Saturday, November 16, 2013

Exeunt Omnes

So here we are, at the final chapter of the 62nd Street Blog.  At long last.  The house isn't really finished - there are still some small details to take care of, and the yard and fences to be done - but the houses are occupied, and for all intents and purposes, we're done.  And the blog is done too.

It has been quite an odyssey.  We moved houses 5 times, spent thousands and thousands of dollars, and worked for four years, spending almost all of our free time working on one house or the other.  Except for a week in Hawaii in 2012 and a week in Upstate New York in 2013, we have spent almost all our free time on 62nd Street.

We've met wonderful new neighbors and friends on 62nd Street, and welcomed many new people into our lives.  We've sweated and worked and swore and said "Never again!" and then gone back for more.  We've fought with each other, with the City of Berkeley, and we've wondered, time and time again: "Why are we doing this?"

We now have two beautiful houses on 62nd Street - both historic houses, over 100 years old, yet both lovingly restored with new plumbing, wiring and heating.  Both houses are ready to face the next 100 years.

Now that both houses are finished, we are bone tired - and also, deeply satisfied.  There are now 10 people living happily in the two houses we moved and restored, and we feel like we've given something to the neighborhood, and to the City of Berkeley.  We've also created a compound where a community can grow and thrive.

The Delaney House is occupied, as these pictures demonstrate:

The view up the stairs

The upstairs hallway

The upstairs balcony

The Front Bedroom

The old Delaney Living Room, now a bedroom

The former kitchen, now also a bedroom

The foyer outside the upstairs bathroom

The upstairs bathroom

The Office (formerly the back stairs)

The landing at the top of the stairs

Looking down the stairs

The new downstairs bedroom

Two views of the new first floor shower

The first floor bathroom

 The new kitchen

 The Delaney House Kitchen

So what have we learned here?
  • We learned that we can do this - we have the wherewithal, the determination, the chutzpah and the stubbornness to push through and save not one but two historic structures, to deal with the craziness of Berkeley's worst bureaucracy, and the energy and sweat to do the work.  
  • We have the vision - the ability to see what can be, and to look past what is.  We saw both these houses as beautiful when very few people did, and we saw the lot on 62nd as a place of potential.
  • We learned that we are lucky to have such good friends and family who support us in our mishegoss.  
  • And we learned that everything is harder and more expensive and more time consuming than we expect.  And yet, totally worth it.

So what is next for Rockhead and Quarry?  No promises, but we are not going to stop.  Tom and I have other projects to tackle, and, I fear, other houses to move.  But that will have to wait for another blog.  

Now I just hope I don't wake up to find myself in bed with Suzanne Pleshette....

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Party

We had a party to show off the Delaney House yesterday - it was a lot of fun.  Many friends came, along with lots of our neighbors.  Everyone seemed to have a good time, and to enjoy seeing the house.

For Tom and me, it was a very emotional day, the culmination of an incredible journey.  We first saw the Delaney House back in October of 2009, so we've been working on 62nd Street for 4 years.  Now seeing the project coming to completion, and seeing so many of our friends in the house, eating and talking and enjoying themselves, was a very powerful feeling.

One of the guests was Doris Anderson, the woman from whom we bought the house in 2009.  Mrs. Anderson's family bought the house in 1947, and she came with her daughter and nephew, and shared wonderful stories about their family's life on 62nd Street.  They were all happy to see the house restored and ready for occupants.  They were particularly happy to see that the tree Mrs. Anderson's mother had planted in the front yard - the redwood tree we removed in 2010 - is now the trim and counters in the new first floor of the house.

Mrs. Anderson had sent us a photograph of herself at the house in about 1950:
Doris Anderson on the porch, circa 1950

So while she was at the house, we asked if we could recreate the photo, with Mrs. Anderson again on the porch of her family's home:
Doris Anderson, back on the porch on Saturday

Soon, we'll post some photos of the completed house.  Stay tuned.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Another picture

The Open House is this Saturday, and the house is coming together (mostly) in time for the party.

