Monday, September 30, 2013

In which furs and furniture keep us busy!

Greg and I have had busy weeks.  Greg has been madly creating coats in his studio as the season sets in and I spent part of last week in New York at an auction of American furniture where I did pretty well buying for clients.  We have also been at our desks, setting our next moves up at Slum and Blight.  The Community Development Block Grant application for help with the facade of the building was due today.  We worked on that last week and submitted it early.  Our building permit application was submitted today with the final set of architect plans! for now that is....but we have foundation plans and concrete and rebar spec-ed out.  Hopefully that business will start in the next week or so...fingers crossed.  Some changes, finally!
Thanks to our architects and our structural engineer for squeezing us in.  Next time we will know better what to get done right away!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

In which we get screwed

Screw You!!

In the back of the first floor is a storage room that we had not yet worked on. It is about 25% of the overall space and had plaster board walls and ceiling.  Underneath the plaster board and the blue board layer was a layer of paper and then old painted, rigid cardboard, probably dating from around the 20s when the building was the farmer's union.  This board was nailed to the walls and the ceiling and then painted a taupe color.....The effect is very about Bleak House!

Over the years and through the layers, many..many screws were used to fashion the various stages of the ceiling to the old original ceiling.  Before taking down the cardboard layer, all those screws had to come out.  It is much easier removing the screws than trying to get the rigid cardboard out in anything but small handfuls of pieces.  I want sections to come down together, I mean, its what we are wearing hardhats for, might as well see if they work!  So, each 4 x 8' sections of cardboard must have had at least 50-75 screws in them.  We won't talk about the walls, where the same thing happened.  I had great photos of that mess, but I cracked the screen on my phone and lost all visual contact with the graphics before I could get the photos off.
Look at all those damn screws!

Greg and I figured out a system and had all the screws down out of the ceiling in about two hours.  By that time our shoulders and arms were so tired from holding the drills above our heads that we had to leave.  Today's project is to get the wooden ceiling down...we think this is the last layer.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

In which we add treasures to our altar of peoples past

Greg made all the finds this time around,  Lots of stuff besides nests and poop came raining down upon us over the last week.  Empty nail polish bottles, curlers, a handful of marbles and some empty canned goods.  Below are some of the best!

I wonder if the Colonial will honor this??  A big black plastic wallet came tumbling down and though we really wanted it to be filled with $20s (it was not), what we found was really cool..a two for one pass to the local theater (still in business) that was good in June 1966.  Methinks this might be a good auction item for a fundraiser in town.  

We have dubbed this lovely yarn doll "Dirty Ghetto Girl"  

What an interesting thing to find in the ceiling, a double sided scrap of paper with poems written all over it.  The page is still a bit dirty and I have not wanted to handle it too much yet.  When I get a chance, I will transcribe for you, gentle reader.  

Just a sampling of the many curlers we found.  My mom used to use a similar type when I was a kid.

A lone Christmas ornament made from a clothespin.  It still has bling attached!

"Every bartender in town knew the mayor's daughter......if not by name, by her reputation..."  
who wouldn't want to read "Man Crazy" after that tag at the top of the novella!

In which we strip away the layers

We made it our mission over the weekend to get the ceiling down in the front part of the building.  Each day a load of progress was made as we uncovered the beautiful floor joists above. As many of you have read, there were upwards of four layers of ceiling in any given area.  The original plaster and lathe ceilings were wet, moldy, disintegrating, or dry and crumbly.  We filled a 40 cubic yard dumpster in a matter of three days.  The waste management company had to come back with a larger truck to haul the dumpster away because it was too heavy.  I think we are up to 17 tons of debris hauled away.  

There is still an air of mustiness in the building, but that comes from all the grain and rat droppings that we found in the walls.  I am glad to let the building dry out.

But Greg's great line of the morning on Saturday was..."Look, anything is better than cat pee and incense!"  which is what the place smelled like at the beginning of September.  

The last two sections of ceiling were "repaired" because of an early leak.  Instead of taking the old material out and putting in a new ceiling, previous owners simply went right over the areas where the ceiling had been damaged.  Up went sections of blue board with wall board over it.  I appeared to be a homemade job because of the THOUSANDS of screws, lack of mud and tape (thankfully) and general wonkiness.  The below photo shows what we were up against.  A relatively new leak in the roof above made most of the wall board good and spongy with water...We shoulda worn slickers when taking this part of the ceiling down!

After successfully getting the wall board and blue board down, we were left with what you see below.  A layer of bead board and a layer of original plaster and lathe ceiling complete with old and damp faded wall papers.  

We took down everything, cleaned it up, and played hooky for the rest of the day on the boat!  

Yay! Last of the ceiling is gone!

The joists are in beautiful condition, and happy to have all that moldy stuff gone!  The cross beams, of course, have only two layers on them, a layer of bead board, full wall paper, and then each beam was cased.  You can see the bead board covered beams below.  

