Saturday, December 9, 2006

The Back Bedroom Adventure

There's a nondescript room (as most of them are) in the southeast corner of the house which we assume was used as a bedroom. It, until tonight, had built-in plywood shelving. We wondered how this wall in the middle of the house ended up being 3+ feet thick that they could put in such deep shelves. During the home inspection we finally noticed the top of a third chimney on the second floor. We think there's another chimney or fireplace back there. Our goal last night was to remove the plywood shelves and see what we could uncover.

Some former owner had a real penchant for birds. There are three birdhouses in the backyard and there was an enormous birdfeeder on the fence. I mention this because these shelves were undoubtedly where someone stored their birdseed. With each shelf that came down, it rained birdseed. Guess who else likes birdseed? Meece. Hence, the shower included mouse pellets. Ick. When all of the shelving was removed there was a cavity to the back of the framing. The mice liked their smorgasbord spot so much that they set up camp here. It was cozy little nest of shredded cardboard and newspaper. With the house being empty for some time (at least 6 months), there must not have been a lot to eat. We haven't found any LIVE mice (thank goodness) so far. We have found 3 mouse mummies (and I'm not speaking maternally). Mr. Martineau set about the task of removing one petrified (stiff not scared) mouse carcass and a grocery bag full of mouse mattress. I was thrilled that he took on this task given his phobias. My husband is mold-phobic not to mention hanta-virus hysterical. It was the latter that had him encased in a double-dust mask, goggles and gloves (the one which touched the debris was promptly discarded post-cleaning).

The gaping hole where the shelving had been was framed like a door. We think it was possibly a former closet. What's awesome is that we think we might have discovered the original ceiling height. Eric has a penchant for high ceilings. When we first looked at the place, I immediately dismissed it as a possibility because the ceiling is only 7 feet 10 inches (yes, he measured that with a tape) and knew that that would not fly. However, husband went outside and counted bricks from the top of the front arched window (where the ceiling starts) to below the second floor window (2nd level flooring) and did some algebra and deduced that a couple of feet had disappeared in there somewhere. Uncovering the closet gave him the glorious confirmation that it appears the ceilings were dropped some time ago. It was a trend in the fifties to lower ceilings in a theory that it would cost less to heat your house. Sears even sold kits to ease the process. Who knows if we have one of those. The living room ceiling is scheduled to come down on Sunday after our look-see party for our friends and neighbors Saturday night. In the meantime, the gap in the back of the closet revealed at least another TWO FEET of ceiling height up there. Needless to say, Eric is ecstatic.

From there we tackled the sheetrock over "the chimney." It is SO MUCH cleaner and easier to remove than plaster! We'd pry loose a section then rock it to pop it off the drywall screws. For the most part it came off in sizable chunks. What was uncovered is framing and a painted pink plaster wall with what looks like a stove-pipe vent higher up on the wall. Presumably anything that might be more interesting is hiding on the other side of the wall. That's an adventure for another day!

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