Saturday, March 30, 2013

In which the building is vacated!

Wonderful surprise to drive into Belfast this morning and see that the previous owner had vacated.  He is gone and the shed is empty!  Yay

I can't believe it's all gone!

Taking a break from working this weekend while my mom is here.

Happy Easter Everyone!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

In which I had a bad day

I thought of not posting today because I personally had a bad day at Slum and Blight yesterday and I left frustrated and pissed off.  The previous owner has four days left to remove himself from the building and isn't even close.  I told Greg that I was changing the locks on Sunday night, but he calmed me down and said that would be a bad thing to do.  I will mention to the previous owner that weekly rent starts on Monday and is due before he can gain access to the building.  
By the way, he LOVES his new overalls!

Greg put in a locking door to the second floor where all our tools are and that made me feel better.  He also started removing the charred walls from back of the building where most of the old fire damage is located.  Everything is secure and stable with our new support beams, etc.  We decided to remove the wooden ceiling and walls in the front of the second floor and flirted briefly with saving the boards to be reused later.  I say briefly because upon removal of the first three, we noted that they were pretty rotted out.  I took down two boards and got rained on by what must have been a twelve pack of broken bottles and some animal nests made with burnt porn magazines and old Christmas tree branches (I kid you not) GROSS!  I had my hard hat, goggles and mask on, but REALLY??? ewwww.  This is going to take another week and some really dirty muscle work to get down.  

So after dusting myself off,  I decided to take down the shelves that were previously in the walk in closet / bedroom of the previous owner.  Until yesterday it was our tool closet.   What frustrated me was that the man can't maintain the building, but he can put 300 stripped screws into a shelving unit with hidden metal brackets that took me almost two hours to side.  I really wanted to get the old walls down and finally open up the second floor completely, but alas, the building kicked my ass and I surrendered...came home and had a nice hot shower and some soup.  

Today is a new day though!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

In which we have encouraging visitors, some interesting discoveries, and the stairs come down.

We love having intrepid friends who come by and exclaim "Holy Sh*t!" when they see the mess we have gotten ourselves into.  One such friend came by yesterday, telling us that he had clicked on Greg's  link to this here blog thingy and just had to come by and see for himself.  He got the whole tour and didn't shake his head once and tell us we were crazy.  He actually had a big smile on his face, like he knew what we were doing.  Thanks for stopping, reader...come by anytime.  

We also had a visitor whom we had called several weeks earlier and asked him to come by and look at the foundation.  As a mason, he has a great reputation.  It also helps that he knows us and knows our friends and is in-laws with one of our besties.  He has been dropping by for a few days when we happen to be gone from the building.  Finally, he found a scrap of wood and wrote "I WAS HERE......WOW!"  and put down his phone number.  
We called immediately and he came right over.  This particular gentleman has a lot of experience with Belfast real estate.  He told us of his conquests in town and kept marveling at how much space there was, at how every window had a view of something, and at how much work it would take us to get where we want to be.  Then we went to the basement to see the foundation.  The wall I wanted him to look at turned out to be original, and in not too bad shape, some loose concrete could come out and then repointing in places, and some foam insulation over top...same way we did our first cottage foundation wall, so I am familiar.  What I did not expect, or...a better way to put it is that I never thought about that the entire exterior wall of the basement is not a wall after all, but rather sheets of plywood and (more) cardboard!
So the red wall you see below at the level of the RV, is simply a plywood and cardboard wall and the building sits fairly straight on its original sill supported by cedar logs every 4 feet.  
If you know where I am going with this, you will understand why I am relieved and happy about that discovery.  For one, it makes putting in windows along this wall very easy.  two, the access to this area of the building is perfect for the heavy machinery needed to dig out and replace the concrete frost wall and build up from there.  Our wise friend also told us that we should replace the sagging beams at the same time as we will have the space open to the elements and it will be easier to have a 25 foot beam zipped right through the hole in the basement wall at that time.  He also conceded that the job would be better suited to a larger foundation specialist firm that had the heavy machinery already to come in and do the job.  He actually thought we may have "lucked out" about the foundation and told me it wouldn't cost nearly as much as I was thinking it would.  Anyway, the basement space is 25 x 50 and with nice windows that blend in with the building and perhaps an entrance on Federal Street, this will make an excellent retail space for downtown.

