An Interesting Discovery
Restoring an old house is a complex matter. You know it will require you to do demolition, carpentry, and some plumbing and electric work, but once you have done it, you know what a complex art it really is. In the days of countless CSI and Law and Order Spin-offs, and OJ trials and Al Capone's vault revelations, it's neat when restoring a house can present as many scientific and historical mysteries. There have been many so far. We once found an old bullet lodged in a wall. Figuring out the Vonnegut family tree was a historic challenge for Sarah, as well as the history of ownership, or searching for old photos to give us an idea of how to rebuild things. We showed our floor samples to about 6 different people before we finally figured out it was old growth southern pine, and don't get me started on what it takes to patch the holes in an old copper bathtub (how many Amish guys does it take to fix a bathtub? 2 and counting. How long does it take an Amish guy to fix a bathtub? 1.5 years and counting...).
Our latest task, since the inside of the house is all but complete, the bulk of our work done, has been to restore the exterior and apply a cedar shingle roof in time for Reunion weekend, the unofficial kickoff of our major rental season when quite a few of the owners will be returning for their reunion. The state leans on us to maintain as much historic material as possible, but when we pulled the vinyl siding off earlier this spring, we knew we had a challenge. We think the vinyl has been there since the 80's, and we were fearing a lot of rot. Rot, however, has not been the challenge, but the number of types of siding has been. It seems that they had 4 different types of dutch lap in different places, although we have ascertained that two of them were likely put on in the modern era and don't match up, so we can scratch them, and had knives made to reproduce the oldest two, the one that runs around he first floor, and the other slightly different in the profile of the cove, that runs around the second floor.
However, this morning, it was revealed to us that we in fact have 5 styles of siding. There were a few places around the house that we left the vinyl up because it get's the brunt of the weather, and we didn't want to expose it before it was warm enough to work out there with comfort. Well, the pleasant surprise was finding a band of cedar shingles across the lake side portion of the house under the vinyl just removed. It not only triple validates that we made the right decision on the roof from a historic standpoint. There was some discussion that the old shakes might have been oak, which is super expensive these days, but further research reveals it was some type of cedar, either local or western or southern, which was coming in by train in the 1890's and 1920's anyhow, the times of the two great construction periods at the house other than the slapdash 1980's renovation we are still trying to remove evidence of.
All this to say, enjoy a peek at this latest revelation, sealed under vinyl for 30 years if not more: