The rebirth of a country school

Month: August 2015

The last wall

Over the course of the last 2 weeks, our focus has been to get as much plaster into the remaining space in the dumpster before it goes away.  So most of the work has been just a continuation of the lath and plaster removal we’ve been working on all summer.

The bathroom is ‘open concept’ now – that’s it in the corner.



Also down, the last wall standing, which was around the stairs to the basement, has come down.  Will it be replaced? – hard to say.  Some of the fun I have is the ‘moving’ of walls, rooms and hallways – at least in my head.



As always, a plan is a plan until it changes for a better plan.  One of our plans was to get a new roof on the school by fall.  Partly, just because it needs done, partly as battle against the raccoons.  But the raccoons seem to be laying low, and the roof is only leaking when it rains, and it seems we have uncovered a larger problem we need to figure out how to address.

We had assumed that the ceiling was supported by long spans of oak clear across the 30 foot width.  But we found, was a stitching together of two boards.  And it seems that the stitching is pulling a little…

Ceiling after










This would be OK if it wasn’t sagging, and pulling the roof with it.  So before we get that shiny new roof, we have to figure out how to make sure the ceiling stays put for the next 100 years.

Meanwhile, down in the basement, neighbors Shane and Barkley have once again come to our rescue and liberated the furnace behemoth that lived there.

Trailer metal. But we did find some interesting, if not that all valuable treasures…

Furnace finds








And what is a summer without a summer storm, an evening spent in total darkness interrupting a cutthroat card game to give us a time to lie on our backs and listen to the rain and watch the lightning and count the seconds until the thunder.   Storm damage – 1 giant limb, which has now become firepit stools Tree down

Ceilings Down – and Then Some

It was a dirty, dusty, hot and sweaty weekend.  The focus was on the ceiling.  As you know, it all has to come down in order to go back up.  And down it came. First the tin.



Tin ceilings


They apparently went up in a very particular order, because it was a bit of a jigsaw to take down in reverse. Each corner and side overlapped, and no more than 3 in a row were the same.   I have decided they started in the middle and worked their way out in a spiral.

In the midst of bringing down the ceiling, dust and rust were not the only things falling.  This little lady came too, and after giving me the evil eye, tried to hide in my spare dust mask.  Mouse helper

After tin came the lath and plaster.  Here is before and after:

Ceiling before  Ceiling after







It seems that what is not on the ceiling anymore is now on me…me

It was not all work and no cool discoveries (except for the mouse.  Despite her nearly falling on me, she was still pretty cool).  We also found these things tucked away in the ceiling.  A good reward for a hard days work!

Treasures in the Attic



More shoring up, more plaster coming down

We made it a two-part strike this week.  Janelle (and steady helper Grace) worked on uncovering the north wall.  We have fully revealed the windows, and exposed the brick on this side.  Looks like a lot of tuckpointing to me.

North Wall


No cool handwriting on the wall this week, but we did find a cool furry critter in the rafters…

Furry thing





Meanwhile, in the basement, Kevin kept cutting out old bent beams, and replacing with new shiny ones.  The old beams seem, well, tired.  While they are more solid than anything I’ve ever tried to lift, they have a bit of a sag to them.



A little clean-up was in order as well down there.  The old oil stove….Furnace



Revealed another stove underneath it, and about 30 years of ash, but nothing more interesting than that.





Except……this.  This is the drawer out of the front of the furnace.  I expected it to say something ‘furnace’ like.  But what does that say?  Ford?  Hmm.  Interesting!  I welcome guesses and educated opinions how Ford parts made up part of the furnace.

Metal drawer


The Writing is Off the Wall

With great trepidation, we began.  I puzzled for 2 weeks on how to preserve the names and alphabet we found behind the drywall.  I came up with a plan, but wasn’t sure my plan would work.  Here’s how it went:


Take another set of pictures to make sure we captured the original artwork (just in case of catastrophic failure, which is always an option).

Names on the Wall   Alphabet on the Wall








Next, secure a piece of piece of plexiglass over it and put as many screws as it takes to make me feel like it might not fall apart (which turned out to be a lot).  Plexiglass cover

Carefully, carefully, Kevin used a variety of saws to cut through the plaster and the lath and the framing boards behind.  Cutting plaster

And with some gentle pulling, and a quick prayer, they were off the wall safely!

Janelle and the names  Kevin and the Alphabet








After that, it was all downhill.  More lath and plaster removal, took out a bathtub, cleared some more walls.  Kevin headed to the basement to switch out a supporting beam – I say with ease but caused me as much stress as my first job interview.

Beam before...beam before…






and after…Beam after

I think, I think just maybe, the dumpster is full nowFull dumpster

(anyone have an extra empty 30 yard dumpster laying around we could borrow?)

Before the end of the weekend, a little R&R was called for.  Thank goodness Bass Lake school is close to the lake!

Kayaking on Bass Lake

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