Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Note at the End

Four years ago (almost to the day), I posted the end of the story - the Cheney Cottage and the Delaney House were both finished and occupied.

For the last four years, those houses have been lived in and loved by a variety of tenants. We have maintained the houses, and enjoyed seeing people living in them.

But now, Rockhead and Quarry has moved on to other projects, and we made the reluctant decision that we needed to sell the 62nd Street houses so we could finance our next projects. Tomorrow, the closing happens and the houses will no longer belong to us.
The Cheney Cottage (front) and the Delaney House

As part of preparing for the sale, we cleared out the back yard, and finally used all the bricks from the chimneys of both houses to create beautiful patios behind the Cheney Cottage.

The back door of the Cheney Cottage and the Delaney House

The patio, with lemon tree and plum tree

Looking toward the back of the Cheney Cottage

The Cheney Cottage, which was vacant when we sold the property, was staged, and looked really beautiful:
 The living room of the Cheney Cottage

Another view of the living room
 The stairway and front hall
The dining room

The dining room, looking toward the kitchen
 The kitchen

The master bedroom

The back bedroom
The front bedroom
So now we have gotten out from under a mountain of debt, and freed up some funds to finish other projects.

And what exactly are those project? Well, there is the house and storefront on MLK - the duplex we moved from Walnut Street, and the 1916 building that was already there (that had to be moved out of the way and then put back):
The duplex and storefront, both on wheels
And there is the six unit building on Walnut Street, which we are moving down to Fifth Street. This is a pretty amazing house, with high ceilings, wonderful period details, and great bones. Eventually, it will be six apartments: a three bedroom, a two bedroom, two one bedrooms and two studios. Two of the apartments will be on the ground floor and will be universally designed and totally accessible:
The Walnut Street six-plex

And there is the Kenney Cottage, an 1887 kit house that we will soon disassemble and move to storage (until a suitable lot is found. Yes, it looks like a complete wreck, but underneath that dilapidated exterior is a jewel of a house:
The Kenney Cottage, patiently waiting on University Avenue

And there is the house in Hercules, which has already been cut in half and is waiting for a lot so it can be moved:
"Historic House 54" in Hercules, before being moved off its original site

So we have our work cut out for us. These four houses will also be restored and will one day be as beautiful as they were when they were built.  Stay tuned.

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!