Pennsylvania Limestone Farmhouse Renovations to an 1863 farmhouse built of limestone

April 3, 2011

Not Sure That We Should Have Done This…

Filed under: Living room,Stone house restoration — Duane Diefenbach @ 8:19 am

So this weekend we started on Phase III of our project even though Phases I & II are far from completed. We gutted our old living room in the stone part of the house (it will become our dining room). The reason for this was that a trailer for refuse was available to take the gutted materials. Also, if I am going to restore the windows and front door I need to have them fully exposed from both inside and outside the house.

The interior of the living room was insulated and covered in sheetrock by building a wall with 2x4s inside the room (making it about 8″ smaller in its interior dimension.  When we started it looked like this:

As you can see, some demolition has already occurred. In previous posts you can view the exposure of the original passageway to the basement (see February 2011) and the making a window into a doorway to the new addition (see March 2010).

Work started by removing the tile ceiling and ripping of the sheetrock to remove any insulation and then removing the framing.

When you take apart a house you start to better understand what happened to it… like how did they wire this place if you shut off a circuit to the living room and some of the lights upstairs also go off? It’s because things are linked together in very strange ways.

When the house was “stabilized” in 1989 (and the rooms were framed, insulated, and covered in sheetrock) a lot of the wiring was “updated” by routing new wires behind the ceiling tiles and routed back into the original wiring. I believe I have now removed the last of the old wiring in this house.

You can also figure out other older changes as well.  This room had wainscot about 4′ high around the room based on photos from the 1950s and 1960s. However, the “updating” in 1989 ripped out this wainscot but it turns out it was not original to the house. It was probably added sometime before the 1950s (?) because underneath is wallpaper and original milk painted baseboard. The 4 layers of wallpaper had some printing on the borders that I bet I may be able to date.

The top layer had this design and the label “York Paper”

The layer below was labeled “Art Wall Paper Mills, Chicago” with perhaps a pattern “R1065”

The third layer down was labeled “Richard Rose, Beverly, New Jersey”

The bottom layer had no label but was a fleur-de-lis design

I am guessing that the top layer of wallpaper is from the early 1900s, however, because one section of the wall (what would have been below the wainscot) had boards nailed over the plaster lathes, along with cloth “wallpapered” to the wall, and on top of everything was wallpaper. I also suspect men shaved in this room and dumped their dull blades down behind the wainscot because we found a number of old razor blades in this part of the wall.

We now also know that some plaster repair was done sometime after 1930 because I found a 1930 Pennsylvania license plate in the wall. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remove it because it was on the side of the wall facing the other room.

So now the former living room (to become our dining room) is, for the most part, gutted. Thus endeth the beginning of Phase III and we return to Phase I & II. Here’s what our new dining room looks like, and will look like for quite a while…

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