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Oh the stories it could tell

 
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I know very little of the history of the structure, but someday when the work is all done (hah) I will delve into the past to learn more - hopefully before either of us fall over!

A neighbor tells me it is a former mill house, although it does look more like a former residence than a mill.  There are more than the normal number of large stones in the creek down the hill from this building, and what look like earthworks on the other side of the creek, so that lends some credence to the mill story, but mostly all overgrown and washed away long ago, and hard to envision now.  Anyway, I think the only reason it is still standing is the black walnut on the left, against which it is leaning.  Oh, and the slate roof, which probably kept things down below much dryer for far longer than a lesser roof ever could. Turkey vultures call the attic home, and ancient and unusual daffodils still spring forth in the Spring.

What ultimately led to its downfall were the sill plates, made from cedar roundwood on top of stones.  Even cedar wood will succumb to insects and moisture if left unattended for long enough. Once the foundation started to shift, the roofline started to open, and so on.  It is a beauty to look at, and I had fantasies of restoring it when I bought the property, but it really is too far gone.  I will enjoy it until it collapses, and then enjoy the pictures of it, along with some repurposed wood that I will salvage, and of course the slate roof tiles...

There appears to have been a summer kitchen off to the left where the black walnut is growing - am guessing it was just a wood roof over a stone oven, as there is not much left now but the stone.

Is strange to think that the homes we build and live in today may one day be abandoned and forgotten like this one, with nobody remembering the who and how and why, just an old structure slowly returning to the earth.
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pollinator
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Maybe, maybe not...

The Tiny House we now live in belonged to my Grandparents, the house being built in 1930. Compared to some houses around here, it is not that old at all, but for 5 years, my wife and I wrote it off. In fact when we looked into fixing it up and renting it out, we concluded that it would take $10,000 to just make it livable. In the end, we moved in for $1800.

New wiring, new insulation, new framing, new sheathing...all in all this old house has another 100 year lease of life. I do have to put a roof on it, but I still smile. So many people could have had this place for free, but passed on it, and now we live here, and for only $1800.
 
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The pictures below are what our house, that we have lived in for the past 23+ years, looked like in 1990 and now. Quite a difference! It had been abandoned for years, wisteria growing in and out the broken windows, animals living inside including a ceiling full of bees that yielded 65 pounds of honey when they were removed. The foundation is easily 3+ feet thick made of stones collected on the property and the floor joists in the cellar are birch tree trunks, many of which still have the bark intact. The original portion of the house (left side) dates back to the Civil War and was not as tall as the house is now. An addition was added some time in the early 20th century (right side) and the entire roof raised up. (The right gable wall of the original house is now part of the staircase wall going up to the "new" attic in the middle of the house.) A young couple bought it, fixed it up the best they could repairing and replacing the clapboard siding and patching up the slate roof and rehabbing the inside. We bought it in 1995. We made many improvements, the most obvious being additional insulation and siding (painting that house once was enough for me) and a new metal roof. (The slate roof was starting to loose shingles because the nails were corroding.)

An interesting tid-bit...shortly after we moved in, we were cleaning the attic. The vacuum cleaner latched onto something down inside a soffit. When I pulled it out, I saw it was an old photo of 3 elderly woman sitting on a front porch...looked like something out of a history book. We decided to frame the photo as part of the house's history. Fast forward to last year. There was a knock on the door and a man introduced himself and said his family once lived in this house in the early 1900's. He had never been in the house, but he told us some stories about it that had been passed down in his family that made it clear they had lived here...including one story about a family wedding and reception held right in the front yard many years ago. We showed him around. I decided to show him the picture we had found. His face lit up as he said the 3 women in the photo were his great-grandmother, grandmother and aunt. We gave him the picture to take home to his elderly mom.

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Homestead 1990
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Homestead 2019
 
Travis Johnson
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You get the Permacultural Lifetime Achievement Award my friend!

