Renovation Update and Domestic Archaeology

So the renovation is going very well. The work crew is replacing boards and patching holes, getting everything ready for power washing and painting. We’ve also chosen paint colors, which is often fraught. So many opinions! Thanks to hard work and good planning, we’re still on schedule, and business at the B&B is proceeding as usual, which makes everyone happy.

Here are a couple of things I’ve gleaned from seeing the house stripped of it’s newest layer.

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First, the fact that the porch has clapboard siding tells me that it was replaced before the house was resided with the newer version. I had always had it in my head that they were part of the same process, but that’s obviously not the case.

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Second, it was something of a shoddy job. Which, granted, we already knew, given that everything is off-center on that porch:  the porch to the house, the porch’s peak to the base, the stairs, etc. Not to mention that the porch’s shape is absolutely wrong for the house. But the metal corner caps in the picture, used when someone doesn’t take the time to miter the corners properly, confirms it.

This also offers more evidence for our theories about the porch. Porches take a fair amount of maintenance given their construction and exposure; we’ve had to make extensive repairs on ours over the years. We figure that the original porch disintegrated to the point that it had to be removed during the boarding house years, and lack of funds was why they built what they did.

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On the other hand, there were some choices that added a degree of hominess to the porch. The ceiling has always been stained beadboard; in recent years a nice contrast to all the ugly siding. The porch’s builders’ use of beadboard extended to the interior walls of the porch. A nice detail, and a nice contrast to the clapboard, making it seem more like an interior. All that was covered by ugly siding eventually.

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And finally, ghosts from the past. There were at least four mailboxes hanging on the house in it’s heyday as a boarding house. I’m not sure how many are covered by the plywood barrier (that’s what you see on the right in the picture), but that would give us an idea of the size of the operation and the number of people living in the house at the time the newer siding went up. Knowing that and the layout of the house, we can make educated attempts at answers to other questions. What was considered a decent size living space in a boarding house? How was the house divided up? Where did people live?

Very exciting!

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Published in: on August 26, 2014 at 4:45 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Very nice bit of house detective work; careful, thoughtful and interesting. Thank you for posting it.

  2. You are welcome.


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