Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tearing Off Shingles - Messy Work

Dad Ripping Old Shingles off Front Porch Roof

Dad is up and down the ladders all day long. He is a great worker. You rock Dad!

Removing the Moss Covered Old Cedar Shingles

My newphew Paul Ashley scrapes the old cedar shingles off the porch roof. Real bull work. Takes strength and stamina to get it done.

The Front Porch is Looking Good

Restoration of the Front Porch - June 2008

My goodness, doesn't look like the same porch, does it? We'll have to wait until summer 2009 to rebuild the railings, spindles, ballasters, and steps. While Dad and Jon worked on the porch, I continued the long process of scraping the exterior. Each section I finished, sanded, primed, and put first coat of color.

Replacing the Porch Floor, Tongue & Grove

During the summer, Mom and Dad visiting us three times. Each time staying a week. They worked their hearts out. I am so proud of them, and forever grateful they are eager to help us with the restoration of our old Victorian. Each time they visited, we were able to pull ahead in our projects by at least a month.

Shearing Off the Base of the Porch Columns, Rebuilding Them

My father Gale Harriman restoring porch columns. Dad removed the rotted bottoms of each column. He replaced the rotten area with 6' matching block, then covered each block with a masonite shroud masking the repair. He restored each one in the same manner and moved through the process like a skilled surgeon. I thought it was fascinating watching him work.

Rebuilding the Front Porch - June 2008

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

West Side of the Front Porch - near the entrance door to the dining room

Decaying Porch - Not Much Left to Save

Old Porch Railings and Spindles

Watch Your Step - You Could Fall Through

Front Porch Decay

More Deconstruction of the Front Porch

Review of Decaying Front Porch

Photo taken March 2007. You can see husband Jon taking a long hard look at what it will take to restore the house. The porch roof old cedar shakes will soon reveal itself in spring covered with green moss.

Decay of the Front Porch

The rails, spindles, and ballasters. Steps are toast, and upon closer inspection we realize new material is required.

Deconstruction of Front Porch - June 2008

The rails and spindles were removed. The spindles are original and very light weight and fragile. My husband's cousin made new 2-piece rails for us. They'll be reinstalled summer 2009. We'll try to save as many spindles as possible and the rest we'll have to turn new ones.

Deconstruction of the Front Porch

Black carpenter ants and moisture brought decay to the wrap around front porch. The posts were rotted from the base upwards about 12",

Re-building Front Porch - June 2008

We are the third owners of this house, purchasing it in April 2007. The second owner Thomas Quien purchased the house in December 1917. Here is a photo around 1925 of our house. Center is Thomas Quien and his granddaughters Donna and Mary Quien.
While working on the front porch this summer the old steps were in terrible shape and were part of the deconstruction process--and they were much narrower than those shown in this 1925 photo of our house. The new steps will be built in the summer of 2009 and will be wide like this photo.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"After Photo" The Music Room/Office

The wall color Valspar "Barely Brown"
This is not a pretty photo, but it is a pretty room--and will be better later when we can displace some of the furniture to the upstairs. The upstairs is under construction right now, so we have to keep all the extra furniture downstairs. There is furniture every where!
How about these walls, compared to the previous photo? The restored walls are super smooth. Novices at skim coat plastering, we learned that it ain't rocket-science, it just takes patience and time.
I love the window sheers. Purchased $12.95 a panel at Walmart. Honestly, it wasn't the price that did it for me, it was all about the gauzy fabric, the highly decorated scallops, and the fact that they are an ultra soft polyester and washable. I put matching sheers in this room, the living room, and the library.

Blowing Insulation from the Inside Out

January 15, 2008. Here's the music room/office. My husband was busy drilling holes the size of golf balls at the top of the walls. He rented equipment and blew-in insulation.
Since the interior walls were going through resurfacing it seemed the most economical way to insulate the old house.
My first impression after insulating the house was, "my goodness it is quiet--can't hear things going on outside".
We used to hear some traffic noise from time to time, but the insulation and new storms and screens my husband installed late fall of 2007 sure muffled the outside noises.
He installed a blanket of insulation 18 inches thick on the attic floor also.
I'll follow up with an "after photo" of this room.