You get that for stick-to-it-ness, for having a vision and carrying it through, for overcoming adversity...and literally tons of guano...

All I can give you is an apple, but you deserve more then that. More then a Pie! More then a Pie Safe...you deserve the whole damn Bakery!
 
Jim Guinn
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Travis Johnson wrote:You get the Permacultural Lifetime Achievement Award my friend!

You get that for stick-to-it-ness, for having a vision and carrying it through, for overcoming adversity...and literally tons of guano...

All I can give you is an apple, but you deserve more then that. More then a Pie! More then a Pie Safe...you deserve the whole damn Bakery!



Wow! Thank you very much, Travis.
 
Artie Scott
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Agree, that is super impressive, Jim!  Well done!

Travis, Jim, would love your expert opinions on salvage feasibility - to my eye, it is beyond saving, but I don't have mad building skills like you guys - here are some additional pictures inside and out
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Inside of old house
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Outside of old house
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Ruins of outdoor kitchen?
 
Travis Johnson
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Honestly Artie Scott, I cannot tell due to the angle of the pictures. Here is a sure fire way to tell though...

Look at the roofline. I am being 100% dead serious on this. IF the roofline is straight, the house is salvageable because the supporting members are pretty sound. If not, then it means a lot of extra work that may not be worth it.

To wit, if you look at Jim's house when he started in 1990, looking beyond all the yuck...and this in NO WAY takes away from your hard work Jim...the roofline is straight. That was a salvageable building as Jim so amazingly showed. In your pictures I cannot see the roofline so I cannot tell you.
 
Jim Guinn
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I would agree with Travis, Artie. Look at the "bones" from the foundation to the roof. It may require calling in a professional who could do an inspection, make recommendations and cost estimates.
 
gardener
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I wouldn't say the house is leaning on the black walnut, more like the walnut is leaning on the house as it reaches for the sun space over the roof. If the slate roof is still mostly intact, the structure may well be salvageable.
 
Artie Scott
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Sorry it took so long to gather more pictures - blame it on the polar vortex.

The roofline has in fact opened, and the foundation itself has shifted.

The black walnut may well have reached for the light, it is definitely now about all that is keeping the building erect.
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Roofline
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Foundation
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Lean
 
Artie Scott
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Hard to tell how much the lean against the black walnut is from this perspective, but given the roofline openings and the foundation, I think your comments confirm my suspicions it needs to return to the earth.
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Travis Johnson
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I would say it was not worth saving.

I do give you a lot of credit for considering saving it though. Most people would have just knocked it down and been done with it.

I cannot give you much for your careful consideration, but I can give you a piece of pie for what it is worth! (Blueberry...fresh from Maine to fight off that Polar Vortex Chill)
 
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I have a museum. I've moved 40 buildings from 6 counties in N. Ohio. Some of them worse than your building. Yours is definitely savable. But that's not the right question. I saved my buildings because they had historical significance, I have a museum, I know exactly what I am doing, and I have unlimited time to do it. In your case, it would simply be more efficient and quicker and cheaper to start over, --since you don't have a compelling reason to save it. I would save some of the wood though. It'll make nice pieces for your new building. Plus if you mill old wood, -it still always surprises me how old wood will look like it was just fresh sawed in the "middle".

Jim
www.ohiofarmmuseum.com
 
Glenn Herbert
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Yes, short of historical or personal significance, I would call it not worth restoring.

I would definitely salvage as much of the material as possible, sooner rather than later, starting with the slates which would be very expensive to get new, and could make a stunning roof on a visible shed or outbuilding. What wood is not rotting will look beautiful in spots where its character can be appreciated. If you are not short on stone for building needs, leaving the chimney would make a great monument in the woods.
 
Did Steve tell you that? Fuh - Steve. Just look at this tiny ad:
2019 PDC for Scientists, Engineers, Educators and experienced Permies
https://permies.com/wiki/100059/PDC-Scientists-Engineers-Educators-experienced
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