9/12 – Foundation Work Begins!

September 12, 2006 at 10:42 am (732 Walnut Updates)

After months of trying to get bids from foundation repair experts, we finally settled on David Hayes Construction.  David is experienced at this sort of project and wasn’t scared off after seeing what was involved.   

We had intended to have this work done in June, not September, but we’re glad to finally see some progress on a critical step in our restoration of the Wright House.

  Foundation Work        Foundation Close UpWith a solid foundation, we will be able to level the rest of the house (it’s sagging in a few spots up front) and then it’s time for a new roof.  Looks like we’re going to go with Egner Roofing.  They will be able to squeeze us in just in time to avoid daily rainfall INSIDE the house.  Literally, every time it rains outside, it rains inside.  I’ve set up buckets in the really bad spots and dump the garbage can size barrels each morning.  Needless to say I’m glad we have had a very dry summer!

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8/31/06 – Taking a Break

August 31, 2006 at 4:04 pm (732 Walnut Updates)

For the regular readers of this blog, you may have noticed we have been away for a while.  After working nearly every day since we purchased the Wright house in April, we took a much-deserved break following the Summer Home Tour (see pictures below).    Exterioir Front 2    Exterior Tour Day   Exterior From Corner  Interior Tour Day

Knowing 500+ people were likely to tour the house, we decided to remove all the boards from the windows to let the light shine in.  We also temporarily installed the two long missing stained glass windows recently discovered (see previous blog for that crazy story).  The stained glass windows looked beautiful and gave a hint of what the dining room and entry will look like when restoration is complete.  

We didn’t exactly go on vacation during the past month.  Instead, we dove into our main house’s kitchen, installing used countertops and cabinets acquired from Habitat for Humanity.  We replicated the look or our existing cabinets, using the same materials as we did in 2002 during our original kitchen upgrades.  (See photos below.)   
Before:                                                                       After:

 Lower Cabinets Before   Upper Cabinets Before          New Cabinets After

As a side note, many of you may have read the article about the Historic Kitchen tour in last Sunday’s Albany Democrat-Herald.  Our kitchen was part of this tour sponsored by the city of Albany and the group Kate heads, Friends of Historic Albany.  If you would like to become a member of FOHA or just find out more about the group, let Kate know by emailing at friendsofhistoricalbany@msn.com.  

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DH Article/Have you seen our window?

July 19, 2006 at 5:33 pm (732 Walnut Updates)

Rod and Kate with Stained GlassThe Albany Democrat-Herald ran another full-page color article about our crazy house project. This feature focuses on two of the three stained glass windows that are back where they belong. Click here for the full article.

One critical element we wanted to stress is that the third stolen stained glass window has NOT been found. Instead, Pastime Antiques in downtown Albany, sold it to someone before we came along. We spoke to the owner and she vaguely recalls selling it in late April or early May for $65.We were hoping the person who bought the window might read the article and realize it’s from the same house and contact us. Sadly, this crucial point didn’t get conveyed in the article. So, now, we’re reaching out to you!

We know this is a stretch, but if anyone reading this blog purchased a window like this at Pastime Antiques, could you please contact us? The window is 52-inches wide and the bottom portion to the window you see in the picture above. However, has a stained glass border with a clear center. It will have flaking green exterior paint, with a layer of white paint underneath. The window’s interior paint color is a faded yellowish gold with distinctive mold splotches. Of course, we would gladly pay you in excess of what you paid for the window to be back home. It’s been the centerpiece of the Wright House for over 100 years and would complete the search for the missing windows. The DH has been great about promoting the restoration of the Wright House even before we acquired it in April. In fact, we found out about the house being available after a feature story was written in January. Click here to read the January article. All in all it was another well-written article, we just hope the person who has the still-missing window will somehow hit this blog, realize what they have and reach out to us!

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7/10:Basement Cleanup & the Fallout Shelter

July 10, 2006 at 5:21 pm (732 Walnut Updates)

Basement JunkIt was lots of fun cleaning up the basement these past few days.  Lots of junk, stacks of newspapers dating to the Nixon administration and nearly 100 empty glass jugs that once contained apple cider.  Did I mention the previous owner was a bit of a pack rat?  Clearing the Basement

Didn’t find anything of value in the basement, so we can officially call off the search for the bars of silver or diamonds rumored to be hidden somewhere.
 
Just after we bought the house, we had two seperate people stop by to ask about a “fallout shelter” or “bunker” buried below the garage. Fallout Shelter When I asked the previous owner about this rumor going around, he just laughed.  One guy actually said he has “a friend who has seen the bunker”, and that there is “definitely a Jeep inside it.” Jeep
 
I think the story has been embellished over the years.  The basement area does have thicker than necessary concrete walls and we did uncover 18 cases of military rations dated Nov. 1963, but that’s as far as it goes.  No fallout shelter, and certainly no Jeep. 

