|UPDATE 2013~ Our lovingly restored 18thc. cape is FOR SALE. See our house for sale blog information. |
The brook in our yard in the first weeks of spring... and in summer~
Welcome to my second post chronicling my long journey restoring a dilapidated 1700's house, much of it alone, and with no funds to speak of.
In this installment, I present my 'main room'. This is the room with the cooking fireplace and 'beehive oven', as it is popularly known.
My little 230+ year old cape is a collection of rooms around a massive center chimney which serves 3 fireplaces and the 18thc. baking oven in the wall. This is the classic configuration of an early New England 'cape', as this style house is commonly called.
When I bought my house, all three of the original fireplaces and the bake oven were here, but they had had numerous bad 'patch jobs' over the decades, all with a variety of hair-raising styles of bricks of many eras. Some were shiny glazed, some pink, some bright red, some yellowish---all hideous. I knew when I moved in that the fireplaces were condemned and had to come down. You could crawl into one of the 3 fireboxes and look up and see huge holes in the masonry. I remember I did that the night I moved in, and I could see large patches of dark sky with stars.
I could not have known however, the magnitude of the job, or that an inebriated contractor would walk off early on, and leave me with a 4 foot square hole in my roof and a chimney taken only half way down to the upstairs floor, in November.
I had paid him some money. I could not afford to hire someone else---I would end up chipping out and hauling over 4000 old brick out of this house almost alone, so that new, beautiful and safe fireplaces could be built from scratch, replicating the originals.
I liken this job to the ant who ate the elephant----one bite at a time.
|This is me signing papers making an offer on the house, July 1998, as realtors look on. (*Note: the dates on the BEFORE photos are incorrect).|
|You can see some of the nasty patch jobs in the old brickwork of the 'main room' fireplace.|
The bake oven is fired up for baking. After many hours of keeping a ripping fire going, you sweep out the coals, swab down the oven with a wet rag on a stick, and "commence to baking"...
|Oy....What can I say...|
So sad...NO chimney...but one fine day a big truck and crane came and delivered my new fireplaces in the form of thousands of hand-made reproduction bricks, bags of mortar, etc. to my front yard.
|Down in the old masonry, I found an over-200 year old, hand-whittled child's fishing pole. It now hangs over a door in the room. To hear the rest of the story see this previous post~|
This old 18thc. fishing pole is another item that will be given to the new owners who buy our house.
Adam made the bake oven door for me from ancient wood as a Valentine's Day present one year...I did the faux 'burn marks/smoke' painting on the fireplace surround to 'age' it.
There is one more 'BEFORE' photo I would like to share with you. This is a picture of me taken in Dec. of my first Christmas in my home, only 3 months after I moved in. I was a widow of tragic circumstances. I was 47 years old. I had no husband and no money. I moved here alone, with only my little dog, Phoebe, for company on what I always told her was "the big adventure of our lives"...
|December 1998~My first Christmas in my new old home.|
UPDATE, 2013~ OUR HOUSE IS NOW FOR SALE.