Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Plans

I've been intrigued about what all the semi blurry text is on our old house plans. This post on Brownstoner got me even more curious.

What is a girl to do? I spent a few hours this sunny Sunday morning digging in. While the plans don't notate the type of wood flooring or type of tile as some folks from the Brownstoner thread found on their old drawings, I did run into some interesting tidbits. 

We used to have a dumb waiter [DW] right next to the kitchen. Across from the Dumb Waiter was a strange symbol and a notation for a  Drip Pan. Turns out the space was built specifically to hold an icebox. There was even a closet over the space for additional storage.

There are some faint lines following the interior of the walls in the "Dining Room", "Hall", and "Parlor". From what remains in two of the three rooms, it seems it was a notation for coved ceilings.

A few items are now sadly missing. One of which was a leaded glass window between the "Bedroom" and "Dining Room" next to the door. It was also noted that the window above the vestibule door was leaded glass as well.

The dining room also has a notation for a "plate shelf". This detail is very absent as almost all of the trim work and wood was stripped from the dining room. I did find a tiny scrap of wall paper under the trim around the window when I took it down. It will be interesting to see if anything else pops up when we take down the drywall covering the plaster.

Most interesting to me was that the heating system in the house was always a duct system. There are wall ducts throughout the plan marked as [HR] Heat Register.

It was interesting to note that the second floor apartment originally had a door off of their kitchen that went out onto a balcony (plan not shown) and that our back porch is on the original footings. With the state it is in, I wouldn't be surprised if the wood is as old as the house too.

Other short hand notations that I ran across that perhaps aren't quite as interesting or fully understood:

[WT] Wash Tub : kitchen sink/laundry sink
[WC] Water Closet : toilet
[B] Bin? :  storage bin for coal?
[RH] and [HR] Range H?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Roofing and Rear Facade

Today is my first real day off in over a month. The contractors are hard at work though as it is the first day of work on our house! I am overly excited about the prospect of a new roof. I knew we had a problem when during the last rain, pieces of the ceiling fell into the stairwell. After climbing onto the roof with the contractor, it was even more apparent, it all had to go. They're going to strip it down, remove all the old roofing, replace the hatch, skylight in the hall, put mushroom vents in the light well which is currently being utilized as a vent and plumbing run from the previous renovations done on the house. It's time to button up all the hatches and make this baby weather tight. Hopefully our new roof will be in place by middle of the week.

New windows are the next big to-do on the house but those will take a while to get ordered and installed as we are waiting for approval from the National Historic Tax Credit department. We live on a block designated a National Historic District which means that due to several other factors (personal income, neighborhood average income) we qualify for a tax credit on all approved work on the full building and on our individual owner occupied unit. This goes a long way in helping us pay for the basics that this Ol' Girl needs to get back into working order. 

I'll get more into specifics on windows once we get the go ahead. The amount of information out there on windows is both daunting and frustratingly sparse - depending on manufacturer. 

But back to work soon to be completed. The cornice on the front will be scraped down and get a new coat of paint in the next few days. I've got three green contenders. I did some historical research into the style of the building and I decided on dark green, which coincidentally seemed to be a very popular color around here. The gentlemen at the paint store are pretty familiar with all the "old" colors have serviced a great number of historically designated properties.  

I was able to paint up some sizable drywall squares (thanks to the random sheets of the stuff lying around the basement).

Unfortunately, I don't have that luxury to help me pick the color for the rear of the building. You see, the rear of our house is also brick, which I love, however some numb-nut decided that it was a good idea to paint the brick. This lead to another paint job that was done on only the bottom of the building, which is pealing horribly. Why they'd paint the brick in the first place is beyond me, why they'd go and paint it a second time but only the lower half, is an even bigger puzzle. That being said, we are now getting the rear washed clean of loose paint and coated with a breathable thorolastic finish meant for brick.

This product which great in application leaves something to be desired in the color selection process. There is a nice brochure of colors to choose from but the damned color samples are smaller than my thumb. I picked Tudor Beige and am hoping for the best!  The taupe color to the left is the color our windows will most likely be (again, pending approval) the color to the right was the color I had picked out for the trim around the windows, I may need to revisit that decision. For now, I'll content myself with watching them climb around on ladders as they prepare the building for it's new dress of color.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Originals

After hours, and hours, and hours, and HOURS spent sitting in the Department of Building Old Records Room, I finally walked out with a copy of the original plans to our building. Everyone was helpful, it was just that they were working with machines that were built before I was born. The plans were on microfilm that was then transferred to large format printouts; but it was all trial and error with ink going out, jams and the like.

The plans I finally walked out with have some great info and help us look inside the walls without having to actually open them up. Plus they are just plain fun to see. For the most part, our floor plan has gone unchanged.

Some of the short hand is a bit obscure and I can't figure out what all the symbols are. It is fascinating to see where the house began. Once the drawings are final, I'll post a side by side comparison. There are a few things that have been changed from the time the home was built and some of our new renovations will pay homage to the original details, however, we are adding some modern conveniences, like a washer and dryer and closets. The were some closets added over the years but they are all small and now that we have the space we can't help ourselves from building in some storage, a rarity here in NY.

Some more historical information that I dug up is that Louis Berger & Co. was the Architect. While the builder was Christian Doenecke (b.1859), who built a number of houses in various historic districts of Ridgewood. Doenecke was a mason and formed a construction company, Christian Doenecke & Co. Born in Helmershansen, Germany, Doenecke immigrated to the United States in 1883 and became a naturalized citizen in 1886. He lived in Brooklyn with his wife, Katherina Kaeppel Doenecke, and family.

I've been told by numerous contractors that the brick on the building is in terrific shape. It's pretty beautiful and solid to this day. Way to go Mr. Doenecke, way to go.