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6/28: Mom and Dad, Maddie Jo and the Beavers

July 5, 2006 at 8:03 pm (732 Walnut Updates)

Dad HelpingKate’s dad came down to visit.  He also pitched in on the project house.  Thank you, Stephen!
 Brenda at the House
Rod’s mom spent a few days with us as well.  It was great having her down for a visit and she was able to see inside the house for the first time. 
 
Our youngest daughter, Maddie Jo (14 months), had a fever on Monday so we took the day off to be with her.  By midday she was much better, so it was off to Uncle Markie’s house to watch the College World Series Championship game. 

OSU NCAA ChampsOur good friend Mark Hammer has a big screen AND it’s in High Definition, so it was a no-brainer to watch Oregon State win the national title there.  It was a tight ballgame the whole way, but OSU pulled it out 3-2.  Go Beavers!

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6/22: Up on the roof

June 27, 2006 at 4:09 pm (732 Walnut Updates)

ChimneyI braved the rooftop today to remove three chimneys and a giant antenna – perhaps qualifying the home for tallest building in Albany.  OK, a slight exaggeration, but this antenna was mammoth and the house looks much better now.
 
The chimneys were all in poor shape as I could remove the bricks with my bare Roof without a chimneyhands.  The mortar was pretty much just sand making for easy demolition – no sledgehammer required.  We plan to keep the main chimney for the living room fireplace — it will need repair, but is still functional.  The others served no purpose, as they were vents for old cook stoves or furnaces.

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6/21: Fun in the Sun

June 27, 2006 at 4:02 pm (732 Walnut Updates)

With the weather improving I decided to tackle a few outside projects this week.  The awning over the apartment doorway was poorly designed and in bad shape. 

Awning Before

You can see in the photos above hoAwning Afterw it covered part of the trim to a window and basically looked awful. 

With my trusty sawzall I had it removed in about an hour.

                   Sans Awning

After much deliberation we decided the added-on enclosed porch from the kitchen door had to go.  It was rotting — to the point where you could move the outside wall with one finger — and the foundation was crumbling.  The difference is striking–see before and after photos:
 Kitchen Porch Before                Kitchen Porch After
 
The kitchen will get a lot more light now that the window over the kitchen sink is exposed.  This side of the house always felt like a series of bad add-ons.  Removing these two eyesores has resulted in a much cleaner, less muddled and more original appearance.

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6/12/06 Dumpster Duty

June 20, 2006 at 5:03 pm (732 Walnut Updates)

Dumpster No. 2Another day, another dumpster.  We found the floor again after hundreds of wheelbarrow loads full of wall and ceiling debris.  Got a flat tire on the wheelbarrow.  Went to Home Depot and bought a replacement wheel.  Got a flat tire.  Went back to Home Depot and plunked down $39.95 for an "airless" tire.  Worth every penny.
 
The main house is stripped down to the studs in nearly every room.  Now it's off to tear up the apartment portion.  We are meeting with the foundation guys this week to see what the cost will be to replace the foundation under the apartment.  Once that is squared away, we'll try to correct the sagging throughout the rest of the house.  When the house is level and on a solid foundation, it's roof replacement time!

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6/8/06 – Thieves

June 8, 2006 at 5:06 pm (732 Walnut Updates)

We were robbed last night.  The thieves made off with my mini-fridge, microwave, American flag and about 40 CDs.
 
The little weasels must have been spooked as they threw the CDs in our large dumpster out front — not sure if they intended to retrieve them later or just didn't like my taste in music.
 
All my tools were safe in the utility trailer at our main house and this incident helps reinforce our decision to buy the trailer when we started this project.  You simply can't leave any valuables at the project house — even if it's secure — because you're bound to have "visitors."
 
The little cockroaches got in through a side window and then used another window to shove the fridge, microwave and flag out as all the padlocked doors were still in good shape.
 
The Albany Police came and filed a report, dusted for fingerprints and talked with neighbors to see if anyone heard or saw anything.  The police were very proactive and are following up on some strong leads based on some strange folks in the area on Tuesday.

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6/1/06

June 1, 2006 at 2:54 pm (732 Walnut Updates)

OK.  I was wrong.  There you go.  Remember the 100+-year-old ship print I found hidden inside a wall?  Well, I took another look at it and clear as day it's dated 1967 in the left hand corner.  Bummer.
 
It does make me wonder how it came to be placed there AFTER 1967.  The entire wall was lath and plaster – not sheetrock – so it must have been an outside job.  Perhaps when they altered a nearby window they had to remove some siding and decided it would be fun to trick a guy like me into thinking he had stumbled onto something really old.

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