Saving Pieces of an Old Home


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My wife and I have an older home built in 1919 with custom woodwork throughout.  This summer we are planning on doing a major renovation to the house to bring some things up to date, fix some electrical issues, etc all with trying to keep the character of the home intact.  Well this past week I bid on some items through an online auction that I hoped would help continue the flow of character in our home.  The auction was for a older home that was getting demolished.  So after winning a few items the wife and I headed up to the house on pickup day to get our things.

The first item that we won is an old glass french door that closely matches the color of the woodwork in our home.  The glass panes perfectly match our built-ins as well.

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Our house is heated with radiators and we are planning to keep them, but a few rooms in the home don't have a radiator so they get pretty cold in the winter.  I found 2 radiators in the house that were made by the same company as the ones in our home and match the style as well.  They'll just need to be repainted.

After getting our stuff loaded in the truck, I went back inside to see if I could talk the auction worker into selling a feature that was not included in the auction.  The house had a wrap around front porch in the shape of an L.  If you laid the L in a straight line it would be about 35 feet long by about 12 feet wide.  There was also a smaller side porch that was about 12x12  At some point the porch was enclosed with windows to make it a 3 season room.  On the ceiling was a beautiful original tongue and groove ceiling planks.  They were weathered some, but for the most part they had been protected from the rain.  I offered the auction $50 to take the ceiling and they agreed.  Below is a picture of some of the planks still on the ceiling, ignore the fan.

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Each tongue and groove plank is actually 2 boards.  It took us about 3 hours to pull down all the ceiling in the front porch all the while getting rained on by old insulation, newspaper scraps, and other crap.  Board lengths vary from 4 feet to 12 feet long, with the majority in the range of 8 feet.  By the time we got all the boards loaded into the truck it was getting dark fast and we were covered in dust and insulation so we didn't get a chance to take down the ceiling in the smaller porch.  We could still go back tonight to get it, but since the house is 2 hours away and we got home late last night I just left everything in the truck, I don't think I'll go back to get the rest since the house is getting demoed tomorrow.

We took a short 5 min break and took a walk through the house after the auction people left.  We were the only ones there at that time and most everybody that had won items had come and gotten their stuff.  It definitely was sad to see the house in that state.  Looked like people just ransacked the place with no regard or care for the home.  It would have been a nice home had someone wanted to save it.

We currently don't have any plans for what to do with the wood from the ceiling, but we've got a couple ideas floating around.  We'll see if any of them pan out.  The doors however will look great as we will use them for the entrance to my home office when we get around to that part of the renovation.

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Those doors look awesome they'd fit really well in my 1925 house as well.

What town was the old home in? It is kinda sad to see those homes go. They just don't build them like that any more for better or worse. I own an old home as well and i say better but it seems that most people would disagree with me. My own home has been disgraced with updates and is no longer true to the style of the time it was built. I'm slowly trying to fix it up to a similar style with a modern twist.

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It was in Wayzata, MN.  We believe the house was built in 1940 as there was newspaper for some of the insulation and we found most of the dates to be from 1940.  We're hoping to do a similar update to our home as you mentioned.  Ours is an old what I would consider Craftsman Style home so we are hoping to keep the original charm but also bring it to a more modern day Craftsman style home.

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That's on the area where it's the rage to tear down old homes and build huge new homes. I probably looked at a listing for that house. I've been house hunting the TC area in hopes to move there soon.

Pardon the spelling sent from my phone.

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4 minutes ago, Chestnut said:

That's on the area where it's the rage to tear down old homes and build huge new homes. I probably looked at a listing for that house. I've been house hunting the TC area in hopes to move there soon.

Pardon the spelling sent from my phone.

Agreed.  That whole block where the house was located had been demoed.  All new houses in various states of construction, all right on top of one another.  I get that people want to have new and big homes, I mean we almost built one before we bought our house, but I wish they didn't need to destroy some of these old works of art.  I guess old homes aren't for everyone.