Here is a look at the kitchen, with the new floor, trim, cabinets etc.  The stove still needs cleaning.....
The new kitchen in the Delaney House

If you're in the Bay Area, please come and see the progress.  The Delaney House is turning out to be pretty amazing.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sneak Peak

Here are a couple pictures I took today of the new first floor of the Delaney House, after we installed the window trim.  The trim in the new first floor is all made from the redwood from the tree we removed out front - talk about locally grown!

The electrical inspection is tomorrow (which is why the outlets are still sticking out of the wall).
The corner of the living room in the Delaney House, with the view of the redwood tree

The view toward the living room from the entry

Next up: the hickory floors and the baseboards!

You're Invited

That was then: the Delaney House, circa 1950

You are Cordially Invited
to an 
Open House
at the 
Delaney House
1634 62nd Street
Berkeley California
Saturday October 26, 2013
1 - 5 PM

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Big Push

It has been over a month since I posted anything to the blog.  That hasn't been because we didn't get anything done, but because we have been so busy working on the house.  We have been spending pretty much every free moment at the house, and except for one day I spent working with Sabastian at the Fulton Street house, we have been at 62nd Street constantly.  I'm even taking most of this week off work to focus on finishing the house.

So what have you missed?
The pantry cabinet, installed in the Delaney kitchen

  • The upstairs floors have been refinished, and most of the radiators installed.  Much of the missing trim has been replaced, and now we need to paint all the trim.
  • The downstairs walls are in, and about half have been painted. 
  • The Kitchen cabinets are mostly installed, and the counters have been fabricated.  
  • The stairs have been trimmed out, and the treads and risers installed.  (That was today's project.)
  • All the appliances are now on site (or will be, once we pick up the dishwasher.)

The stairs to the second floor

Tomorrow, Tom Pedemonte is bringing over the banister and railing for the stairs and upstairs hall.  The railing has been made out of some old growth redwood, and, because they are made by Tom Pedemonte, should be stunning.

High ceilings make for long stairways

Why the big push?  We are planning on having an Open House at the Delaney House in October 19th. That gives us this week, this weekend, and one more week to get the lion's share of the work done.

And then, we have tenants who want to move in.  We are hoping they can start moving in on October 20th, assuming we get our final electrical inspection and PG&E instals the meter, so we finally - FINALLY - have electrical service in the house.

Once the house is mostly done inside, we will still have work to do - there is a need for landscaping and cleaning up the back and side yards.  But there's light at the end of the tunnel.  This long blog may soon be coming to an end!

Friday, August 23, 2013

What Year was the Delaney House Built?

We know more about the Thomas family, from who we bought the house, than we do about the Delaney family.  Up until yesterday, we'd been able to trace the Delaney family living in the house on 62nd Street as far back as 1894.

Then yesterday, when doing some more online research, I found references to William Delaney in the Oakland Directory.   As far as we can tell, 62nd Street (or, as it was then known, "Todd Street") was part of Oakland until about 1902.  This seems appropriate to me: since both houses on the lot have moved at least once, it seems right that the street itself changed cities.

William Delaney is listed in the 1884 Oakland Directory as living on Todd at the corner of Paradise, in 1884.  This makes sense: although the house on 62nd is not on the corner, prior to 1901 the Delaney lot went all the way to the corner of King (which was then called Paradise).   The listing says "Delaney, Wm, miner, res cor Todd and Paradise, Temescal"

The 1884 Oakland Directory with Wm Delaney listed at the corner of Todd and Paradise

In later books, William is listed sometimes as a miner and sometimes as a capitalist.  The 1884 book is the only one that refers to the house as being part of the Temescal neighborhood.

We know that William was married to Bridgett, and William died in 1899.  In the 1900 book, Bridgett is listed as his widow, and she keeps showing up in the listings until about 1922.  Bridgett must have been somewhat of a capitalist herself: she subdivided the lot and built two more houses in the first decade of the twentieth century (1636 and 1638).  Two other Delaneys also appear, living at 1640 62nd (the third of the houses that was built on the Delaney's lot):  John T Delaney, who was first listed as a clerk, then a bookkeeper.  By 1924, he was listed as Deputy County Clerk.

