came upstairs (which was absolutely necessary — I don’t mean to complain here), they deposited the mud from their boots on the pantry floor…the dining room floor…and the music room floor.
Consequently, my best friend and dancing partner throughout the restoration-ordeal has been…a Rubbermaid mop. I fill the mop’s receptacle with highly-diluted white vinegar. The solution does wonders for the 19th century floors in this house.
Well. The architect says we’ve “saved” the music room. And that is music to my ears. For we love this house, and feel it is our duty to maintain and preserve it for future generations.
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