Pennsylvania Limestone Farmhouse Renovations to an 1863 farmhouse built of limestone

January 26, 2013

Back to the Old House

Filed under: Living room,Stone house restoration — Duane Diefenbach @ 5:57 pm

Holidays and other projects in the shop have stopped any progress on the new part of the house. Although now that it’s a cold, snowy day we decided to tackle preparations for restoring the original staircase in the house.  This involved first cleaning our the remainder of our “junk” out of 2 closets that were created in the 1950s (where the staircase used to enter the second floor) and the upstairs hallway. This area has pretty much been a disaster since we gutted the downstairs room that contained a bookcase where the stairs used to be (see this post).

So the task was to remove the floor installed upstairs (see photo below) as well as the interior walls and cedar-chip paneling from the closets. Then we needed to put a header and supports in the basement under the first floor, and then a temporary header with jacks to raise the the second floor – because when the staircase was removed they also removed the load-bearing support for the second floor. It was why Ethan’s old room and the hallway was like a trampoline and it had about a 1″ slope over 6 feet.



Below is a photo where the staircase used to end at the second floor. We (Ethan and I) have gutted the interior and started removing the floor. The musket leaning by the doorway is in case the Rebels attack (this house was built during the Civil War). And after everything was removed and you can now drop from the second floor to the basement, if you want.  Something we need to fix before guests with little kids visit.




There is actually a remaining top step, which is simply 1″ pine that is well worn. Also, I discovered a piece of original woodwork used as a ship for the framing installed in the 1950s. I am not quite sure where it was used in the house but it is only 1″ pine that had mortises cut in it along with a dado and a bead trim.  I am thinking it was part of a door frame. But the mortises are quite delicate for a doorway.  Anyway, when we peel more of the 1950 changes to the house we might be able to figure it out, but it is the first piece of woodwork in the house that actually has an embellishment to the trim.


So now that everything had been gutted and hauled outside into the back of the truck, we set up a header and jacks to remove some of the slope in the 2nd floor. We won’t be able to make everything level but more importantly we can restore some support and remove much of the bounce upstairs.Right now there is only about 1/2″ of slope over 6 feet!  Over the next few days I may each day jack up the floor a bit more, but not by much.




So that’s where we stand. Now we are hoping to get Lee Cowan to come back and rebuild the staircase.

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