Saturday, April 3, 2010

Progress on Cheney

Today was another exhausting day, as we took down the Cheney Cottage chimney.

The work went faster than on the Delaney chimney - at least, above the roof. We climbed up our 35 foot ladder, and started pulling the bricks apart - 15 minutes later, we had the chimney down below the roof. Before we cane down, we had a good look at the roof shingles, and as we suspected, they are shot.  So a new roof is in the cards for the Cheney Cottage as well.  Then Tom stapled plastic over the hole, and we went inside the house.

We started taking the bricks down inside the attic, and then lowering buckets of bricks through the hatch, but realized that this was going to take us hours.  So we changed plans.

In the living room, we broke open the wall and exposed the original fireplace for the house.  The Cheney Cottage originally had a large fireplace, so once we pulled the wallboard off the opening, we could get access to it. It was full of dust and debris.

Our dear friend Robyn Roberts came over, and we set up a relay: Tom pulled the bricks off upstairs and dropped them, one by one, down the chimney.  I would pull the brick out of the chimney and stack them in the living room.  (After each brick, I would yell "clear" to indicate that Tom could drop the next brick).  Then Robyn took the bricks and stacked them outside.  (Robyn claimed to enjoy the aerobic exercise moving bricks gave her - go know.)

The worst part about taking down a chimney is that, in addition to bricks, you have about 100 years of soot and mortar falling down as well.  Within a very short time, we were all coated with soot and dust.

It took hours, but the chimney is down as far as the fireplace.  As Tom worked his way down, we realized that if we didn't finish it today, he'd be stuck inside the wall.  

Finally, Tom made it out through the fireplace, and we decided to stop for the day.  Tomorrow, we'll finish taking the fireplace down to the crawl space, and will start work prepping the house to be cut in half.  

The other nice thing that happened today was that Daniella Thompson stopped by and took some photos of the Cheney Cottage.  Daniella has been involved with Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association for a long time, and she is their web master and chief photographer.  She took the beautiful pictures of the Parker Street house which are on the BAHA website (

The City of Berkeley, meanwhile, is still being implacable about the move to 62nd Street, so we scoped out the site at Albany Village with Kevin and Phil.  Phil thinks it can be done (for additional money) and so the plan is still to move the house to Albany Village before we move it to 62nd Street.

Once again, the University is being helpful, and the City of Berkeley has given us very little assistance. Despite the fact that everyone is so happy we are saving the house, we still can't get anyone to bend the rules so we can move the house to our own property. 

The City of Berkeley is an amazing place to live, even though our City government is seriously dysfunctional.


  1. Did any of this actually happen, or was is just a bad dream you had after watching the "Building a Bar-B-Q" episode of I Love Lucy? Well, I had a bad dream after reading this, and the only person yelling "Clear!" was Dr. Joe Gannon, standing over me with a defibrillator. The diagnosis was cardiac arrest due to brick-dust inhalation. For those of you under 50, replace "Dr Joe Gannon" with "McDreamy". Please tell me somebody bought Robyn a pizza.

  2. I inhaled some much dust that my phlegm turned black - really shows up well on a kleenex. Later today I 'm expecting some Pebblypoos.

    No one would be reading this who doesn't know who Dr. Joe Gannon was. Do you know that chad Everett turns 74 this year? What is this world coming to?

    No pizza for Robyn, but we're taking John and Rob out to dinner sometime this month. Once we stop coughing up mortar, we'll be much better company.

  3. Hey, Mr. Slate - I love that you can see Wally and The Beav in the heritage photos...apropos!

    I think the Pebblypoos have a different exit strategy,no?

    Given the kind of crazy work you're doing, would suggest Dr. Kill-Dare...a)on par in cuteness with Chad, and, he's a Team player!

    You're amazing!
    (is that Rick as in Rubin? Hi)