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These Old Pipes

Our house was built in 1887, making our most recent baby 126-years-old. We absolutely love the romantic idea of fixing up our turn-of-the-century home (we often wonder about the house’s first owners – what furniture they owned, what they wore and how they talked [all proper like, obviously]), and with every Demo Day came fun, new surprises. Lath – that f@&!-ing lath!not being in the fun category.

On the opposite end, you know that we uncovered this arch above the entryway (formerly the entrance to the building’s first floor unit), and on the first weekend of demo, we also uncovered original gas light piping beneath the surface of our ceiling:

It’s obvious now this wasn’t the safest method (and a little web digging had us finding out that the gas piping was ultimately replaced with electricity between 1900 and 1910), and we did confirm with our contractor that they were no longer active. Phew. They’ll cause no harm being covered by new drywall, but we couldn’t resist documenting this sweet remnant left behind from the original construction.

I like to think that an adorable little family lived here, maybe with 2 kids, a chicken and many dogs, and when they came home in the evenings, they would turn on their little gas lights with a little gas switch. (Scott, on the other hand, has not given the first family as much of a backstory; c’mon, Scott!)

These pipes will stay for nostalgia’s sake, and once the drywall has been installed, we’ll be adding can lights throughout, adding a much needed junction box to the living room (the fan that was once here wasn’t attached to a junction box – at all!), and possibly moving the placement of the dining room fixture so that it’ll hang properly above a table – but the jury’s still out on that move. And when I say we, I really mean that this will be handled our contractor, as I could only imagine the hilarity that would ensue if Scott and I took to drywalling on stilts. (Like this guy; he’s awesome.)

For now, our living and dining rooms are still looking a little like this:

But with our contractor returning to work sometime this week – clean drywall, here we come! – here’s hoping it won’t be long before we can settle back into semi-normalcy, returning home in the evenings with our little electric lights and flipping on our little electric switches.

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  • Cait9.16.13 - 8:48 AM

    I love the backstory you came up with! :)

    Oh gosh, I can’t imagine hanging drywall on the ceiling of a room that large! We (and by ‘we’ I mean Robert, his dad, and my dad) hung the bathroom ceiling, and that was more than enough for us!

    Hooray clean drywall!!ReplyCancel

  • Annie9.16.13 - 10:32 AM

    If you really want to know who lived in your house, you can search the 1900 census records. They are online at and require only a little bit of sleuthing to find your address on your district’s census maps. And has a free trial period. I started compiling a map of my neighborhood for the next block party with the 1940 records (most of the houses in my neighborhood were built in the 1930s).ReplyCancel

  • Julia @ Cuckoo4Design9.16.13 - 10:39 AM

    I love little backstory to your house and I would totally do the same.ReplyCancel

  • Whitney9.16.13 - 10:50 AM

    I wonder if the family were prohibitionists or if they had a drink now and then, and how did they feel about Capone in their streets? Oh the stories if only walls could speak!ReplyCancel

  • Kim9.16.13 - 10:50 AM

    Annie, great idea!ReplyCancel

  • Kim9.16.13 - 10:51 AM

    Whitney, I really hope they had a drink every now and then! ;)

    Maybe Capone was their friend?! Maybe he was in our house. Oh, man.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah @ 702 park project9.16.13 - 11:00 AM

    Oh my gosh, we seriously should compare notes! I love love love that our house is over 100 years old, but damn if you don’t find some interesting stuff going on!! We’ve uncovered so many things and just been like, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?! But that’s all part of the process, and part of the story. Can’t wait to tell our grandkids someday about this crazy adventure!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel9.16.13 - 11:09 AM

    I love your little backstory – I do the same thing. That is something that I love about older homes, that there were people there in a totally different time doing some of the exact same things as us in the same spots. Pretty cool when you think of it.
    I like that they had a chicken – maybe that’s the reason Capone liked to come over – to see the pet chicken in the house haha.ReplyCancel

  • Kim9.16.13 - 11:12 AM

    Sarah, yes, one day we’ll look back and realize how crazy we were for taking it all on – but it’s been so much fun, too!

    Rachel, I know, it’s so creepy and cool at the same time. While we watch television, was the first family’s mom doing a needlepoint in the same spot – 100 years ago?! Ooh, the intrigue.ReplyCancel

  • Manda Wolf9.16.13 - 4:18 PM

    That last picture brings back memories. The house maybe in shambles during a reno yet the sofa, tv, and remote are all accessible. *smiles*ReplyCancel

  • Kim9.16.13 - 4:34 PM

    Manda, you know it!ReplyCancel

  • katharina9.17.13 - 7:35 AM

    you are troopers (and my secret renovation role models)!
    such a huge project!
    keep on going.
    xo KatharinaReplyCancel

  • Lucy9.17.13 - 8:35 AM

    Love seeing the progress posts on your blog. In addition to going on, you can also go to your local town/city library (main branch) or local city hall and the records room would most likely have your drawings or blue prints of your original home. I know our local library’s librarian that works in the records room is always very helpful and willing to dig through the back room to see what else she can find.ReplyCancel

  • Kim9.17.13 - 9:48 AM

    Lucy, another great idea!ReplyCancel

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