While we are on purchasing hiatus, we’re still busy renovating properties, mostly the ones Sue Ann and Lee own in Cameron. Yesterday was pretty exciting, because we finally started the renovation of the old Pope Residence on Gillis (formerly known as Second St., and before that Bridge St., as shown in the 1906 map).
To say we are excited at what we found on “demo day” is an understatement. Cody, the general contractor, reported that all the interior walls on the first floor are brick. Now, we know that the house was the first brick home in Cameron, but we didn’t realize brick was inside, too! Everyone agrees that this feature is a keeper, and we will be using it as a decorative element, not covering it up, wherever possible. (And think of all the drywall savings!)
The workers also uncovered hints about what the house looked like when it was first built, too. There are many arched openings between the “parlors” downstairs that got replaced with wooden doors later. That does sound more accurate to the time when the house was built. However, the doors also make sense. During the Great Depression, I found ads in the newspaper for rental rooms in the house. Sure enough, a later Sanborn map (these are maps historically used for insurance purposes) of the house shows that the first floor was a boarding house. That makes the separate stairs make a lot more sense, doesn’t it?
Many large homes were turned into boarding houses in the 1920s and 1930s, including my grandmother’s house. She rented rooms out well into the 1980s!
Anyway, there were a couple of other highlights as the dumpsters got more and more filled with old paneling and wallpaper. The biggest? The very out-of-code interior staircase that was added when the Taylor family was living there is GONE. Whew. No one’s going to step out of a room and into a big hole and fall to their death now! Instead, there is a gracious hallway lit by the beautiful chandelier that they must have found the light switch for! Wow. That’s so exciting.
We will need to replace some ceiling and get all the wainscoting to match again, but that will be part of the fun renovation. Fortunately for the safety of future occupants of the house, though, the next part of the project is going to be upgrading the electric service to code. That will not be inexpensive, but we want to have a safe house that can accommodate all our computers and such long into the future!
You can also read another perspective on our Hearts Homes and Hands blog. There are some more Sanborn map photos there.
More demolition fun to come!Hermann says please like and share!