Miss Annie Delaney also appears, starting in 1898 in the Delaney House (1634), and then later at 1640.  Annie appears to have been the last surviving relative: John died in 1941 or '42, and Annie sold the original Delaney house to George Thomas in 1948.

We recently met someone who grew up in the house next to our house (1636), who remembered the day John Delaney died.  Evidently, no one had heard from him for several days, and this man's father put a ladder up to the window of the house and climbed through to find John's body.

So now we have history of the house as far back as 1884.  We checked out the 1880 Directory and did not find the Delaneys listed.  So the question is: was the house built sometime between 1880 and 1884 for the Delaney family?  Or was there another owner who had it built?  Because of the style of the house, we've always felt it was an 1870s house.  But maybe it's from the early 1880s.

More research to come.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Getting Plastered

The plaster work has begun upstairs in the Delaney House.   This is what the wall in what is now a bedroom (what used to be the kitchen) looked like before we started this phase of the work:

This is what that same wall looks like now:

The back bedroom in the Delaney House

Armando and his crew are artists.  In the back of the house, just outside the bathroom, what used to be the outside wall of the house is exposed.  When the house was built in the 1870s there was no bath and no plumbing.  When plumbing was added in the 1880s or 1890s, a shed was built onto the back of the house, and the old back door became a door that lead to the bathroom.

We wanted to keep the old siding, but we wanted to re-plaster the rest of the walls.  Armando and his crew have done an amazing job - look at how the new plaster follows the contours of the siding

The old living room, which will now be a bedroom, has also been re-plastered:

Having the walls done makes an incredible difference - and lifts our spirits.   This is real progress!
The back bedroom

We are hoping to finish the insulation downstairs tomorrow.  Once we get our inspection of that, the sheetrock can go up downstairs, and all the walls in the house will be in!  Then we can put the new floors in downstairs, refinish the floors upstairs, and start installing kitchen cabinets.  

Monday, August 5, 2013

Before and After

Several people have asked for an update of the shot on the top of the blog.  So here is our best effort, thanks to Tom - a side-by-side comparison of the Delaney House, then and now:

The Delaney House

Next up - plaster walls and ceiling upstairs, and drywall downstairs.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Big Reveal

 I know, this is what you've been waiting for: a glance at the Delaney House.  We have been working like dogs on it, and making progress.   And now we're ready to show it off.

But first, let's step back a couple years, and remember where we came from.  This is what the Delaney House looked like when we first bought it:

The Delaney House, as it appeared in 2009

Now, with 99% of the exterior painting completed, this is what the Delaney House looks like reborn:

The Delaney House, painted

It has been an amazing process, but we are finally turning a corner on the Delaney House.  We have passed our plumbing, wiring and mechanical inspections.  The heating system is in and working, we have hot and cold running water in the house.  It's feeling more and more like a house.

There is still a lot to do: drywall downstairs and plaster upstairs; new floors downstairs and refinished floors upstairs; missing trim upstairs and new trim downstairs; installing kitchen cabinets and counters.  And obviously, we need to do some landscaping.  But it all feels achievable.  And the house looks like a place people might someday live.

And there will be people living there, very soon.  Just you watch.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Ready for Paint

 The two storey bay window - compare this to the photo at the top of the blog!

Tom Pedemonte and his crew have finished all the trim work on the front of the Delaney House, so we're finally ready to paint.

 The front bay and columns

The balcony with new railings (the columns are plumb, the angle of the shot made the one on the right seem misaligned)

Another view of the front bay, with the balcony door

The new trim matches the old, and when it's all painted, the beautiful victorian should be s real jewel.  Tom also did the finish work on the post and made us new railings for the second floor balcony. The old railings were 36" high, but the current code is that the railings have to be 42" high.  Tom's new railings faithfully replicate the design of the old railings but meet the code.

Trim detail at the new double front doors

Next week, the heating system goes in downstairs (all the pipes for the upstairs radiators have been run, and the radiators are in place, waiting to be connected).

One of the two new electrical subpanels in the Delaney House

And the electrical subpanels have been wired by Peitsa Hirvonen, and all the romex has been run to the new outlets and the lights.  The plumbing is almost done too.

