It’s been a few weeks since my last update on the 78 Main St Renovation, and a lot has changed. Don Robert’s crew (Wayne, Aaron, and Bruce) have almost completed the framing of the new roof and walls within the old structure. David Dow (Double D Electric) has a permanent electrical connection to the house and some temporary outlets for us to use. We’ve also made some really good progress on the Solar Collector heating system (look for solar collector pictures and details in the next blog).
I knew very little about historic preservation when we bought this house. My least favorite subject in school was history. I always thought of myself as high-tech and modern. The first two houses that my husband and I bought (and where we raised our kids) were both new construction. I’ve never been nostalgic for “the good old days” or cared much to browse through antique shops.
But, I have to say, this has to be one of the best ways to spark an interest in history — buy an old home and start a renovation project. Dig up old granite that was cut by hand and used as a foundation on a nearby building. Find hand made nails holding together the wood frame and old bottles buried in the yard that date from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. What was in this jar? Was it a medicine or a preservative? What other buildings were on the property and what were they used for? Fun questions when they really ‘hit home’.
It has been great to see the old frame and the new frame come together. The roof system needed serious shoring up. There had been a fire up there 9 or 10 years ago (the last time the house was occupied). Below are some pictures of the new roof rafters shoring up the old and the new collar ties.
The picture on the left shows the whole new rafter and collar tie system. The new ceiling for the third floor is 9′ high (which is great!). The middle picture is a head-on view of a rafter where you can see the old roof rafter and sheathing next to the new ones. The picture on the right shows a detail view of one rafter section. Here you can see the rafters that are sistering the old ones as well as secondary rafters that are used to create the 22″ spacing we need from the sheathing to the ceiling sheetrock for R80, packed cellulose insulation.
The third floor needed much more work than the first and second. We weren’t able to save it. So we constructed a new floor and saved much of the original boards to use in patching up the first or second floor and for making stair treads. The second and third floor needed microlam beams and columns as additional structural elements.
The left picture and middle picture below show the beams being lifted and moved into the building. The right picture shows the beams in place on the second floor.
The lower left picture shows the placement of the third floor system onto the top of the existing frame. In the middle picture you can see the old stairs (far left of the picture) which were located right at the main entrance. The picture on the right shows the new stair system which is now located at the back of the house.
On the first and second floor the crew has begun building the wall inside the wall, which will give us 12″ for packed insulation for R40 in the walls. More pictures as the framing finishes.
I’m very happy that we can save as much of the old building, roof and slate as we can. The embodied energy of an existing structure is sometimes difficult to quantify, but it is wonderful to be able to save it.
So I may not have liked history as a subject in school, but I have noticed over the years that I can read a good historic novel or see a movie set in the 1800’s and I enjoy learning about the history as much as the characters and the plot. If I can see myself as a participant in history or try to understand how people in earlier generations lived in my house, it makes history much more exciting and brings it into the present.