Monday, March 9, 2009

1823 Landmark!!!

It was in the mid-1980's, when we decided to move the family away from the hustle and bustle of big city life. After quite a search for our new home, and with the help of a very kind and patient Realtor, we found our home, and it was within our budget. This particular Sunday, the phone rang, and it was our faithful realtor. She informed us that we'd better get up to this site pronto, and with cash in hand! So, we did. This soon-to-be home was in a great location, with the best schools for our children, and plenty of land for them to play and enjoy the outdoors.

This structure was built in 1823 as a church. As the parishioners grew, the building became inadequate to accommodate the growth. It was decided to move the structure and to use it as the Parrish House. This was accomplished by rolling the structure on wooden logs, just a few feet a day, till it was placed on the land that it sits on to this day. I learned all this because it was all documented in the Historic Landmark records, made available to the general public. Later, the building was sold as a private residence. There was also a Big Old Barn on this land; the barn was actually bigger than the house. Well, we sure had our work cut out for us, as we planned to transform this neglected, run-down building into our dream home.

The first thing I did was to gut the entire interior, right down to the original framing. This home was framed with chestnut timbers, and I mean timbers, right from the forest, and each piece had been hand axed to be used for its specific purpose. All joints where halved, lapped, and pegged with locust pegs, to hold them together, NO nails where used. This was how some furniture was constructed in the past. Japanese furniture makers, for example, made use of this peg construction. This wood was aged and hard as a rock. A drill refused to pass through these timbers.

Well, in the late evening I stood just about in the mid-section of this building, and as I was studying its condition and integrity, I realized that the exterior walls had tilted outwards approximately 1" to 2''. This ran along the entire length of both front and rear walls. After close observation and studying the structure carefully, I concluded that some of the intricate components tying this building together had been removed during the transporting and rolling process that I spoke about earlier. If any of you are familiar with what is called uni-body construction, then you know that each component part adds to the overall strength of its predecessor, therefore making the entire unit strong. I can't begin to express the wave of emotions that came over me, as this became more and more clear. WHAT NOW?

As a carpenter, I have learned that when you don't know just what to do, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!! And so I did. I asked GOD to tell me, show me, help me, as to just what to do. This was a short prayer, with a swift answer. This is what the still small voice said. "Build A House Within This House." And so I did exactly that! To Be Continued!!!

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