Our friend kept telling us that when we came up with the plan for spaces, we needed to be aware of all the potential access points in the building and create our interior spaces with mind towards how people will use the building.  He affirmed a lot of the ideas and plans we already had and affirmed what had to be taken care of first (the foundation and the beams) and the rest would fall into place.  He did tell us to get as much weight out of the building as possible and when we said we had removed about four tons of debris already, he had a big smile on his face.  Then he gave us a very sage piece of advice when he said..."working with old buildings like this, don't worry about getting the building square or perfect cause you will drive yourself crazy.  Do what the building will allow you to do to make it stable and leave it there."  This drives my perfectionist husband a bit crazy!  He also told us to take out the wooden room as the ceiling was sagging. He said that we should just take the building down to the studs since there wasn't anything historic left about the place.  
That made me sad, but knowing it's true.  We will number the boards and store them and decide if we want to put them back after getting all the electrical and insulating done.

We then went back to tearing out the stairs so we could leave the building knowing we made some more progress.  These are the steep, dangerous stairs from the second to the third floor.  I can't believe that they've been there for so long and were only attached to the floor above by one nail!
In the photo below, you can see the stairs in the very right of the photo behind that last section of sheet rock and lathing.
 Here is the scary photo of the stairs from the other side.  this whole heavy box of stairs is held to the third floor by one nail.  
with the wall part way down.  We decide to deconstruct the stairs board by board so it won't be as heavy when it comes down.  

and it comes down!

Yay, more light and we can really get a sense of the size of the space...1250 square feet with 8 windows.  Notice our temporary support beams to hold the third floor up!
 Lots of space!  We are holding out on taking those last two walls out on the right, because that is our tool storage area.

Project done. Time to go home!

Monday, March 25, 2013

In which there is progress and a hearing

Monday Evening Before and After Photos!

We got a couple of things done in the building this morning before attending a public hearing and panel discussion on Main Street Revitalizations around the state.  I lolly-gagged around the house for the morning, nursing the wound from my kitchen knife accident during last night's gluten free Asian food-making extravaganza.  Once I got to the building, Greg had started prepping the support beams that we were going to install on the second floor so that the third floor wouldn't come crashing down around us.  Greg promised me that once we got the supports in, I could go to town on the cardboard apartment walls in order to open up the second floor.  In typical guy fashion we got our crowbars out  (Greg favors the traditional crowbar, while I myself, favor the flat bar type. )  and decided the easiest way to get the temporary walls down was to just tug and push as hard as we could and pull them down...and that we did.    This dark and dingy wall came down and the once small enclosure became....

......this, and the boy was happy!

We took a short break after this, which became a much longer break as a state government hearing on downtown revitalization took several hours.  We learned a lot about what Belfast wants and needs from the folks most knowledgeable, and we are poised to try and provide more spaces for businesses on Main Street.....or we'll open a gay nightclub and a soup store..its a toss up!

In which we uncover a structural problem.

Well, that doesn't look good!  This is a shot of the corner support post of the main building, or lack of a corner support post because it has rotted away.  Some numb skull put plywood board over this corner of the building to hide it or to just put the problem out of their it has come to the point where the corner of the building is held together with boards and not much else!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

In which I reveal myself and both shit and shinola rain down upon us!

Suited up and ready to go for the day.  Our goal is to get the rest of the ceiling down today and then get it cleaned up. It is awfully dirty work which I can only handle for about 3 hours at a clip before I have to start cleaning it up.  I am now writing this from the comfy corner in my living room at 5:30 am the day after with a roaring fire going and very sore abs.  You see, Greg and I pretty much pulled the ceiling down by brute force.  Fun at the time, but painfully sore the next day.  We got the whole thing done though!

Greg has used his sewing talents to make us a 20' long tarp tube to use as a plaster chute.  It works really well and takes debris by the bucket full.  The industrial grade tarp cost us $28.00 at Ocean State (they have the best tarps!) and it took Greg about 2 hours to sew it.  We suspended it from the rafters on the inside and that keeps the "mouth" open and then tied it to either corner of the dumpster to keep its stable.  Wish we'd thought of it earlier as he walked buckets down three flights of stairs when he gutted the third floor.  We couldn't figure out how to get the extra length needed to get the plaster from the third floor window without spending a fortune!  Funny though, every person told us "the best and easiest" way to make a debris chute...and they were all different!

As previously mentioned, I have to start out with a clean work surface in the mornings.  So the first thing I did was create an art installation worthy of the DIA foundation with my debris from the day before.  Honestly though, if this were a DIA installation, the walls would all be stark white, the tarp perfectly flat and the pile of rubble would have exactly 6493 pieces of plaster in it. There would be cheese cubes. mini quiche, and white wine too. See the rubble chute suspended out the window? 