The space is nice and sunny in the late afternoon on a Fall day

One of the boards covering the cross beams.  The wall paper on the left is a rocaille decorated beauty with an amazing amount of detail to the scrolls and foliate design.  The pinky red wall paper fragment to the right is the earliest on the beam and at least two layers earlier than the one on the left.  

All done at the front of the space....I have to repeat this on the last section; the one behind the wall on the left there.  On the right in the photo below you can see what I did yesterday, which was to pull out one section of wall....sigh, the building is built much better on the second floor than on the first!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

In which, of course, there is more than one ceiling to take down.

I started removing the bead board ceiling on the first floor yesterday morning.  Upon removing the first few boards, what did I find but WALLPAPER!  That is right, all the ceilings were wallpapered over plaster and lathe and then later, simply bead boarded over and painted about 5 times.  There is one section of the ceiling that has four layers:  Wall board, blue board insulation, bead board, and then the plaster and lathe ceiling....won't that be fun!  


This is the most complete pattern on the ceiling

This is the paper that is under the paper above. The photo is upside down

 Blue and white stripes with rocaille decoration and flowers...very spiffy

While I was doing that, Greg removed one of the facings from the wall at the back of the space and used our handy-dandy passage through the bathroom to dumpster number 9.  Just delivered yesterday morning and already half full!

and then, after we had the electrical box dismantled, we took out all the electrical outlets and fixtures that had been run on top of the current walls and ceiling.  

We also had one of our friends come and take the remaining furnace and oil tank away, so yesterday was a banner one for Slum and Blight work...but boy, do we hurt!

Monday, September 9, 2013

in which we can see some progress...and the original walls

Greg and I spent most of the weekend either working on the building or cleaning cottages.  We made some great progress!

This is a good view of the North wall, the one that faces the Route 1 Bridge and the inner harbor.  The original window sizes are revealed and we cannot wait to put back the full sized windows to let the light and the view into the building.  We think someone faced a firing squad there at the lower right of the photo!
 South side of the building has a number of random blocked up door and window frames.  And so ghetto graffiti.  This building should be somewhere in NY with all the tags all over it!

 Doin' what we do best....making a mess of things!

 What blog post would be complete without a wall paper shot??
This is a lovely early one with cabbage roses.  It appears to be the first layer...there are five more layers of paper above this one.

We seem to be making progress.  I would've liked to keep the wooden walls, but they are really torn up.  I do think they add a bit of stability to the current structure, so I am loathe to take them down until we have some foundation work done.  Speaking of which, Sarah, our fabulous architect is trying to get everyone to meet at the building this week to go over the plans.  Perhaps we can get a building permit soon and get underway with the foundation!


Sunday, September 8, 2013

In which there is more graffiti!

I took me four days to figure out what this said.  I bet you can get it much faster than me.  This bit of graffiti was written in the bathroom of the former tenant's space at Slum and Blight.  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

in which we recommence work

Work has resumed at ole' Slum and Blight.  We now have the whole building to ourselves.  Greg spent our first day of occupancy cleaning up the outside of the building, mowing, painting the fence over....sorry to all of you who hated the graffiti, we felt it important to leave up so that 1. it wouldn't happen again and 2. the person who painted it on might feel embarrassed about having done it.
From this angle, the building looks almost normal instead of one that needs to be completely rebuilt!!

The entrance is guarded by Ron Cowen totems.   These totems are going away for the winter, but they will return next Spring hopefully

I had to be in New York for the last several days, so when I got back, I found that Greg had already started gutting the first floor.  I am happy to be in the space, which looks huge!  It made me happy to be there yesterday and see what potential the inside of the building holds for some lucky new renter next year!

Though, as you might be able to see....we have a long way to go!  All these walls and the ceiling have to come out.  Can you see how the posts taking the weight bend slightly??  Yikes, it gladdens my heart that we already took 13 tons of debris out from above this space!  What keeps me going is the thought that those windows on the left will be replaced with 8 foot tall ones that look out onto the footbridge and the inner harbor.  

 I couldn't stand it and in a fit of peak that is bound to drive Greg crazy, I started tearing out the wall underneath the central window (rather than start on the left and move right...what fun is that, I ask you).  Beneath a layer of sheet rock, there is a 2" thick piece of blue board.  Underneath that is a wood wall with at least five paint layers. 
 The photo below shows the approximate size of the new windows.

 The window must have been filled in years and years and years ago, because the boards used to cover them up have the same old crusty paint surface that the walls have.  The walls are wide boards that look like they might be fir.  Paint layers below and....wait for it....wait for it......
 More period wall paper above the paint line!

It is pouring rain today, which means leaks and such......sigh...going to meet a man about removing some scrap metal!