After a Year of Ownership, House Still Yields Secrets

 

Finding 2 more hidden windows and a door

Scott and I celebrated our one year anniversary of buying the John D Finch house by continuing our work on the original rooms in this house. We thought that after spending a year taking down plaster, ripping out rotten wood, and prying off paneling that we’d uncovered everything about this house. But no, this grand old lady still had a few surprises in store.

Scott removes furring strips that held a dropped ceiling. We now have 12 foot ceilings!
Scott removes furring strips that held a dropped ceiling. We now have 12 foot ceilings!

In the old dining room, which will become our living room once we move in, we removed several layers of paneling over drywall, which was installed over plaster. We found two – TWO — large three by seven foot windows, covered up by drywall. Owners in the 1980s installed a sliding glass door in the middle of the wall to access a swimming pool they had placed in the side yard. An old deck led to the pool through the glass doors. The deck was rickety and dangerous and we had a day laborer tear it down months ago. There’s a funny thing about the windows – Architect David Maurer had drawn two windows for that room, with one window serving as a door for that very same area.

A glass cabinet hid the original door to the kitchen, visible here.
A glass cabinet hid the original door to the kitchen, visible here.

And now we uncover windows

in the same location, like they had always meant to be there. They match two windows in a bedroom above them on the second floor.

Next we discovered that a “china cupboard” in the wall, with glass and doors too new to be vintage, was actually covering up the original wide door to the kitchen.  Our architect had drawn a door very close to this original one for our room renovation, and viola – here it is. Again, like it was meant to be this way. In reworking the rooms for a better traffic flow, we had restored it to its previous layout. I’m hearing the music from The Twilight Zone, is anyone else?

Two original windows appear behind paneling and sliding glass door, which were added in '80s.
Two original windows appear behind paneling and a sliding glass door, which were added in ’80s.

We also removed furring strips and ceiling tile to uncover the room’s original beadboard ceilings at 12 feet high. We found four small hooks at about 10 feet high – above the dropped ceiling tiles. We ponder if they were used to hang a picture rail around the room? The beadboard ceilings were painted green in the old dining room, and pink in the front parlor, which will become our new dining room. The extra height makes the rooms feel elegant to me.

On scaffolding, Scott cleans walls to prepare for repair of plaster in our living room.
On scaffolding, Scott cleans walls to prepare for repair of plaster in our living room.

I was happy to take down a 1980s era brass lantern that looks it came from a big box store. We have an elegant 1910 era light fixture that I bought at an antiques auction just waiting to take its place in the center of the living room. Alas, that will have to wait until everything else is done in the room. We apply a plaster bond to repair cracks in three of the walls, and let it dry. Painting will have to come another day.

Spraying the beadboard ceiling with cleaning mixture. This 106 year old ceiling is in great shape.
Spraying the beadboard ceiling with cleaning mixture. This 106 year old ceiling is in great shape.

 

Although the room is now stripped of its décor, mouldings, and fixtures, the large rooms look great to me – a blank slate with a touch of their former grandeur, just waiting to be finished and grand again.