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5 minutes ago, boelkers said:

Agreed.  That whole block where the house was located had been demoed.  All new houses in various states of construction, all right on top of one another.  I get that people want to have new and big homes, I mean we almost built one before we bought our house, but I wish they didn't need to destroy some of these old works of art.  I guess old homes aren't for everyone.

Such is the way when you have more money than sense ...

I have friends who's wives have a huge misconception with houses, thinking that anything built before 1985 is going to be a huge money pit. I tried telling her that every house is a money pit, the money just goes towards different things.

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This is also happening with all the cute old beach cities that line the southern California coast. Someone will buy a 1920-1950 beach shack, raze it to the ground, then build a multi story monstrosity as close to the property line as possible. There's a cool beach park in ventura that used to just be a gromm park,  surrounded with colorful beach shacks.  It's now surrounded by 3&4 story ultra modern monoliths. 

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Those doors are gorgeous. Congrats on your purchase. I grew up in Fargo and always loved the Minneapolis area. Just finishing grad school and then hoping to move to Rochester or the TC area so we can be closer to our lake cabin. I would love to find an old home like that one but they are definitely getting harder and harder to find.

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10 minutes ago, mkrusen said:

Those doors are gorgeous. Congrats on your purchase. I grew up in Fargo and always loved the Minneapolis area. Just finishing grad school and then hoping to move to Rochester or the TC area so we can be closer to our lake cabin. I would love to find an old home like that one but they are definitely getting harder and harder to find.

When you do find them it seems they are in sketchy neighborhoods. It's going to be a struggle to find what i want in the TC area, especially now that i have this dream shop idea, silly hobbies.

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We have some of that old beaded ceiling board in our house, that I built in 1980, too.  I hope you were able to get it down without damaging more than the tongues.  Ours is 3/8" thick at most, and roughsawn on the backs.

Good find!  I work on much older houses these days. 

 

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30 minutes ago, Tom King said:

We have some of that old beaded ceiling board in our house, that I built in 1980, too.  I hope you were able to get it down without damaging more than the tongues.  Ours is 3/8" thick at most, and roughsawn on the backs.

Good find!  I work on much older houses these days. 

 

It was difficult at first to find which side to start taking them down from.  The first 2 rows were mostly junk once I pulled them out as they got damaged.  After that I had more space to work with and they came down easier.  For most of them if there was any damage during the removal it was just with the tongues which I'm not really concerned about.  These are also only 3/8" thick.

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If you decide you're going to paint the ceiling boards, paint the tongues, at least, before you put them up.  Otherwise, the dark finish will show some in the irregular gaps, and it will be hard to get paint down in there.  We used them with the original dark finish as wainscoting in one of our bathrooms, and then decades later my Wife decided to paint it white, so this recommendation is from experience.

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1 minute ago, Tom King said:

If you decide you're going to paint the ceiling boards, paint the tongues, at least, before you put them up.  Otherwise, the dark finish will show some in the irregular gaps, and it will be hard to get paint down in there. 

Thanks for the recommendation.  Right now I'm thinking we will leave them the dark stain, but good to know if we do decide to paint.

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I work on a farm that is owned by a University, the farm was donated by someone a long time ago.  There were a lot of old houses on it and they had some agreement about not tearing them down unless they go to hell basically.  So instead of keeping them up they just let them turn to crap so they had a reason to tear them down.  Most are gone and there's only a couple left.  This past week they torn down one right at the entrance that was probably built in the 1800's, I'm sure someone would have paid them to come and salvage as much as they could have.  Tons of brick and all the wood inside, crushed up by a dozer and put in dumpsters.  I would have taken some of the wood if it hadn't been destroyed, pretty crappy for the university to do that.

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Along the lines of Toms suggestion if you are reusing w the dark finish touch up any bare wood with some stain before you install the board. 

Pulling the nails out through the back often works better than driving them back and splintering the surface.

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Just now, wdwerker said:

Pulling the nails out through the back often works better than driving them back and splintering the surface.

Agreed.  The removal process from the house caused most of the nails to be pulled out from the back.  Any nails that were still in the wood got removed carefully.  Most were nailed through the tongue so any damage that occurred was there where you shouldn't see it.

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