An online diary about the restoration of my 1921 Colonial Revival style house in Chester, South Carolina.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

June Bug vs. Hurricane

(Hopefully) you've been checking for updates to 118 Henry Street, wondered what happened and (wishfully) wanted some more. The short answer to the "what happened?" is we lost our internet connection for 5 weeks or so. Well, that's not exactly the true story. while it took only 1 day to terminate internet service with the local telephone company, it took the local cable company 3 weeks (no joking) to decide that the special mail offer didn't apply in Chester. And, oh by the way, there is no cable modem service AT ALL in Chester. Subsequently, we lost our position with the phone company and got on the "approximately 2 weeks" reconnection list. Note to self: in a small town, don't terminate your current internet service provider before you're sure your new internet service provider can deliver the goods.

With a renewed and stable internet connection comes a new side project in the restoration of 118 Henry Street; by end of year, our online diary will take up residence in a new location complete with domain name and, gasp, photographs. No matter how slowly, the wheels of fate do indeed continue to grind.

For a bit after losing an internet connection, work continued at a largely normal pace. Progress continues on the upstairs west bedroom despite finding a section of wall plaster that had loosed from the lath. A few drywall screws reattached and stablized the surface and patching plaster make relatively quick work of the crack. This time of year, with the leaves coming off the trees, the room is bright with sunlight continuously after 10ish or so in the morning until sunset.

De-Construction continues on the upstairs bathroom. All the paint has been scraped from the walls. About 1/3rd of the woodwork (not counting the window sashes) remain to be heat-gunned and scraped of paint. This last week, we removed the carpeting from both the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms. God bless PO's (previous owners) everywhere.

Just this weekend, we removed the carpeting from yet another room. Work in the dining room revealed more of the house's heart pine floors in beautiful condition. DeShawn has always called this room "the Green Room" because of the lime/avocado green paint that the PO's applied to the walls, woodwork, doors, built-in china cabinet (including brass drawer pulls), and windows. The green was somewhat tolerable with the grey/tan carpeting, but now, the reddish orange pine floors make the walls look like the color of glowing green pea soup.

The only carpet remaining in the original house is on the stairs and the hallway. Before we can take this up, I will need to have 5 door thresholds made to replace the ones discarded on carpet installation. Made of yellow pine, the thresholds are 4" wide and almost 3/4" thick. Strictly custom lumber yard. The floor in the rear addition is carpeted (of course) and, unfortunately, directly on the subfloor. We're going to have to leave it be for a while longer.

Speaking of the addition, the latex sealer/coating the PO's had put on the flat roof began de-laminating this summer. It lasted a whole 2 years. This is probably pretty good considering that latex sealer is not recommended for builtup bituminous roofs. Funny thing, it won't stick. Like most projects at 118 Henry Street, at least half of the time is spent de-constructing past efforts at repair or improvement. A 6 hour Saturday to remove the old latex coating with a pressure washer, and a 4 hour Sunday to apply an appropriate fiber based coating will get us thru the winter. A return engagement with the fiber based sealer next summer will set us good for 4 or 5 years. Sooner or later, I've got to tackle the flat parts of the reverse dormers that are also coated with the white latex.

We completed one of the side projects this weekend in addition to the carpet removal. Last summer, I rescued a table from the side of the road. The table's PO's had apparently used it as a shop table. There are several saw cuts in the edges of the top. Looks like a very bored dog chewed at the feet too. Old house, new furniture? Not on your life. I'm not so sure we should own expensive antiques, just old stuff. Anyway, finally got all the old finish sanded off of what appears to be maple(?) wood. We refinished with white pickling stain applied like paint. Carole will put the finishing touches on it, most likely, stenciled morning glory vines and flowers.

I had to buy a new orbital sander to finish the table. A couple of weeks ago was some kind of sun flare or moon phase or planetary alignment that caused several of my most used tools to fail miserably. Scratch one shopvac. Scratch one orbital sander. On the injured reserve list, the string trimmer (again), and, sigh, the lawn mower. Did I mention the chainsaw? The final tally was: new shopvac, new orbital sander, parts for the trimmer, water in the gas for the lawnmower, and fouled spark plug for the chainsaw.

Last weekend, I finally trimmed up the magnolia tree in Carole's side yard. Easily 60' tall and definitely 3 1/2' in diameter, big and old are appropriate adjectives. This task has been on the honey-do list for a good bit as several limbs at the 30' level touched the roof of her house. Said limbs provided squirrels a quick trip to her attic. Twelve hours over 2 days, 6 of which in the tree, are only the first part of the squirrel solution. Next is to repair the holes the rats with furry tails chewed in the roof eaves to get into the attic.

Random notes for those interested: 1) Lucinda Williams, 2) The Power of Full Engagement.

Next weekend is the annual Hillarity Street Festival in Chester. We will be preparing all week for our big city guests. Preps include mowing the grass (last time this year!), fixing the grill (a must if hotdogs are really on the menu), and cleaning house (like normal people do...not like house restorer's do).