With Apologies to The Talking Heads

…tearing down the house…




Recently my younger brother and his son visited White Run for a week of vacation, during which we tore down a shack that had been a blight on the front hillside corner of the property.  My local pal Tony said he thought it had a lot of chestnut in it and I needed some chestnut to make battens and some trim for the shed over the root cellar, so that was all the impetus we needed.


Day One was marked by the removal of the roof and much of the siding, yielding indeed a very large quantity of chestnut boards from the roof sheathing and ship-lapped siding.  So we tore into it with enthusiasm, first peeling off the standing seam metal roof and underlying tar paper.


While my brother and I were working on this my nephew stripped all of the ceiling boards out of the one room inside.  These ceiling boards were among the treasures of the project as the were long, straight pieces of 6″ wide by 3/4″ thick chestnut.


Unfortunately like all of the interior surfaces, they were plastered with numerous layers of newspaper and cardboard, affixed to the surfaces in part with flour paste, easy enough to remove, augmented with literally thousands and thousands of tiny upholstery tacks.  We removed as many of these as we had time for, but I will have to go over all of these boards with metal detectors before I use them.  Still, these are magnificent boards.


It turned out that all of the roof sheathing and almost all of the structural lumber, run-of-the-mill 8/4 stock, were chestnut, which back until the early 20th century was a dominant local material.


It was pretty warm that day, probably about 80, and we took frequent breaks for refreshment.


By five o’clock we were done for the day.


Day Two pretty much finished the deconstruction phase of the project, harvesting an even greater stack of oak sheathing from the walls.  Most of the sheathing boards were 5/4 white oak, 7-1/2 feet long.  Some of these boards were in excess of 16″ wide.  Our stacks of salvaged vintage lumber that had been air drying for a century kept growing throughout the day.


I started the task of loading the salvaged lumber into the truck and the unloading and stacking it in the log barn.  I think this load was all chestnut.


The second load was a mix of the long chestnut with a mound of white oak.


Oak stacked in the lumber barn.


Chestnut roof sheathing stacked up.


More chestnut, including a lot of 8/4 structural material just awaiting me to do something with it.

On the next day in my quest for new experiences I decided to break my hip.   I cannot recommend it as it is much less amusing than I had been led to believe.

Thus endeth this chapter of life on the homestead.

Not exactly a project worthy of Joshua Klein (and huzzahs to Joshua, Julia and company for getting the house down without any injuries!) but it made us pretty pleased with ourselves.