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  • Writer's pictureLaura Rodgers

Old houses are full with memories and that's why they resist to collapse! ........Mehmet Murat Ildan

It seemed to me that most of the projects I had personally seen up until this point in my life, involved more renovation than restoration. I have been calling our project a renovation all along. After looking at the house today and seeing what the past week had uncovered I am realizing that ours is not simply a renovation project. It is more like a restoration project with some renovations. The demolition that has occurred over the last few week has revealed that our sweet house needs more than just some renovating; it is in need of some serious TLC – plumbing, electrical, HVAC, reframed roof and walls, kitchen, baths, woodworking, the works. It's not that it is in horrible shape but it is 167 years old, with parts of it in its original condition. Imagine how we would look if we were that old. On second thought, don't :) All along the way our contractor is trying to keep as much of the original material – or “fabric” – preserved, which is not an easy task.

As dictated by the Clarkston Historical Society, the outside of our home will remain as it has been for all these years. The house will need a new roof and we are anxious to get it on before winter. In speaking with the roofer this weekend he was confident that this would happen. He agreed with Sam Moraco, our contractor, that there were some surprises this week but neither seemed anxious about this. Both reiterated that it would have been more of a surprise not to find anything unusual. The exterior renovation will “restore” the house pretty much to its original look and really there is nothing we don't love about that look anyway.

Inside, it continues to be both restoration and renovation. Sam explained to us that the homes during this time period were made from "leftovers," Anything the builders could find was used. He explained, the roof in the kitchen that I had found so interesting last week, was called a Tamarac roof and was most likely taken from someone's old barn that was being dismantled.

As further demolition unfolded this past week more of this "use whatever you have" mentality could be seen. One of the more interesting aspects that we took note of from this week's work was the huge beams that were utilized to hold the house up; they were all hand notched. It was crazy to see these huge logs perfectly notched and placed like puzzle pieces into their resting place.

We are changing the flow for the inside of the house and so there will be talk in the coming days, I am told, about how to go about moving walls and such so that the architecturally designed plans, that we are basing the restoration on, can be carried out. Large beams from the very original structure of this house have been uncovered in places that had not been planned for and can not be disturbed without causing potential damage to the second floor, which is definitely not in the budget.

The outside deck and patio were removed this week and next week the workers will labor on removing the stone flooring of what was once our breakfast room and soon to be kitchen. Gigantic cement posts were in the dumpster and apparently came out from under the decking and patio. Reconfirming for me that I never want to work in construction or demolition!

An excavator has begun carving out a "road" so that equipment can make it up to the house to haul away material going out and bring in what is needed for the project.

In the end, it will look and feel like an old house, but it will function like a new one. I think it is worth it for renovators like myself and my husband, to keep the look of our house as original as possible. For me, the satisfaction of keeping the streetscape of this Main Street, Michigan home as historically relevant as I can is worth it. Plus, well, I fell in love with the house just the way it was 30 years ago when I moved to Michigan. Little did I know that one day I would be able to restore this sweet home and return it to the way it looked in 1857!

One of the perks with having to move out of our home for its restoration is the chance to spend time with our sweet Nora. This beautiful fall weekend took us to one of the apple orchards and cider mills that Michigan can boast about.

Erwin's Apple Orchard provided time on a wagon ride, the picking of apples and of course cinnamon sugar donuts and hot apple cider. There was absolutely no where else that I would have rather been.

And getting to share it with my favorite sweet girl...Well, that is what life is all about.

Have a wonderful week,

Stay well,


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