Sunday, October 7, 2018

Laid Bare

When we started tearing out the drywall in the dining room, we weren't sure what to expect. What we found was evidence of a lot of interesting repairs and ghost marks of the room's old existence. As mentioned before, this room was the first addition to the original house. This room, more so than any other, has seen the most amount of change through the years, its layout altered again and again to suit the Foremans' whims.

We're not sure what purpose all that cross-hatched timber is serving.
HUGE bolt holding the house together.
The corner of the dining room between the fireplace and kitchen door for example, once held a staircase up to what we assume was a half story above. The ghost marks for the staircase's supports are visible in the stud and cross braces, and the newel post scar is still evident in the floor. The half-story was removed when the full second and third floors were added in 1827. This drastic change meant that since the walls were keyed into the original roof line, some enhancements had to be made for the room to be able to support the weight of the new structure above.

Flooring passing through the old doorway.
When we removed the wainscot from the wall abutting the kitchen, it was clear that the small kitchen door had been moved as well. With all of these renovations (moving the chimney, raising the roof, moving the door), we have come to think that the Foremans must have really had an attachment to this room to not tear it down and start over. If in fact the original house predates the Foremans' purchase of the property in 1780, as we now think it does (more on this later), it would make sense that the dining room, as their first attempt at new construction here would have held some sentimental value.

As in the other rooms we have gutted so far, of course we found termite damage. But, we also discovered old paint underneath the many layers of modern latex. It appears that the baseboards had been marbleized, like the stair risers in the entry hall. The wainscot at one point in time was painted a vibrant blue, and the chair rail and the trim above the baseboard was painted a dark navy or black. If this color scheme was happening all at once (marbleized baseboards, navy trim and light blue wainscot), it would have made quite a visual impact. Chunks of plaster behind the wainscot appear to be a cream color, so at least there was some neutrality to balance all of that boldness. We probably won't try to maintain a strict historical accuracy in the paint scheme...

Termites aplenty.

Faintly marbleized baseboard.
Dark blue trim and light blue wainscot.
What happens next is a story for another day!

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