Enon Hall


These journal entries track our progress as we undertake our adventure of restoring this very old home. The main reason for keeping this journal on the web is that we have found that there are very few resources (books or websites) that follow all of the trials and tribulations of restoring an old home...from start to finish.

March 4, 2005

It's been a busy week at Enon Hall! But, unfortunately, I went off and left my camera in Richmond, so there's no visual documentation.

We're about ready to sign on the dotted line with a builder. We really like this guy, so this is great news. Meanwhile, I'm still trying to get a masonry/foundation guy lined up. I still have hopes that we can break ground by the end of this month!

Establishing our temporary service pole for power is turning out to be a bigger hassle than I expected, but hopefully that can be taken care of next week.

I have removed all of the windows and doors from the kitchen and sealed the kitchen off from the dining room, so we're pretty much ready for demolition. I've also removed and bagged the last of the asbestos shingles and hauled them off to the landfill. I've decided against trying to salvage the sheathing. The builder doesn't want to re-use it (too knotty and not kiln-dried) and it's too low-grade for flooring. I have no doubt that someday I'll wish I had it, but at this point, I can't justify the extra labor and time involved in removing and de-nailing it.

I also started some demo work in the law office (William's future bedroom) to make way for his new bathroom. I've made some cool discoveries in there that I'll post when I get my camera. I've been heaving lumber and debris out the upstairs window, which worked great until a radiator somehow did a half gainer, landed on its still-attached iron pipe, teetered for a moment with the radiator balanced in the air at the end of the pipe like a pole vaulter at the apex of his vault, and then finally fell to one side, crashing onto the back porch floor. It's a wonder it didn't crash all the way through the floor! Glad nobody saw that!

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the law office this week. The views out the front and back windows are spectacular. It has really hit me lately how much more stimulating our views are at Enon Hall than at the house in Richmond. In Richmond, we look out into a beautifully landscaped backyard, but our view terminates with a privacy fence. There's no motion, there's no activity, there's no real life. From Enon Hall we look out onto an ever-moving creek and all of its light reflections, a spinning windmill, geese in the yard, etc. It's so much more visually stimulating. Maybe it's attention deficit disorder, but I love the long, wide and active views from Enon Hall. And I love the fact that since the house is only one room deep, there are views to be had out the front and back of every room. I feel so much less "boxed in." It really hit me when I returned to Richmond last night and stared out at our privacy fence. Yick. -- Bill

March 6, 2005

Here are some photos of the progress in William's new bedroom...although it may not look much like progress in the midst of the rubble.

William is standing at the end of the room that will contain his new bathroom...a narrow room that will run the full depth of the room. This area was formerly two closets, one on the law office side (where William is standing) and one accessed from the bedroom on the other side (to the right of William). In addition, there was an enclosure containing the chimney.

Here's our whacky cantilevered chimney stack. This chimney was built sometime in the 1940s and comes up through the first and second floors of the 19th century addition. Then, below the second floor ceiling level, the chimney starts angling over into the attic area above the Dutch Colonial and then ultimately out the gambrel roof as a full-size chimney that balances the chimney on the other end of the Dutch Colonial. It appears that the original 18th century chimney (a large external chimney) was taken down when the 19th century addition was built, and this was a 20th century attempt to correct the balance of the house while also providing a means of venting a stove. I'm not sure why the stack juts out like it does above the second story floor.

A mystery for me in this room has always related to the wall thickness. In the photo above, you can see that the wall at the left door opening is very thick...12-1/2 inches. This makes sense since this is where the two buildings connect. However on the other side of the chimney, the wall was only half that thick at the closet door.

Mystery solved. When the closets were added, the framing studs from the 19th century addition were cut off at the ceiling to decrease the wall thickness and buy more space. (The same thing was apparently done downstairs, as the wall there is thin as well.) A feeble attempt was made to support the cut ends by sandwiching them between two 2X6s which were then supported these on a stud by the chimney. Old water damage had long since rendered this system useless. At first all of this is rather alarming, but this is the gable end of the structure so these vertical framing members aren't really bearing any structural weight. Even so, I'm gonna get somebody with more expertise than I to take a look.

Even though the closet walls went all the way to the ceiling, the closet ceilings were dropped by almost two feet, creating a void space. In this space, the original beaded ceiling stain is preserved, as well as the original plaster wall paint color...which is a metallic gold! It's quite a dramatic and rich color combination...but then, it was used as a law office. William wants to try to replicate the color scheme for his room.

William and I will be back to work in this room tomorrow. On Thursday, we'll start taking down the kitchen addition. -- Bill

March 7, 2005

Today's Journal entry is guest hosted by William...

I am on spring break so I got to come to Enon Hall to work on the law office (my future room). Most of the morning was spent taking down drywall. Most of it came down easily but there were a few stubborn pieces of 2"+4" and drywall. It all came down eventually.

With every chunk of wood and drywall that came down, more paint was revealed. I really like the color and would love to match it if possible. One thing that I learned is that it is extremely hard to be destructive when there are salvageable materials in your workspace. I do like to be destructive though (don't ask). The salvageable materials that I speak of are the beadboard (above) and the occasional recyclable board.

My dad went up into the attic to inspect some supports and timbers that he was worried about. They turned out to be alright but there were some wierd studs that had been cut to accomadate a chimney. It's fine with me as long as it does not collapse but keep in mind that I am no expert.

Hope I can keep and/or match the paint. Aloha!--William

March 10, 2005

We delayed our demolition of the kitchen that we had planned for today because we're under the gun to get ready for yet another garage sale in Richmond this Saturday. We're now shooting for next Monday to tear down the kitchen. -- Bill

March 11, 2005

I made a quick run to Enon Hall today to pick up some things for Saturday's yard sale and to drop off our completed site plan at the court house for review and, hopefully, approval. Our addition is extending about 9 feet into the 100-foot setback from the creek, so we're having to request a variance. It should take about 2 weeks for them to give us their blessing, then we're only another 2 days away from building permits!