I somehow thought it would take all morning to clean the mess from the day before, but with two of us, we made short work of it and got the ceiling down with crowbars and a lot of grunting and huffing.  

What a mess!

Of Shit and Shinola

Not only did we have bat, bird, mouse, and squirrel shit rain down upon us, but Shinola too...with the bottle half full and all....gross!

Some of the other choice items joining the altar today are these: 

 I now know what John McCain wore as a kid: sanforized denim!

I posted this beauty on Facebook for about 2 minutes and then deleted it as tasteless.  But someone must have loved it sometime.  I found this lying on the floor, with no debris around it, like I was supposed to find it and add it to the altar.  Funny, I found the hair net in the debris along with the coffee cups.  Love how her boobs are balanced on the tray.
I'm saving this one to give to Larry Jones.  

 All cleaned up and our chores are all done.  Those two walls at the back of the building come out today.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

In which we create an altar to building memories and take down more ceiling

I worked in the building alone yesterday for the first time, taking down more of the ceiling on the second floor.  First I banged two support posts up in the middle of the room, just to be on the safter side.  This building is built like a fortress, but I want to make sure the third floor doesn't come crashing down on my head!  I briefly thought of pulling the nailers down all together, which would have crashed the section of the ceiling I was working on to the floor, all in one fell swoop, but that would've been too messy.  I have learned from previous jobs that the best way for me to work is in small batches that I can clean up easily before moving on.  I hate stepping on things besides floors, tripping over debris and tools on the floor.  Mostly I hate this because I am a clutz and will hurt myself on an old rusty nail or I'll step on a drill left on the floor and break it.  So my work area has to be clean before I can start.  In the photo here, I will be taking down the lathing and more plaster at the left of the photo.  By the way, I am dying to finally take the wall down where the upside door is (this was the cardboard apartment) to let more light in the space,. but I do like having a "secure" room for our tools.
I can't wait to ge this ceiling down!

Immediately, upon starting in on the ceiling, "things" start raining down from on high.  Bottles, cans, an "Amos and Andy" thermos, tabacco tins, and then kitchen utensils.  A whisk, a batter spoon, two coffee cups, two juice glasses, salt and pepper shakers, a knife fork and spoon, and then a few jars of spices.  I have found someone's hidden kitchen!!

OK, this place creeps me out because I can kind of feel the history.  So, I decide I need to make an altar to the people who came before us.  If you walk down Main Street you can see it in the window on the second floor.  Included are the lady's shoe that came out of the wall, a few glasses, some bottles, some porn, a few cups and the whisk.  The stuff will make a great shadow box for the wall when the building is done.  The altar is for past residents, whom we don't want to forget.  I hope they will help and protect us while we take apart the building and put it back together again.

I would love to hang these on the side of the building!

Three inches of dust lay atop the lathing, which all came down right on my tarp, nice and neat.  Today is clean up morning and take the last of the ceiling down afternoon. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

In which I get a present and there is a new wallpaper photo

We had a present today from the previous owner, a bunch of big white letters.  We can spell TOAST and TANS and REST and FATSO, but not all at once.  The letters are cool and old, each having a beveled edge with old gold leaf and black paint around the bevel.  Neat-O!

This old bottle fell on my hard hat today.  I like the faceted neck.  Must have been for an elixer..yeah, that's it, an elixer of some kind.

Then there was this 1960s LUXE wall clock in the shape of a flower, Very mod, very cool, very EBAY!

And then there was more wall paper.  This octagonal floral design was the earliest on the plaster, and then there were four other layers over that one.  The last layer was completely brown and had been scribbled on by kids and and adults alike.  

We spent a the day contriving a debris chute from the second floor to the dumpster below.  Greg took home a 10 x 20' industrial tarp we found at Ocean State Job Lots and sewed it into a tube that we suspended from the rafters and bungy chorded to the dumpster.  We then shoveled the plaster into old pickle buckets and dumped them down the chute. Once we got the method down, it took us about 45 minutes to get the awful mess down the chute and to the dumpster.  Sorry to everyone outside for the dust!  The building is better for having a good cleaning out every 150 years or so.  Tomorrow we will pull down the rest of the ceiling and then get to work on the walls over the weekend.  The second floor should be all gutted and cleaned out by Monday...and then the fun begins!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

in which you all think...HAHA, thank the gods I am not those two fools

Submitted without comment

Ok, well that ain't gonna happen if you know me at all....there are loads of comments about these pictures of the barn.  Can you see the snow on the floor from yesterday's storm, that came through the roof???

Anyway, this is our beloved second floor of the barn.  The previous owner made some headway on cleaning it out two days ago, but he and his boys haven't been around since then.

