Saturday, January 31, 2009

My (Former) Vintage Kitchen

Transferring more website photos to my blog.  Here is the kitchen in my former 1928 condo. Vintage kitchens & bathrooms are my thing.  I love them.

I will admit to missing this kitchen.  I loved that the cabinet knobs and the doorknobs matched.  I miss the storage.  If you look closely on the photo of the full to the knife stand on theright side of the maple countertop, there is a mini-flour bin. The stove was a 1950's Hardwick.


Friday, January 30, 2009

My Vintage Kitchen

I'm starting to move some of the photos that were over on my website, to my blog.  Here is my vintage, 1924, bungalow kitchen.  One of the reasons I bought my house.

Imagine my first walk swooning over the  original cabinets and wall realtor going on about how I could pull all of "that" out and "modernize" it ;-)

If you look carefully, you will notice the countertop is linoleum (the real stuff) and there is an old flour bin right next to the refrigerator. The hardware is off some of the cabinets in the photos and was being restored.

The pot rack over the window is from the PO, but has kind of grown on me.  Of course, I wish all of my pans were copper.  I think I have lost touch with reality whether it is really tacky or not because I have lived with it for so long.

The peach paint and odd lighting are on their way out shortly......

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Up North!

Only here in Minnesota does moving a vintage house to a new lot to make room for new housing involve ice thickness.  

All of the local news channels covered this story today.  

White Bear Lake is on the outskirts of the Twin Cities and has some great older homes.  F. Scott Fitzgerald used it as a setting, calling it Black Bear Lake, in some of his short stories.   

First, bless the soul of the owner that went to such great lengths to save this vintage house.

Secondly, one of the tv stations spoke to one of the movers.  His father, also a building mover,  had tried the same thing 40 years back only to end up with a house at the bttom o f the lake.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bungalow Air Flow

After I had been working on my house for a while, I started noticing things that showed quirks of the original builder (or one of the very early POs).  One of the early POs of my house was into ventilation.  He was really into ventilation.

When I pulled down the aluminum soffits a couple of summers ago, I noticed little vents embedded into the wood trim at the very top of the outside walls.  Right where the exterior wall meets the eaves.  These little round, plastic vents are inserted every foot and a half around the entire exterior of my house.  Front, back, and sides. Even the front overhang and the buffet bump-out. I've rode my bike around my neighborhood for years looking at other houses to see if I could find something similar.  No luck.

To be honest, I can't tell if they are original to the house.  But, they are very old as they are layered with almost every layer of paint that was put on the house.  They are very hard plastic....almost like a bakelite.

Originally this must have worked quite well.  Hot air from the basement would rise through the gap in the joists where they sit on the foundation up through the uninsulated walls and exited through these little vents.    Ventilation is always good with stucco.

Over the years, their purpose has changed.  The walls of my house are now insulated.  The expansion is finished and I'd bet money that there is no air vent baffle in the ceiling (the owner that finished the attic didn't tape the drywall and put insulation in upside down.  I think expecting  a ceiling vent might  be a stretch).  So, now these little vents pull in cold air in my unfinished attic space and the front door overhang and now exit as hot air through the roof vent pods.  It actually is kind of cool, because you can stand in the attic and see daylight through them.

I'm not quite sure what effect they have on the exterior walls that now have insulation. To be honest, I try not to think about it.  I've toyed with the idea of filling the unused vents in with epoxy as I strip the paint up there.  A few of them are missing and the only replacements I find are all metal and about a .5" larger.  I'm in no rush to do anything. I figure they have been there forever, so I don't need to jump on this immediately. I may just strip the paint off them when I strip the wood trim and clean them out with a dental pick and call it a day.

Anyway. For your entertainment. My ventilation system.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Something for Nothing

Just loosely house related. But, I like it when I can scam a deal. Bought four pounds of grapefruit and sent off the receipt and a coupon I found in a magazine a few weeks ago. Today my free grapefruit spoons arrived.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Saving Stuff

A few weeks ago when I posted about a project I was working on sorting old family photos, the folks over at 1928 Northrop Bungalow referred me to a book called Saving Stuff by Don Williams and Louisa Jagger. Mr. Williams is the Senior Conservator over at the Smithsonian Institution. It doesn't get more pedigreed than that.

This book sounded right up my alley. Not only do I have boxes & boxes of old family photographs, I also have lots of vintage furniture, silver, dishes, art, lighting, newspaper clippings, linens, vinyl (before mp3s, cds and even cassettes...for the youngsters in the crowd)......and that's just what I brought to StuccoHouse.

I ordered it off of Amazon. Less than $12.

The book arrived and I've been reading through it. The author has a mildly snarky way of writing that is very amusing to read. I even read the chapter on saving sports memorabilia - as if. It's filled with 15 chapters of common sense information and step-by-step instructions to save just about anything and has a nice list of suppliers in the back.

One of my big pet peeves is people who say they need to "feed" their "dried out" wood furniture and then slather it with oil. It makes me cringe. I knew I liked the author when I opened the chapter on furniture and the first thing he says is "Do not polish with oil. No debate. No 'other people have differing opinions.' No negotiation. Trust me."

If you have old stuff to save, recommended.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Back in August I saw a door knob in Old House Journal that was identical to one I owned. I wrote to the magazine to see if they had any more info. on the hardware. They didn't, but printed my letter in the magazine.

Well, I had forgotten all about this when I started to browse thought the February issue. I was reading the Letters section when all of a sudden something rang a bell. Someone wrote in identifying the hardware photoed in the Nov/Dec issue. Wait a sec.....that was mine.

