30 June 2009

Quick update.

Just a quick update to show you the installed tub, since I finally remembered to snap a picture of it. The half-wall beside it hides the toilet from view upon entering the bathroom. There will be a shelf on the toilet side for extra TP and the ever-present library collection.

So we read in the bathroom. Don't judge us.

The front of the tub will feature a removable access panel. I found an interesting schematic that I think will work well, and you'd never know there was a panel there. There will also be another panel on the toilet side to make it easier to reach the motor. Our bathroom will have a bit more color in it than this example, but this is what I was going for with the tub:

All that white is a bit blinding.

This weekend, we also finally cleaned up the glass from the broken window, stubbed out the sink plumbing, connected the tub drain, and added in nailing blocks for drywall. We should be ready to drywall in the bedroom this weekend. It's possible I'm being overly optimistic, but I think we can get the majority of the drywall hung in the bedroom this weekend. Then you'll really be able to see the progress.

27 June 2009

Mysteries revealed.

The county auditor has our home listed as being built in 1870, but we've always doubted that date. It's an old house, but we really didn't think it was that old. I probably could have found more accurate records at the courthouse, but my work schedule doesn't work well with their 4:30 pm closing time. The previous owner told us what he knew - or what he thought he knew - about it, which wasn't much. He gave us the name Peter Kline. He was a physician, and because of his job was a fairly prominent citizen, so he was easy to track down.

Found in a book of local history, published when Kline was alive.

I found census records and his listing in the telephone directory (his telephone number: 1. How awesome is that?). One of the directories gave a physical location, too - the northeast corner of Fourth and Washington. That's our intersection, but it's the wrong corner. It turns out that all his addresses had odd numbers, which means he lived and worked on the opposite side of the street. So I was basically back to nothing.

I did find out that his son was also became a doctor and practiced briefly in Portsmouth. The information I found indicated that he also lived on Fourth Street, but I couldn't pinpoint an address. I kept him in mind, thinking maybe the previous owner got the names confused and it was actually his son that lived in the house.

I stumbled upon some old fire maps of the area in a earch tonight. It turns out we were right about the house. The earliest map, dated 1884, shows a building on our lot, but it is definitely not our house.

The building that is not our house is circled in red.

Two maps later, in 1892, the building is gone.

In the 1904 map, the footprint for the existing house is shown. It also indicates "from plans," meaning the house was not yet complete. This note was removed by the 1911 map, so we at least narrowed it down to a 7-year period.

Yes, our next-door-neighbor's house was - and still is - nearly identical.

These maps also indicate the older numbering system for the city. The 1911 map indicates both the old system and the new (current) system. Our house was listed as 52 W. Fourth Street. I went back to the census for this time period and looked up Peter Kline's son, Charles Flint Kline. His address is listed as 56 W. Fourth Street - our next-door-neighbor. And because the census was taken door-to-door (not listed alphabetically), it was easy to see who lived in the next house - Samuel Peebles.

At some point, our entire backyard was covered in brick pavers, many of which bear a "Peebles" stamp. There was a brickyard in Portsmouth called the Peebles Paving Brick Company. Samuel's involvement in the company certainly explains why our house is brick when so many from that time period have wood siding. So far I've not been able to find out anything else about him, but I'll keep hunting. It feels good to know a little bit more about the house, but I still have many more questions and will keep up the hunt.

21 June 2009


We didn't get as much accomplished this weekend as we originally planned because of a little wiring mishap. While I was finishing up the tub framing, the outlet suddenly died. I thought it was just a tripped breaker (since I was running the compressor for the framing nailer and the radio and the power tool battery charger all on the same outlet). But apparently while Tom was working on running the new circuits down to the basement, he hit a cable with the angle drill, nicking the wire and shorting the circuit. Since I couldn't finish the framing upstairs, and couldn't really do anything to help with the electric (and also to keep me from wanting to strangle my dear husband), I mowed the lawn instead. By the time I was finished, Tom had repaired it temporarily. He simply cut out the bad section and connected the wires with wire nuts, which is definitely not to code. We'll have to re-run that section of wire, but the temporary fix will suffice for a while.

We ran into another problem with the tub wall that day, too. It had to do with the 2x4 supports under the lip of the tub being out of level, but we fixed that problem today. By the end of the day yesterday, I was too grumpy to want to fool with it anymore. (To be fair, I bumped my head on the wall - hard - and had a horrible throbbing in my head any time I leaned over.) We planned on plumbing the tub today, too, but were unable to complete that. The pipe for the overflow assembly was about 3 inches too short for our installation. I thought that overflows were a pretty standard thing, but I guess whirlpools are different.

This weekend wasn't a total loss, though. We did manage to run the electric for all the new circuits and connect them to the main breaker, and the tub frame is done with the tub in place. I have a few more odds and ends to pick up at Lowe's, then we should really have all that done next weekend. And the biggest news of the day: the bedroom is pretty much ready for drywall. I have a bit of cleaning up to do, but we'll almost certainly be ready for wallboard next weekend.

15 June 2009

Progress, but no pictures.

Tom and I had a busy work weekend at the house, and I feel like we got a lot accomplished. We:

- Hauled our Jacuzzi bathtub upstairs (negotiating the turn in the stairs was a trick).
- Hung the recessed light for the shower.
- Figured out exact heights for hanging vanity lights and hung electrical boxes.
- Ran the electric for bathroom lights and outlets.
- Built half the frame for the bathtub.
- Cleaned the crystal chandelier.
- Finished insulation in bedroom ceiling and bathroom.
-Made cutout for tub's drain/overflow assembly.

Our workday yesterday was cut short by the local university's emergency broadcast system, which informed us that a tornado had been spotted an hour west of town and was headed in our general direction. Francesca drove by the house honking the car horn, informing us that our work day was over.

On the plate for this week (before the weekend):
- Run wire for Jacuzzi.
- Connect newly run circuits to main breaker.
- Finish tub frame.
- Clean out and vacuum bedroom, closet, and bathroom.

And next weekend:
- Finish bathroom plumbing.
- Cap off other supply lines in the house so we can have the water turned on.