Skim Coat Plaster Repairs

Here's a look at the process of skim coat plaster repairs. The walls downstairs are 10.5 ft. Scaffolds were used during the rennovation. Constant vacuuming required to keep up with the dust. Otherwise we'd being blowing dust around all the finished painted walls in the other rooms.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Before & After Library - Repairing Plaster

We are using the Library downstairs right now for our bedroom. And, much to our lament every bit of furniture is stuffed into our downstairs, while we work on the bedrooms and new bathroom upstairs.
The finish color of the Library is "Bewitch"--I think of it as the color of a beautiful lake.
This shot of the library turned into bedroom is a bit cramped, but for the year 2008-2009 it will be our only finished bedroom space.

Reparing Original Plaster Walls

Our moto: "You can save a lot of money doing the work yourself."

We had a plaster contractor from Appleton look at the walls and ceilings in the house (3,000 sq. ft). He wanted $26,000 to put 1/4 drywall over the ceilings and walls. Another plaster contractor looked at the house and said, "The walls are in fine shape--repair the cracks and skim coat". Having the second opinion saved us $25,000.

It hasn't been easy, but my husband tackled each room. If you stick with it, it takes about a month's work per room. My husband put up new drywall ceilings. Each crack was repaired with Durabond plaster and flexible web tape. Sanded, then ready for skim coat plaster. Then sanded, then second layer of skim coat plaster. Then sanded, and evaluated for areas requiring more plaster, then sanded.

After the plastering was complete and the woodwork washed and taped, Zinzer 1-2-3 latex primer over the ceiling and walls. Two coats worked best. First coat really sopped up the paint, and of course second coat much less.

Two topcoats of latex. The kitchen is Valspar "Aged Photo" Tan, the dining room "Flaming Sunset" Red, "Bewitch" in the library, and "Barely Brown" in the Office/Music Room. A custom mix of "Barely Brown" and Brunnette" is the living room color.

We topped off each room with a double molding my husband picked out. The molding was the last thing installed in each room.

c. 1915 South Bend Malleable Wood Cook Stove

Baking Bread on the old cookstove January 2008. It doesn't great much better than the smell of fresh baked bread.

This is a South Bend Malleable Wood Cook Stove, c 1915. If this old stove could talk, eh?

In the fall and winter 2007 we used the old cook stove to keep warm and to heat up our lunch while working on the old house.

P.D. Beckwith Round Oak Stove M-16, c1915

The first day we looked at the house, our realtor showed us the two beautiful stoves.

This is a P.D. Beckwith Model M-16, c1915 "Round Oak", stored in an upstairs closet. In the east bedroom there is a half chimney and we believe the stove may have been originally there, or downstairs in the living room southwest corner. The later is where we will re-install the Round Oak.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fixing the exterior . . . June 2008

So, here's what can happen in a year. A year of very hard work.

We made an offer to buy the House . . . Feb 18 2007

A Snowy February and March 2007 turned into an early spring. April 16, 2007 we closed on the house. A week later the previous owner's adult grandchildren had an auction. The day was sunny and quite warm. We agreed not to enter the house until after the family auction.

We were upset at the auction when the auctioneer sold our two screen doors. Many things weren't quite right at the sale. The carpetbaggers were busy!!

2007 was probably the hardest for my husband. He worked long days with a full time job, mowing two huge lawns.

First project at the old house was getting water to the property. My husband used two 6 ton jacks to remove the sand point from the well. It moved 6 inches an hour. Like pulling a cork from a wine bottle. The damaged sandpoint was replaced, and new pump added. He hauled out the 80 gallon hot water heater, and installed a new 40 gallon unit.

The next project mid June 2007 was repairing and repainting the steel roof. We found paperwork in the house telling us the steel roof was installed new in the mide 1950s. Also with the same paperwork was a letter addressed to previous owner congratulating him on becoming President of our community.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"After Photo" Northeast Corner of Kitchen

My mother came up with the great idea of putting the refrigerator into the kitchen wall. We borrowed space from a large closet in the bathroom (bathroom door to the right of this photo). Originally, the large closet was a stairway down to the basement. There was enough space left in the large closet to still provide a small closet in the bathroom. Mom, you're so smart, I love ya.

"Before Photo" Northeast Corner of Kitchen, Feb 18, 2007

Here is one of the "before" photos of the kitchen taken February 18, 2007 at the first "walk through". Seven minutes after entering the house we said, "we'll take it". Of course we already knew we wanted the house even though we'd never seen the interior.
This is the northeast corner. The next photo is the "after photo" of the same northeast corner.

South wall of kitchen, door to summer kitchen

The walls look quite gold in this photo. Actually the color "aged photo" looks more like "coffee with cream" to me.

