Saving the 1895 Dairy Farmhouse Fireplace

Fireplace before

When you’re rehabbing houses, you have to be ready to change plans at a moment’s notice for something amazing. Like waking up on a December morning and seeing a photo like this posted with an emergency call to save this beautiful piece of history. A friend of mine posted that the house containing this fireplace was going to be torn down on Monday, so we had a day to save it.

The house was part of the Newens Sanitary Dairy business and when efforts to move the house failed, it was slated for demolition. As much as I hate to see a 100+ year old building torn down, I was happy to be the first volunteer to rescue the fireplace, especially since it was around the corner from our project at 1161 22nd Street. 


It was a messy job, but we got the tile, firebox, and mantle out in their respective pieces. I can’t wait to see it in its new home around the corner! I am left with one question for my fellow rehabbers:

1895 Fireplace Tile

The tile came out in chunks, like this. Some came out still attached to the slate behind it. I’d like to reuse the tile, but how do I get the adhesive off the back without damaging the tile? Here’s what the adhesive looks like:


Stay tuned for the install of the mantle at 1161 22nd Street (and the tile likely going to the Hatton House). Any ideas on unsticking the tile, please tell me in the comments!

Siding Progress

One of our first projects was replacing the roof. Guardian Roofing did our replacement and set us up with new soffits as well. It’s a jarring juxtaposition with the burned out siding, so of course, we had to start ripping that off. It’s the construction equivalent of the children’s story “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”Soffits

Step 1 was ripping the old siding off:

Before siding2

An update for those of you following the Dumpster Count, this started 30 yard dumpster #10. Already, the house is looking better with part of the burn damage removed. It’s important to us to reuse materials when possible, so we saved the siding from removing the front porch and we’ve started the installation on the south side.

Siding progress

I really want to get this primed, because I think it will look amazing. It’s refreshing to see this building come back to life, and we love the support and encouragement we’ve gotten from the neighbors.

Delightful Discoveries

Most days in renovation of old houses are dirty, dusty, and drudgery. Every once in a while, we get a bright spark of something fun. At the 22nd Street house, we discovered a roof inside the walls, evidence of a sleeping porch that had been converted to interior space. My favorite architectural discovery was the historic porch ceiling on the front porch. This house was so big, we felt the highest use of the front rooms was to convert them to porch, which we suspected was there in the beginning. Imagine my delight when we started to pull down the ceiling and….


PORCH BEADBOARD!!! Vindication is mine! I spent the whole day muttering “I knew that used to be a porch!”


It’s gorgeous. Really. I’m going to do my best to preserve it.

1161 Numbers

A close second was the old (original?) house numbers found attached to some boards underneath the siding. We think it was part of the remodel that enclosed the porch. Luckily, they were too lazy to take the numbers off the boards they were reusing.

And then there are the strange and weird findings in renovation. One of our day labor guys found a couple bottles in one of the ceilings we were tearing out.

We tried to track down some information on Hazelwood Whiskey, but we didn’t get very far. We encourage all history buffs to share information on these bottles with us. Hope you enjoyed this peek into the archaeological adventures of 1161 22nd Street!

House 1: The 22nd Street House

Year 1 side by side

The Drake House came to us at the end of several rounds of hot potato. The house had been cut into 8 or 9 apartments and had suffered a fire in the back corner. It had been passed through a few different owners before it found us finally willing to dive into the restoration. This house has been our project since July 2016. This photo shows some of the exterior progress we’ve made in the past year.