Archive for January, 2009


Thursday, January 8th, 2009

House RescueStart a large, foolish project,
like Noah.

It makes absolutely no difference
what people think of you.


Latest posting: 14 January 2009

I’ve been wanting to blog this project since it started, but it seems like I’ve had very few waking moments since August 4, when I first laid eyes on this house, that have not been spent working on it.  This remains true today; nevertheless, I’m going to give it a shot.  One big reason I want to do this is that I’ve had so much wonderful help, and building community has felt like a large part of the bigger picture of this whole project. So I want to keep anyone interested informed about what’s going on.  To all of you who have helped me so far, who have contributed your time and energy and even money to this work, I extend my great and heartfelt gratitude. Your support has been essential, and made it possible to manifest a dream. I especially want to acknowledge and thank my sweetheart Corinne, who’s helped in innumerable ways, with everything, from the beginning, and who’s also had to put up with my attention being so fully focused on the project.

I kinda jumped off a cliff when I took it on to save this beautiful house, and ultimately it’s going to cost more than I have. If you’d like to contribute to this huge recycling/sustainability project, you can buy a brick with your name (and/or message) on it that will be ultimately be incorporated in our garden. The link for that, which also has more about this whole thing, is Check it out.

Here’s a couple PI stories and a YouTube video to give some background on this house-saving/home-building project:

YouTube – How to Recycle a Home

From this point, I’ll try to make daily updates, as well as work backwards, trying to remember and note the milestones and stories along the way. I’ll  also put out calls for help when things come up that threaten to swamp me. Learning to be able to ask for help has been major lesson, and I continue to find out more about both giving and receiving help.

Up On Cribbing 10 september 2008
Up On Cribbing 10 september 2008

The whole process has been and continues to be a huge learning experience and transformative process for me. I find I have to keep digging deeper inside to stay up with the demands that arise. I may include some of this inner work in the blog, or may have a side-blog for that stuff, or… who knows.  Like the house-move itself, I’m just going to jump on this blog-thing and ride it where it goes. I’m brand new at blogging, so have patience, it may take a few tries to get it right. I look forward to your comments.

Here’s what’s happening, starting from the most recent and working back….

Jan 7. …the most recent being last night and this morning. Some things make progress, some seem to fall apart. Corinne, Sky and I worked very hard (see pics) to save as many of the plants from the yard as we could, including some big beautiful old rhodies and a couple of ones I can never remember the name of, but they have deep green leaves and lovely, fragrant white blossoms in the spring (OK, I looked it up… pieris japonica). They’ve been doing OK so far, having survived dragging them around the yard to stay out of the way of various construction processes.  But now the burlap is starting to give way, the root balls are losing dirt, and they are beginning to look distressed.

Digging rhodies to plant in new garden

Digging rhodies to plant in new garden

Last night the strong wind we’re having knocked over a couple of them. I tied and staked them to stay up, but I feel them telling me, “Get us in the ground, fer cryin’ out loud!” But the backfill and grading in the front where they’ll go isn’t done, and I’m not sure when it will be. They’re sitting on a 3′ wide piece of concrete that was my walkway, on the south property line.  I’m thinking of pushing them all together and building a big planter box around them on it. Or, probably better, would be to re-burlap them, adding some good soil to the root balls as we do it. Any ideas about this situation or, even better, help anyone feels called to offer would be very welcome.

Saturday, Jan 3… Spent my first night sleeping in this beautiful house! Woke up to watch a glorious sunrise through the east-facing windows of the second story bedroom. No heat, just a few space heaters, so it’s kinda cold.  But it’s wonderful to feel that this is not just never-ending work, it’s a creation of a home.

Marc 'n me
Marc ‘n me

Friday, Jan 2…. We got juice! Two guys from City Light, one of whom worked moving wires on the big night of the house move itself (his comment… “Yeah, I made a lot of money that night!”), came and attached a new line from the street to the weatherhead and meter box we’d installed.

Backtracking a bit, the house was lowered off it’s cribbing onto the foundation walls we’d built on Friday Nov 21. Since that time, we’d been working on building pony walls, pouring internal footings, putting up beams for the internal support of the joists, digging and installing the sidesewer, and other stuff.

We’d just gotten the water hooked up and tested when the news came early in December of impending freezing temperatures. With no heat in the house and the basement still open to the elements, we had to disconnect and drain the plumbing system to prevent freezing, burst pipes. Then we started working hard to get the electrical system up and running. In the meantime, my wonderful neighbors Dan and Jaycee had let me run a couple of 12 gauge extension cords from their house, so we could run power tools, and I could have a couple space heaters in the house to keep my poor, 100-year-old upright piano from freezing.

22 December 2008, Seattle Snow
22 December 2008, Seattle Snow

December 17 we had it all installed, and called for an electrical inspection for the next day, after which City Light would hook us up.  But December 18 the snow hit, we were buried, and it wasn’t until the 23rd that we got and passed our inspection. The only thing left was for City Light to come, but then holidays came first. Lots of fretting on my part about how cold the inside of the house was getting, and what damage that might do. It wasn’t until Jan 2 that we, with great excitement, saw the City Light cherry-picker truck roll up, and a couple of hours later, power! Woo Hoo!

Building the Arxx ICF Form foundation walls in October…

First course of Arxx forms

First course of Arxx forms

Corinne muscles some rebar into shape

Corinne muscles some rebar into shape

Nearly ready for the concrete pour, 25 October 2008

Nearly ready for the concrete pour, 25 October 2008

14 January 2009

Architecturally, this house is a Queen Anne Shingle Style. I went to the library to find some books on this style to get some ideas for a deck we are building, wanting it to fit with the beauty that this house already possesses. I found a wonderful book called “Classic Houses of Seattle: High Style to Vernacular, 1870-1050” by Caroline Swope. I was paging through it, looking at the pictures of all thses fabulous houses, when, to my amazement and delight, on page 32 I saw a picture of my house!  It was in an ad from 1910 by the architect V.W. Vorhees, a well know architect for that time, for plans for the house.  The dimensions, floor plan, everything but a few minor details was the same. Here it is, with a link to a larger version so you can see the details:


Since we’re on the history here, Heather McAuliffe, fearless leader of the Fremont Historical Society, and instrumental in bringing the impending demolition of this house to the attention of Nickel Brothers, where I found it, has researched the history of this house, and found that it was built in l905 by a Seattle postman, Charles Taylor.  His family lived in the house until 1942. Here’s his official postal picture, from around 1900, courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry.  Is he one snappy-looking dude, or what? Looks kinda like me.

Charles Taylor, who orginally had my house built in 1905.

Charles Taylor, who originally had my house built in 1905.