Monday, March 14, 2011

Ghosts of Christmasses past

As you might have noticed (and can read up on it here and here), we do have our hands quite full bringing our Ugly Duckling up to speed, code and swan-like beauty even before moving in and for quite a while after, too. These are just the basic projects like new paint, fresh floors, a new kitchen and a laundry room so we don't scare everybody around us.

Yet, while we're busily chipping away at our current to-do-list, there are plenty of ideas and wild hairs stirring up a storm in our minds on how to bring back more of our Ugly Duckling's vintage charm and beauty.

There is, for one, the staircase. When we re-opened the wall we also opened the view into the hung ceiling and the side of the staircase. While the bottom newel post is no longer in its place, there is the tell tale notch in the step indicating where it once was anchored. The bull nose of the first tread fell victim to the duplex-ification and was simply hacked off in a straight line to meet the separating wall.

And yet, there is the original trim, hidden away from sight, leading a Sleeping Beauty kind of life in our walls, waiting for us to find the time and budget to restore it.

[Original trim of our stair case]

Then there is the door. Our Ugly Duckling is still in possession if its original entry door with sidelights, and it's a beautiful door even though the transom window is missing. It is, however, not in its original position. Our guess is that the owner who first turned the house into a Duplex lived downstairs and wanted the fancier door. Thus, the big door was moved to its current location on the left and became the entry to the downstairs apartment, and a normal-sized door was added in its place for access to the upstairs.

Phil mused that the old transom window might still be in place, just covered up by siding and hidden in the odd space between original ceiling and hung second ceiling. Since removing the wall separating the staircase from downstairs had left an opening in the ceiling, I scaled a stepladder and stuck my hand with the camera into the space. There's no way I could poke my head in there, but the camera fit just fine and so I snapped away blindly curious what I'd find.

The pictures revealed that Phil had been right all along: this is where our big door belongs, and while the transom window is gone, it's not forgotten. Its ghost is still there

[Opening in the wall where the transom window used to be]

[Ghostly impression - outline of trim around transom window, and funky wallpaper]

I know I'm weird but seeing the ghostly outline of where the trim used to be excites me! It's almost as if those old houses are patiently biding their time, waiting and hoping for somebody to come along to take care of them, to then gently nudge and whisper "Look here ...see how pretty I once was?"or "This is how I once looked like ... please make it right again".

Yeah, alright, that isn't coming out right. Put that way it sounds right out creepy.
Sheesh ...

Anyways, our Ugly Duckling is far from creepy. She's a little old lady who seems to be enjoying the attention and care she's getting and slowly, almost shyly she's giving away a few more of her secrets. So far, the changes with the biggest impact have been those that brought our house closer to the way it had once been, and while we aren't going for 100% historical accuracy in our house we are on the look-out for staircase spindles and transom windows.

But first ... more painting!

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