According to the contributor, my doorknob is the Montello pattern, circa 1895, manufactured by Reading Hardware Company of Pennsylvania. Evidently it is pictured in the 1982 book Antique Builders' Hardware, Knobs, and Accessories by Maud L. Eastwood.

Nice to know.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Other Half

As you know, I have been scanning old family photos for the past few weeks (and probably will be for the next ten years). Turns out my family really liked to take pictures.

Yesterday, I ran across photos taken in 1947 by my great uncle Harry. For many years he worked as a chauffeur for the Reynolds family (aluminum not tobacco) in Glen Cove, NY and lived in a house on the mansion grounds. The photos I have are of the exterior and interior of the mansion.

I grew up listening to my uncle telling me wildly entertain stories of his days with the Reynolds. Trips to Cuba to visit the casinos, taking the young Reynolds son to baseballs games instead of school, seeing the rich and famous while in NYC....

I had been told the photos were of the "Woolworth mansion," but I wasn't entirely sure if this was where my uncle worked or if it was one of the neighboring estates, so yesterday afternoon I did a Google search.

My search results included a great blog named Old Long Island written by Zach, a historical preservation grad student. On his blog, was a detailed post about the history of Winfield Hall - including it's famous architect and many more photos. I was quite excited to see that the house is still in existence. Zach and I exchanged photos & historical information via email. Isn't the internet a wonderful thing :-)

So, here is how the other half lived......

Monday, January 05, 2009

More Clues

Here are some additional shots of the mysterious patch on my basement floor and some additional clues based on your comments to my previous post.

1) When I went down to take more photos, I realized that there is a second smaller patched hole under the saw stand (my stained glass grinder).

2) For some odd reason the whole section was never tiled.....except half of the larger patch.

3) The beige and black tiles contain a small amount of asbestos, so they are at least 30+ yrs old.

4) The entire section may be hollow underneath. It's probably about 5 ft in length (adding credence to the dead body theory).

5) You can see slight shadows on the floor where it looks like something might have been built over this section.

6) I still have the original gravity furnace in my basement. It was originally coal and converted to natural gas in the early 50s. It is not near this area.

7) This section is about 3 feet from the exterior wall. Would a sump pump have been placed so far away from a wall? The ones I see are usually in a back corner along the wall.

8) All of my utilities, with the exception of electrical and phone, enter from the front of my house. This section is in the back.

9) There is a window in the corner that you can't see.....that may have been used for coal delivery. I really have nothing to back this up, but many of the houses around here have coal chutes and this would be the closest window to the furnace & the old coal room.

10) The original owner that built the house may have clung a bit to old technology. I'm the only house on the block that still has and ice delivery door (which is why I'm kind of surprised I don't also have a coal chute - see 9 above) .

11) The main drain is quite a distance from this spot and runs in the opposite direction.

12) Ignore my cluttered basement. That's my stained glass workbench....and the storm windows you have read so much about.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Mystery Patch

It's been cold and icy outside. I've been trapped inside. This inevitably leads to me spending time contemplating things. Always a little dangerous.

There is a concrete patch on the floor in my basement. It is hollow underneath the patch. You can tell by tapping your foot in the patch. It's round....maybe 3 feet diameter. I'm pretty sure it is an old well or cistern.

In no particular thoughts:

1) This is odd, I think. Over the years, I have toured probably close to 1000 old houses in my city and have never seen an old well or cistern. Never. The city water line dates to the 1800's so very few houses in the city have been without city water.

2) I see no evidence of a feeding system for a cistern on the outside of my house. In fact, I believe the downspouts currently on my house are original.

3) Is there a difference between a well and a cistern? I see the terms used interchangeably, but they seem different.

4) I assume because this mystery patch is near the laundry room, that the water was used for things like washing clothes. I have searched high and low for a photo of what this contraption must have looked like back in the day. Was there a hand pump to pull up the water? Was there an open hole? I have no idea and can't picture what is must have been like. I need a visual.

5) Could this have anything to do with the faint lines I can see on the floor a few feet over that I had been assuming was either a work bench or part of a coal chute?

6) Can something like this restored? Would I even want to?

7) Could this mystery patch have anything to do with the fact that the plaster and the windows in the bedroom above it have been redone?

8) Have I totally missed the boat on identifying this?

9) Is this one of those discoveries that will find me next summer knee deep in dirt in my back yard?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Old Posts

I started StuccoHouse blog about this time 4 years ago. I had just been dumped by a bf and needed something to distract me from spending all of my time plotting his painful & untimely demise ;-). Before my blog, I had websites that I updated frequently for StuccoHouse and before that my condo.

My first blog was on AOL using their sad little service. For whatever reason the AOL powers declared my blog "Blog of the Week" and suddenly I had some serious traffic that left comments. Things started to get fun. Then one day I got an email from some folks in Chicago that said they were thinking about starting up a type of blog-ring and asked if I would I be interested in joining Houseblogs :-)

After almost a year of blogging, AOL became a pain in the ass and I switched to Blogger. I left my old posts on AOL and linked back to them. Then one day this past Oct., I received a message from AOL that they were discontinuing their blog & website services and I had 30 days to transfer my old posts. I ended up importing them into a separate blog on Blogger and there they sat until today.

Today, I am starting out the new year with ambition. This new ambition includes trying to import my old posts into my current blog. I have the process somewhat figured out, but I'm not sure how this will affect sites that pick up my feed (e.g. Houseblogs) or people that subscribe to my site. I apologize in advance for any mayhem that may occur.

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