Tuesday, May 06, 2014

The house razing

About a week and a half ago our old family farm house was knocked down. It was built by my great grandparents along with most of the buildings on the farm. My grandpa and his sister grew up in that house. My dad and his siblings grew up in that house. Many of my cousins spent so much time there that they may as well have grown up there. So a lot of people had strong attachments to that place.

But the house had issues. Much of the kitchen needed replacing once the linoleum went soft from the termites undermining it. The plumbing wouldn't last long at a family gathering because it just couldn't handle all those people flushing in such short order. The lights upstairs would come on when the toaster was used. If you hooked up a computer the wiring would hiss at you. Hiss, not hum. The foundation was cracked. Snakes would crawl in through holes in the retaining walls. And when trying to rewire some light switches we'd find that the baseboards were held in place where the wallpaper touched them more than by the studs they were supposed to be nailed to. The studs were eaten and rotten. It was a problem.

So Mom and Dad are building their old age home. The original plan was to build in the yard north of the old house, salvage what they could while the new house was being built, and then, with the old house stripped, push the old house into it's own basement and bury it. But a septic tank can't be put in that soil, so they have to build a sewage lagoon. Several options were suggested, but the only one that actually worked was the place they planned to build the house. Which means the new house had to be built on the site of the old house. And since the framers were only available in early June AND the concrete must be a month old before framing could be done AND the old foundation had to be removed before the concrete could be poured it meant that the timetable for removing the old house was very fast.

Many people who wanted to say goodbye couldn't make it back in time to do it. So I made sure to be there to video tape the whole thing. There were technical difficulties. The battery was short lived and we had to rig up alternative power sources that restricted movement. There's a change in camera at one point that I edited in when the main camera was out of power. The wind was fierce and blew over the camera a couple of times.

The efforts to salvage the flooring were difficult. It was well installed and wouldn't come up without breaking. You'll see that when the wrecker tries to knock out the second floor ... floor. Similarly, the kitchen cabinets were built in and weren't going to come out for anything. The whole wall comes out, but the cabinets remain. The guy running the wrecker didn't want to have to scoop everything out of the basement, so he uses the floor of the main level as a platform to knock things on to and scrape off rather than knock it in. The floor and basement were handled the next day. Mom taped it, but I had to head back east. The video ends with everything above the flooring of the main floor gone and a look at the hole which all the broken concrete from the house and an old fallen silo will go into.

I also have footage of a tour of the house and the removal of the trees from around the house. If anyone wants me to post that, I will. I figured the demolition was the main point.

And here's the floor plan of the house with some hurried measurements. I got the room dimensions, but didn't get the placement of the doors and windows. And the basement is the size of the main floor so I didn't bother drawing it up. The little mud room tacked on the the bottom of the main room wasn't measured, but it's the depth of a window and the space at the lower left corner where the exterior walls meet was more or less square. With this, an architect can draw up new plans if anybody in the family wants to rebuild the house.

1 comment:

Mary Lou Tjaden, Morrison said...

Just happened to turn on this thing....before going to bed and am so glad I did. I am picturing so much as I read and visualize this. I was "adopted" by Dora and Leslie after mother Germaine Tjaden died....and of course lived with them and Carol and Donald in that very memorable house...perhaps as many or more than some of you....because of my wonderful "adoption" which included putting the milking machines together to take to the barn to hook up for milking the cows, plus all the hay hauling, baling, horses pulling everything at all times before all the tractors came to pass!!!Always playing in the barn where the horses were because I was so in love with horses...draft and riding also...one big horse named Tarzan, black and white and so darn tall I had to have a wagon in the barn to stand on to saddle or get on him or even feed or pet the horses used to haul at thrashing time, hay time...my gosh I think even before the haybaler. MY GOSH WHAT MEMORIES. A story was told to someone just yesterday that commented about one of my wood cuts of a red winged black bird....the black birds would be in the elm trees by the thousands and Leslie would shoot them. I would shoot AT them with his BB gun. One day I shot a red winged black bird that fell at my feet and I was devastated. I remember granpa Leslie comforting me. Remember feeding the pigs in the field between the house and, NOW, Phil/Donna's house. In fact I remember reaching over the fence scratching the pigs bellies when ever they were lying close to the fence south of the GREAT house! I loved the times in that house and riding Tarzan all over the surrounding square miles, in homecoming parades in Clearwater. Leslie and Dora were essentially my substitute parents, grandparents, whatever. I recall seeing a big bull snake in the basement at one time, at the foot of the basement stairs!!! Exciting. Drove the little tractor to help in various chores, graduating to the John Deer and even the Case, once in a great while. Enough for a while. It is bedtime for an old lady. It is nostalgic, memorable and sad...but will look forward to being in the next dwelling. I may have to add more as I remember sort of a rush to move to the house across the road because Phil was on his way into the world. Took you on Tarzan and Bill Young's Jimmy many, many times. Love ML