Who am I to begrudge a house of a certain age a little nip and tuck? After a couple of centuries of hard living, there are bound to be a few more cracks and a little more sag than in the bloom of youth, and there comes a time when it just makes sense to let the professionals fix the things that can no longer be covered up.
With that in mind, we recently decided to reshingle the front of the Enos Kellogg House. Beyond the worn paint, cracked shingles and fine layer of mildew, we were long overdue to remedy a butchered window installation job that had left the front of the house with double sills and mis-sized casings on each window. As fixing these issues would require stripping the facade of the vast majority of its shingles, we decided to go all in and tackle the entire thing. This would also give us the opportunity to insulate and wrap the wall, which should make future winters a lot more comfortable.
As the shingles (first half of 20th century replacements) and old sheathing (likely 19th century replacements) came down, we made a few notable discoveries. First, there were a variety of mouse nests (including a huge one in the wall of our bedroom, where I have heard critters scurrying about each winter for the past 10 years), hundreds of acorns deposited by the furry visitors over the past century, and a few dozen desicated corncobs, remnants of our home's original insulation.
|Pressed tin ceiling patches peaking out from shingles|
The other good find in the wall was a 1940s-50s green, conical Christmas light bulb that must have gone through one of the old mouse holes in the baseboards of the house. While the bulb itself is nothing special, I'll take it as a wink in my direction from the house, given my affinity for Christmas decorations from that period.
The last discovery behind the shingles was a little less welcome than the pipe stem, stocking, bottle and Christmas light. As seems to happen every time we open up a wall in our house, we found a six foot rotten section in the beam between the first and second floors. After my contractor dropped the terrifying "structural engineer" phrase, we decided to engage in a practical test before proceeding further. I went inside to a second floor bedroom and jumped up and down on the floor directly over the worst of the rot as our contractor and carpenter watched from the outside. No movement! Another perfect illustration of the beauty of 18th century timber framing - strong old wood and over-engineering can compensate for a wide range of sins. Thankfully, Cesar was able to cut out the rot and sister in new lumber in only a few hours.
With the shingling now complete, we are ready for paint, once the weather cooperates.