It’s no secret how much I love this old house.
Every layer of the modern world that is peeled away exposes more and more of the original house. Sometimes, though, all of that peeling exposes some pretty nasty problems. In an effort to solve the problem of the roller-coaster floors, Mat asked us to pull up all the flooring along the back quarter of the house (my future studio and the dining room) so he could get a look at what’s underneath – a modern addition and crawlspace attached to the back stone wall of the original house.
What has been discovered is some serious powderpost beetle damage in the hand-hewn sill plate of the original house. This means that those beautiful beams, each made from an entire tree, will have to come out and be replaced by new wood. I’m comparing it to a human hip replacement – the surgery is dramatic, but affords the patient a new lease on life.
It really is sad to tear out all this original stuff. Each hand-cut nail positively screams as it’s pulled out. Wood groans and cracks as it’s bent. The house calls out in agony.
Each one of those beams probably took a couple of men days and days to make using hand tools. I find myself standing in the basement whispering to the original fireplace, and patting the stones. “Don’t worry, I love you and it will all be OK in the end. I promise to take care of you.”
We did find one small surprise – pages from a 1932 newspaper spread out between two layers of flooring. I’ll try to post a few snaps later on.