The new side door that will lead out onto the patio

After the heating system goes in, the subfloor goes down on the first floor - and then the finish works starts inside.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Still here

The Delaney House

It's been a while since I've written in the blog, but I was starting to feel that it was getting...well, dull.  How many times can I say "Tom's pulling pex for plumbing and I'm pulling romex for wiring"?  We need to have something that is more tangible, something that grabs the reader's interest.

Hopefully, the picture above will help.  We are finally making some serious progress on finishing the outside of the house.  The east, west and south facades are mostly done and have been painted, but the front, the side that faces the street and has the most detail, has been the one side that has needed the most attention.  Now that is underway, and it's looking really good.  The gable has been primed, the fascia at the roofline has been painted.  Soon Dale and her crew will return to work on finishing the prep on the second floor, and to prime and paint the first floor, with its new trim.

Tom Pedemonte and his crew have been working on finishing the front of the bay this week.  It's been great to see it finally coming together.

We also finally have the double doors onto the back patio installed (even though we don't yet have the patio in place).   And the fence along the driveway is done - we still have many more feet to go along the back yard, but the main section (where we needed the fence to keep people from tripping over the change in height between our driveway and the neighbor's drive) is done.

The driveway and fence

Inside, there has been much progress.  The rough wiring is done: the two subpanels have been installed and hooked up, all the romex is in place, and runs to all the new outlets and lights.  The house has 21 circuits - a big improvement over the one circuit it had (and that being old knob and tube wiring) when we bought the place.  

In the bathroom, we have a working toilet and two working sinks (so far, just cold water).  Light fixtures have been rewired and reinstalled upstairs, and we've been rehanging doors, fixing broken doors and finding missing trim.

The plumbing is also almost done, and Bill Rayno is working on installing the hydronic heating system.  Once the heating loop is in on the first floor, we'll pour the concrete floor, then put plywood and a finish floor over it.  Soon we'll be able to start closing up the walls, and then we'll be really getting down to finish work: plastering, trim, painting, refinishing floors.   We've even started doing some landscaping, and we;re hoping to bring in some good topsoil starting this weekend and begin actually making the place look finished.  

Things continue to be hopping on 62nd Street.  There was a shooting at the corner store on Friday - we still haven't gotten all the details - but the neighborhood continues to change and improve.  More people are fixing up their houses, and the houses on 62nd, like much of South Berkeley, are wonderfully diverse.  Even the pink apartment house next to our house is getting a makeover, and it appears it will soon be a much more pleasing shade of green than the flamingo pink it has been for years.  Christine, our neighbor who owns the house on the other side of us, is fixing up the upstairs unit, and should have new tenants in there soon.  

We'll be out there again this weekend, getting the plumbing and wiring ready for inspection, and starting insulation of the first floor walls.  Once we pass that inspection, the walls can be closed up downstairs, and the rooms will really take on definition.  More pictures to follow.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

More photos

Here are some photos of some of the work we did this weekend.

We worked on the fence along the driveway between our house and Christine's house next door.  The interesting thing about this is that all the wood is from the property: the posts are the old supports for the basement of the Delaney House, and the rails (and the slats, which will be installed next weekend) are milled from the old redwood trees that stood at the front of the lot.

Tom checking out the fence

Net are some pictures of the bathroom on the second floor of the Delaney House.  I know, it looks like a wreck, but it's actually much improved.  The wainscoting has been replaced, the shear wall is in, the window has been repaired.  There is even plumbing, and the wiring has all been roughed in.  Next weekend, we will install the toilet, and run water to the sinks.  There are two sinks: one in the bathroom, and one in the foyer outside the bathroom.

The corner where the clawfoot tub will go, with the sink to the left

The bathroom window

The foyer, with the wall hung sink in place

As mentioned in the last blog post, I found a couple shingles in the attic over the bathroom, left over from when the roof was first shingled.  They are in perfect condition, 130 years later.

Next weekend, more wiring, fence slats, and connecting up the toilet and sinks.  Step by step.