Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Other Porch

Remember the other porch?  The one on the side of the house?  It hasn't gotten much mention lately, what with all of the effort and attention being on the front porch.

The last time I showed it to you, it looked something like this:
 Ick.

And then I tore up the rotted flooring, and found a rotted header joist.  Sigh.

 When I went back a few days later to pull the nails left behind in the joists, I found this:
To the left is the screen that's over a basement window.  It's not attached to the house, but it does have two cinder blocks wedging it against the house.  To the right is a little paw print which looks like it belongs to a raccoon.  The position of the paw print relative to the window screen has me imagining a raccoon leaning on the foundation of the house with one paw while using the other to try to pry the screen off and saying something like, "Dangit!  Why won't this stupid screen come loose?!"

A few days ago Mare came over and we removed the rotted header joist.  When he went to put the new header joist in, he found something interesting. (And cobwebby.)

A mortise and tenon joint in the foundation of the house!  This is really cool to me because when the National Register of Historic Places folks surveyed the neighborhood back in the 1970s or 1980s, they described my house as being balloon construction. Most houses built around the time mine was (which I think was 1887 or so) are, in fact, balloon construction.  Mortise and tenon construction dates back thousands of years and it wasn't until the mid 1800s that balloon construction became popular in the United States.  This means one of two things about my house:  either the main part of the house is older than I think it is, or the house was built by someone who preferred mortise and tenon construction.  I traced the deed history of my property back to the 1850s and no house is mentioned on the property until after James Kelly bought the land in 1887.  The interior window trim, the stained glass windows, and the carved front door all indicate Victorian era rather than anything earlier.  Also, Mr. Kelly was in his 50s when he and his wife bought this parcel of land, and according to Kelly family history he and his brother built the house, so it makes sense that they might have used mortise and tenon joints in the foundation.  

We also found evidence that the original side entrance was just a small stoop and not a porch--the stumps of bushes planted on either side of the stoop.  (I wonder what they were?  I like to think they were spirea or hydrangea.)  The Sanborn maps are proof that the side porch wasn't always there.  It's not until the 1910 Sanborn map that the side porch shows up, after the addition was built onto the back of the house. 

(We like a little archaeology along with our new construction.)

Mare built a sturdy new header joist and then put in a new floor a couple of days ago.  
I primed it in a hurry to beat the rain, because Mare said, "If you leave that unpainted with all the rain they're calling for, those boards will swell up and because they're so tight they'll push the house apart."  Umm.  I'm never sure if he's kidding or not.  So I primed the porch floor.  
I think the side porch looks a thousand times better already, even though we have a ways to go before it's really done.  Little things like a 1x8 over that treated lumber that's the header joist, and some shims on that center support, and big things like lattice across the open part, some steps, and a railing with balusters.  All in good time.

16 comments:

  1. "If you leave that unpainted with all the rain they're calling for, those boards will swell up and because they're so tight they'll push the house apart."

    Umm. Am I remembering correctly that when putting down hardwood flooring inside a house, spaces at the sides are left that are hidden under the baseboards, so it can expand and shrink?

    Looks excellent, though.

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    1. I think you're right about hardwood floors. At least, that's been the case with every old house I've worked on. I hope that doesn't apply to porch floors...or if it does, that Mare is kidding about how tight the boards are.

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  2. The construction is interesting, my 1886 (also Kelly built) house is balloon framed, but with certain integral sections done with mortises/timber framing, most notably around the staircase and chimneys where I presume stresses were greatest. Not sure if you can see the undersides of your hearths from the basement, but it's a good place to check - mine are pegged together. I'm getting serious porch envy, they're both coming along great!

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    1. That's good to know. I bet mine is built the same way. I'll look next time I'm in the scary basement. Wonder if your Kelly and my Kelly are related? Wouldn't that be cool?! I'll have to check family history.

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  3. Porch was totally changed wow...

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    1. It does look a lot different, doesn't it?

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  4. It really transformed that porch. It will be fabulous when you finish it.

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    1. I'm so excited to get it done! I think it'll make a nice little reading nook.

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  5. That's some awesome progress, which is nothing to sneeze at with all the rain we've been having everywhere in the Midwest. Lookin' good!

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    1. All this rain! Ugh. My progress on scraping and painting the rest of the house hasn't been so good.

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  6. Very nice! I love that you have an archaelogical dig going on along with the work. What fun!

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    1. Mare's all about the archaelogical digs. We once excavated a privy in the back yard of a house he owned. lol

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    2. I'll bet he found interesting stuff. I collect bottles, mostly via ebay, from my great uncles' and great great grandfather's beer bottling plant, and it's amazing how much stuff like bottles and dishes that people threw into privies.(sp?)

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    3. We found a lot of medicine bottles and broken china, and a lot of meat bones too, when we got down in it a few feet. It was fun, but I wouldn't want to do it again.

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  7. Very interesting! Porch looks great!

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    1. Thanks, Lottie! I can't wait until it's done.

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