 This is the "keep" pile

This is the "Seth and Greg, you want these boards?? " pile

The cash register from inside the wall that I thought would be full of cash.   It wasn't.

Why yes those garbage bags hanging from the ceiling ARE full of old insulation or something....

Of course all this stuff is supposed to be gone in the next two weeks.  But everything has to be gone through before it makes the way up onto the truck.  Ugghh. which a squirrel's nest, soft porn, a vintage syringe, and old bottles rain down upon our heads.

I've never felt dirtier in all my life.  Ewwwww.   We took down the ceiling on the second floor today.

150 years of dust coupled with some HUGE animal nests, old books, LOTS of vintage soft porn along with a Sadism magazine, some old bottles and a vintage syringe in it's wooden tube all rained down upon us.  GROSSSSSSSS.

Here are some of our treasures!  This one is a bit scary.  According to the internet, this was a short lived S and M terror magazine that lasted only 8 issues in the early 1960s.  Found between the floor boards.  

The vintage syringe in it's wooden tube.  Thought it was a cigar.  I think it's been used too.  

Ummm...OK, I am getting a clearer picture of this building now.  What did we buy???  There are two issues of Intimate that we found.  Apparently, Intimate Magazine is still in print.  Kim Kardashian was recently on the cover. 

We have about half the ceiling and walls down on the second floor and are just getting to the charred area where there was an old fire.  The fire damage is underneath the plaster and lathe, so I wonder if the building survived the fire of 1865 or 1873 and was remodeled.

     All I can say is, what a job and boy are we saving some money doing this ourselves.  The final two shots show the North wall and the ceiling all removed.  The building was built really well and has some lathe and plaster insulation as well.  I think we will leave it and just foam over it, if possible.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The barn

In which I chat about the space least explored.....the barn 

The barn.  We had a friend stop by the other day who said "You're going to tear this down, right?" Wrong.  The barn has stood for about 110 years right where it is.  We call that history.  I learned in graduate school that there are some additions to historic properties or objects, that, if they have been there almost as long as the main object or property, they become part of that object or property's history and deserve to remain a part of that object or property.   Unless we find that the building is unsalvageable, then it stays and gets renovated.  I think it is a fantastic space with soaring beams (that need to be assessed and probably replaced), huge rafters (two of which have been cut and need attention soon!) windows and doors (that need to be unboarded and replaced) plumbing! (that needs to be replumb-ed and updated) and its original roof (that will be replaced!) 

The 28' boat in the barn gets moved today...have I ever mentioned the boat?  It belongs to the owner of the neighboring restaurant.  According to well placed sources, the boat was rolled into the barn three years ago to be fixed.  Three years later, there it sits, unfixed.  The boat, named "The Monday," takes up about half the barn space and has been the stumbling block for emptying the barn out of its myriad collections since it butts right up against the big metal truck doors and pretty much blocks all entrants from easy access to the rest of the barn.  Other things in the barn include, but are not limited to: a broken bulldozer, at least a dozen tires of various sizes, somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 milk crates full of machine parts, a bunch of old barrels, twenty or so small engines or parts of engines, at least 10 bags of old insulation, some other motorized things with wheels that are so buried as to be rendered unidentifiable,  and who knows what else. 

Here is an updated photo of the barn with the boat gone! 

 Since there are hardly any lights in the place, I haven't even seen what is up on the second floor of the barn, a space I am dying to get to, because it holds a lot of promise and I have never laid eyes on it much past the first few feet.  The second floor has shelves lined to the ceiling with old light fixtures, metal rods, old wood, boxes of parts, parts of parts, decomposing bodies of small critters, etc.  As you may remember, the second floor of the barn has three southerly facing windows that have been boarded up for 20-30 years.   I can't wait to "unboard" the windows and let the light shine in!

So, back to the boat.  When the boat goes, the plan, so I have been told, is the back the remaining tractor trailer up to the barn doors and start loading in.  With the thought of 12-18" of snow coming tomorrow, I hope they act with all expediency and do that today.  It would be nice to think of the barn all cleaned out and ready for exploration by the end of the week.

We thought originally that the barn would make two nice retail spaces for downtown.  But, that was before.  We had forgotten that there is a perfectly wonderful second floor space above for rental space and with a new stair core, bathrooms, and a furnace room having to fit in the barn, it might make more sense to make it into one large retail space, restaurant space, performance space, or my dream of a lesbian bar called "Muffy's"  There, I said it and I am leaving it in.

We will see what today holds...for now, at 5:47am, I am going back to working on my taxes.