Monday, February 21, 2011

And So It Begins

Today we started working on the Cheney Cottage again.

The lot is a sea of mud, and even getting around the house requires leaping from pieces of plywood to old tarps to dry islands. The two houses are sitting there, definitely a work in progress. The Delaney House is on cribbing, a big space under it. The Cheney Cottage's second floor is still sitting on the wheels that brought it to 62nd Street, and those wheels are coated with the mud of the lot.

But the work has to start, and it did. Neil and Reuben came and started putting the eaves back on the west side of the house (the eaves on two sides were removed to make the house fit down the streets as it was moved). To do this, we needed to sort through all the wood we took off the house when it was on campus, and figure out which pieces went on each place. Then all the various pieces of the eaves had to have the nails pulled, so they were ready to be reinstalled.
Neil and Reuben begin the work of rebuilding the eaves

Sabastian came down this weekend, and we enlisted him in this process - along with the two of us. We pulled nails out of dozens of boards, each one having lots and lots of nails. It sounds like grueling work, but actually, it was enjoyable: we all felt great the things were happening, and that the house was finally getting some work done on it.
Sabastian at work pulling nails, under the shelter of the Delaney House

Tom and I both spent a lot of time on the roof. I climbed up and took down the pipes that had been installed on the roof, the ones that let wires slide over it as we went down the streets. Then I pulled off the original tarp, which had been screwed down under the pipes before we left the campus. Tom then climbed up and installed new tarps on the house (the roof is completely shot - no idea when we'll get to fixing it).

We also spent some time climbing around the beams that are currently holding the second floor together, inspecting the plaster and determining how much work needs to be done. There is no floor in the upper section of the house, but by standing on the beams, we can feel like we were back in the bedrooms and the bathrooms on the second floor of the Cheney Cottage.

The place is a wreck: holes in the plaster, damage from the rains, a bullet hole in one of the bedroom windows. All the wiring and plumbing is gone. And, of course, the floor is gone, still sitting in Albany Village on top of the first floor of the house. But just being in there made us feel like the house was coming back. It's on its way back to being habitable.

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