The kitchen works so well for us. It isn't big, 13.8 by 15.3. Love the countertops, the stainless sink, and drawer dishwasher. I haven't found the right products yet for backsplash above the counters and range.
Here it is, the west wall window where door no. 4 used to be.

West Wall of Kitchen, Electrical Wiring, etc.

West wall of the kitchen with new light fixture hung. The electrical upgrade was finished in the kitchen. Husband continued to re-wire the entire house during the fall and winter months of 2007.

Built In Hutch in Kitchen

The kitchen walls were painted "aged photo" (Valspar), crown molding added, and the hutch sanded and painted "lamp black" latex. This photo taken during the winter months 2007 before Christmas. The kitchen cabinets were under construction.

Kitchen After

And here's the kitchen going through deconstruction. Window left is boarded up, and new window installed in the center of the west wall.

Kitchen Before

The built in hutch is a beautiful feature in the old kitchen. We kept it because its function cannot be beat, and of course it is always wonderful to keep as much of the old house as possible. Again take note we removed the window next to the hutch and replaced it with an upper cabinet.

The finished kitchen when we moved in March 2008. Ed Thompson of Pine River, a master cabinet maker made the beautiful cabinets. The wall color is Valspar "aged photo". Thanks to Dad and husband for the long long hours of deconstruction, and reconstruction for a beautiful new kitchen that really looks like it belongs to this old house.

West Wall of Kitchen Under Construction July 2007

This is the same west wall of the kitchen. The blue plaster from the 1950s kitchen was crumbling. There were 4 doors in the kitchen, one door to the summer kitchen, one door to the dining room, and one door to the bathroom. The fourth door on the west wall going out to the yard was eliminated. We needed light and we needed cabinets. The west wall became a focal point sink, granite countertops and customs cabinets. See next photo for results.

This is the west wall of the kitchen as we first saw it February 18, 2007.

We'd been interested in the house since we first saw it from the driveway in 2001. We contacted the owner Donna Osen and asked if she would be interested in selling the house. She said no.

We continued writing to Donna, and ocassionally telephoning her for the next six years. Each time she said no, but one time she gave us hope by saying "look--if I ever decide to sell the house you'll be the first person I'll call, ok?"

From 2001 to 2007 almost weekly we drove by the house on our way to get groceries in Stevens Point. Sometimes we would sit in the driveway a little while and just look at the house. Silly us! We always referred to the house as "our house". I remember telling a neighbor that my husband and I were smitten by the old house and we hoped someday we could buy it. The neighbor laughed at me and said, "yeah, you and about two hundred other people would like to buy that house".

During our trips by the old house we could see the wrap around porch was failing and the cedar shingles on the porch roof were covered with green moss. The house had been vaccant since the 1970s. The Quien daughters continued to heat the house during the winter, and have the lawn mowed though no one lived there.

The Thomas Quien Family, c1910

Barbara Osen, daughter of Donna Quien Osen loaned me this photo of her great grandparents (seated) Thomas and Maren Gurholt Quien. Standing left to right are her great aunts Bessie, Gusta, her grandfather Peter, and Ragnhild.
Her grandfather Peter Quien (pronounced Ka-Veen) married Ruth Danielson. They had two daughters Mary Jane Quien Fossum and Donna Quien Osen. As time went on the name Quien was pronounced "Queen".
Thomas Quien bought was the second owner of our home--purchasing it Dec 1917. Mary Jane and Donna kept their grandparents' home until their deaths. Mary Jane passed away in 1996, and Donna passed away in 2006. The Quien family owned our house for 90 years. We are the third owners, purchasing the house April 16, 2007.

  • In August 2008 I looked in the telephone book and found Oliver Wrolstad and phoned him. Oliver lives about 6 miles from us. I introduced myself and told him I am interested in the history of the Wrolstad family, in particular John Olson Wrolstad who built my house. Oliver said he could help me.
  • A couple weeks later my parents, husband, and I met Oliver for dinner and talked about his grandfather Halvor Wrolstad and his great uncle John Olson Wrolstad who built our house. Halvor and John Olson Wrolstad were brothers.
  • Oliver graciously loaned me his family photos and documents to scan. Here is one of the photos I scanned from Oliver Wrolstad's collection. It is John Olson Wrolstad in his civil war uniform. I told Oliver I've seen this photo before in a book and again on the Wrolstad his family website, but I only saw the photo. I've never seen this page written in Norwegian. There are four more pages following this one, each written in Norwegian. I don't know the book but have written to Vesterheim Norwegian Museum in Decorah IA. I'm looking forward to finding out what it says.