Tristan’s New House is actually very old, dated to 1821. It was purchased in “move in” condition with most of the systems updated in the past 10 years. The house has experienced very little “damage” over its nearly 200 years and has a remarkable amount of original or very early trim and architectural details. The siding with only 3″ exposure appears to be very old because of the short (typically 4′) lengths and its application with cut nails. Much of the exterior architectural detail is original (excepting the modern doors that have been inserted!)
There are many, many built-ins around the center chimney area.
Beginning of new paint colors for an upstairs room.
The basement is, to say the least, very interesting. There are remnants of various storage areas (you can see where wooden shelves were inserted below in an area that was probably used for cool storage, perhaps of fermented products in crocks.)
The bricked area eventually intersects with the stone chimney foundation.
Original beaded boards in the stairway to the basement. There are two staircases to the upstairs, and two to the basement (all very steep!) This staircase appears to be in the original location, but is not original.
There is much original trim or trim that was updated perhaps around 1880 to reflect the then current Greek revival style.
The 5 fireplaces are mostly original, but have been sealed up on the inside and (unfortunately) also sealed with concrete at the exterior chimney level, making any possibility of restoration to working condition both expensive and unlikely. The interior plexiglas seals can, however, be improved on.
Original trim details (not including the vinyl replacement window!)
Upstairs fireplace. The hearth brick is original and still embedded in the original sand base without the use or mortar.
Fireplace just off the kitchen area which has been refaced with modern brick.
More trim details from the parlor.
Front staircase, very old if not original to the house.
The “keeping room” fireplace has also been refaced with modern brick although the original bake oven remains behind the door to the left. The raised hearth is, unfortunately, not original although the original one is probably just below the current one.
Not only are the stairs steep, but not quite large enough for a queen-sized mattress (although it did eventually go up.)
An unusual and very shallow later built-in that was used to cover a fireplace where the flue is now used for the furnace.
All the ceiling beams appear to be structural parts of the timber frame although there is evidence that they were once covered with lath and plaster, at least in the front rooms.
The photos below are from the week of September 9-17 when we held our family “vacation” at Tristan’s house to work together to get a lot of things cleaned up and done on the house that really required a concerted effort by all.
The initial focus was on the attic. Apparently there were once two “finished” rooms, presumably used for farm or perhaps domestic help, but only one portion remained finished as some sort of hobby room – mostly in very poor condition. The previous owners had left boxes of lath and plaster and other junk in the attic all of which needed to be removed.
There were many, many trips up and down the stairs, not to mention a lot of stuff that exited via the attic window.
The 15 yard dumpster would be level filled by the end of the week.
Tristan has chosen some very original and contemporary paint colors for the second floor while the first floor will be more traditional. The upstairs study in lavender shades is below, followed by Tristan’s upstairs bedroom in blue.
Later in the week we moved 56 bales of Roxul insulation (about 1.5 tons!) up to the attic for installation. The existing insulation plus 12″ of Roxul should give the attic an R-value of about 60 and have a huge impact on heating bills.
One of the upstairs bedrooms has had a “mystery” built-in cabinet near the fireplace held closed by high humidity. After some dryer weather and some concerted, but careful, effort we were able to open it. The inside is absolutely beautiful with nearly 200 year old hand planed surfaces that are nearly satin smooth to the touch! This and a lot of other features and trim details suggest that in 1821 this was a fairly “high end” house.
Back in the attic we decided to leave some of the attic walls that while not originally structural, non-the-less add some additional support to the roof structure.
We were able to lay out most of the insulation in the attic with some being left for Tristan to complete after adding a new vent for the upstairs bathroom.
When the “hobby” room ceiling was removed we did find a purlin that was significantly weakened by a roof leak (long since repaired from the outside), so it was boxed in with southern yellow pine and a new post (over a ceiling beam) to fully support that section of the roof.
Brendan and I also removed much debris from the basement, including a lot of light bulbs (apparently burned out ones were just dropped when they were replaced!), bricks, plumbing debris, etc. In the end the dirt basement floor was clean and mostly raked smooth.
Along with the insulation work, Tristan and I finished replacing some older wiring in the attic and added dual CAT-6 internet lines to nearly every room in the house.
More recent photos from 2018 are below.
At some point someone had “destroyed” the original keeping room fireplace by giving it a raised brick hearth with a concrete top. Fortunately the concrete was only about 2″ deep and was relatively easy to move (but very dusty!)
This also gave some insights into the center of the fireplace and its having settled to about 2″ lower than the edges. Apparently the original mason did not use adequate base materials in this area. There is no short-term fix, but apparently someone stabilized it with concrete (for better or worse, we’re not sure which.)
Further clean out of the hearth area.
New sand (nearly all old hearths were laid in sand.)
Antique brick hearth restored using left-over bricks from the basement.
Part of restoring the hearth was the discovery that not only this room, but every room in the house except one still had the original pine flooring under the “rental” carpets. Most of it is in reasonably good condition after nearly 200 years. The floors were sanded at some point (guessing 50-60 years ago) but retain a lot of patina which emerges when new finish is applied.
A small upstairs fireplace had its face brick plastered (why?) and Tristan has removed most of it (also very dusty!)
The kitchen floor is later pine which won’t be worked on until a future kitchen remodel, but it is much to be preferred over the not-so-expensive hardwood-look-alike laminate floor that was put in perhaps 10 years ago. The kitchen fireplace just to the left has also been resurfaced with newer brick, but they won’t be removed until further kitchen work because it appears that the original trim may not be behind the new brick (but one never knows.)