While I was there I also got a briefing on exactly what permits are needed and at what points to schedule the inspections. Turns out I need a permit to demolish the kitchen, so I grabbed that while I was there, to be official. This particular permit seems a bit silly...no fee, no inspection, no questions...they just fill it out, hand it to you, and wish you well.

When I got back to Enon Hall from the court house I found this...

Our new tractor ramp for the chicken house was being poured. The truck left giant ruts in the wet yard, but I guess I better get used to that. I'm sure we're gonna need to have the whole yard re-graded once construction is complete. -- Bill

March 13, 2005

Whew, yesterday's garage sale was a big hit, netting us over $2,000. More importantly, we got rid of a garage full of things that we no longer wanted/needed and that we certainly didn't want to pay to store during the coming months. This was actually our second sale. We had a sale last October too when we were getting the house ready to put on the market. So between the two sales, our load is a lot lighter now.

Our 20-year-old TV finally died recently. I set it on the porch with a dollar bill taped to it and a sign reading, "Dead TV and $1...Yours FREE!" It was the highlight of my day when a guy actually hauled it away!

Garage/yard sales are so interesting. The most peculiar phenomenon is all of the people who want to know what they missed. "Did you have any Antifreeze?" "Did you have any Randy Travis records?" "Did you have any sterling silver?" "Did you have any laptop computers?" (All actual questions.) And the dealers would all describe other dealers to us and want to know what they had bought from us. People would even go so far as to do a look-up of our phone number based on our address in the ad to call us and ask us what they had missed. One guy called 4 hours after the end of the sale to ask what he had missed. It all seems a little masochistic to me.

Kitchen demolition looks a little tenuous for tomorrow. The weather forecast is now calling for rain; possibly snow. -- Bill

March 14, 2005

There were about 3 snowflakes this morning, nothing to delay the demolition of the kitchen.

On the roof, I used a reciprocating saw to cut the ridge beam. Then Mark Dameron pulled out the three posts and used his tractor's grappler to easily pull the roof down.

The kitchen itself put up more of a fight. I again used the reciprocating saw to separate the kitchen from the rest of the house and then Mark went to work, slowly but surely while I stood by anxiously. Several times I ran inside to check the plaster. Not a crack anywhere!

By the end of the day, it looked like we had gone back in time. -- Bill

March 15, 2005

All that's left now is the carport slab. Looks like I'm going to need to rent a jackhammer to break it up. That should be fun...for about five minutes.

I think the house looks so much better without the kitchen. Now, the screen porch is the only part of the house left from the 20th century. -- Bill

March 21, 2005

I rented a Bosch electric jackhammer today to try to bust up the carport slab. (All anybody seems to rent is the electric jackhammers.) It didn't have nearly enough power to handle the 8-inch thick slab. After an hour of very little progress I returned it to the rental store and started mulling over plan B.

I also had to run back to the courthouse today because they forgot to have me sign some forms on my first visit. That didn't make me happy, but I was encouraged to hear that they might approve our plan as soon as this afternoon! That would be good news.

I'm getting close to having all of my contractors lined up, except for my electrican who seems to be MIA.

We move out of our house in Richmond (and into storage) one week from today. So much to do! -- Bill

March 27, 2005

The moving truck comes tomorrow and I think we're finally ready. Worn out, but ready. Packing has been, literally, a two-month process...even after two garage sales. We just have way too much stuff.

Plus things have been complicated by having to haul some stuff to Enon Hall, some stuff to Gay's mom's house (where she and William will be staying till school is out), and prepare the rest for storage. At this very moment, our belongings are distributed across three houses.

On Thursday our site plan got kicked back by the county for a laundry list of missing items that they say were supposed to have been included with the submisison. Some of them are easily taken care of. Others, however, like a topo survey of the entire parcel are expensive and time-consuming. The engineering firm seemed to be surprised by some of the items and is supposed to follow up with the county this coming week.

I am trying to be optimistic about our electrician, but my Spidey senses are tingling. He seems like a really nice, responsible gentleman...but he is proving way too difficult to get in touch with. He apparently has neither cell phone nor voicemail. We were supposed to touch base with each other Friday or Saturday so I could get him a deposit check for our temporary service pole. But all I get is ringing. He was supposed to do the work tomorrow. Who knows now... -- Bill

March 30, 2005

After two trips over two days with a 51-foot truck, our stuff was finally all packed into crates for storage and hauled away. Monday was a mess with thunderstorms and wind. Despite that, the crew did a good job. Funny thing, today Gay talked to the family who's buying our house and it turns out that they had the exact same crew loading their stuff today to bring to our house tomorrow! That crew is gonna be sick of our house!

I spent today trying to create some order from the madness at Enon Hall. For the last two weeks I've been bringing vanloads of stuff here and basically dumping them in the middle of the floor and then heading straight back to Richmond. I can't function in the middle of a mess, so getting things organized is a must.

I got antique heart pine samples from Carlisle today. The samples just have a tung oil finish and look like a good match to our floors. -- Bill

March 31, 2005

Arrgh...'tis the season for big fat groundhogs (woodchucks, whistlepigs, whatever name you favor) to emerge and take a look around. This one shuffled out from under the kitchen quarters this morning and surveyed his kingdom from atop this stump. I think I'm gonna have to go all "Caddyshack" on him. That building has enough problems without him excavating under its already weak foundation.

Lots of nature lately. Counted 21 wild turkeys in the middle of a nearby field. And a dozen or more deer in our front parcel. -- Bill

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