Restoring a 1915 Colonial Revival house

The full basement is one of the areas of the house that has potential, but will be waiting until we get other areas of the house completed. The basement has field stone walls and a concrete floor and looks to have been dry until recent years. Much of the moisture is caused by the overflowing gutters on the roof seeping through the walls and from replacement windows that do not fit right. We'll be cleaning out the gutters this fall, so much of this problem should be solved for the time being then.

When we bought the house, someone had added partitions to the basement that separated it into five rooms of different sizes. The partitions were in poor condition and made the basement feel much smaller. Not to mention, the size of two of the rooms were too small to really do much with.

This is one of the partitions in the basement. If you look closely, you'll notice that it used to be a half wall that someone extended later. When our house was built, it originally had coal heat. This was originally intended to be a coal storage area. The heat was converted to oil sometime between 1922 and 1927, so this area was likely enclosed sometime between the mid 1920s and the 1930s.

Here are two more of the rooms. You can see along the bottoms of the partitions and the cabinets on the left where water once got in the basement. We think this came from the gutters during a downpour, as the walls are solid. This is another reason why it is important to maintain your gutters when your house is surrounded by trees. Gutters fill up with leaves, acorns, branches, and all sorts of other debris. When they are full, the rain water has nowhere to go but straight down in front of your house. Couple that with replacement windows that have gaps with daylight visible between them and the foundation and you're asking for trouble.

There is a laundry area in the basement complete with a washer, dryer, and laundry sink. Fortunately the appliances are in good condition and should hopefully last us at least a few more years we hope. The cabinets will be going away along with the partition that is behind them. The Canada Dry ginger ale crate is probably from the 1940s and is one of several "artifacts" we've uncovered during our work. One of these days I'll make a page of things that we've found in the house.

Adjacent to the laundry area is a circa 1950 Chambers gas range. One of these days I'm going to take this stove apart and see if it's restorable. The room to the left is a half-bath.

This is one of the most unusual features of the basement. This bin is at least 7 feet long and about 3 feet deep. We have no idea what its purpose may have been. At first we were thinking the house may have had a wood burning furnace in it at some point and this would be for storing firewood, but we're not sure. Another unsolved mystery of owning an older house. Unfortunately the bottom is pretty well destroyed with insect damage, so it will need to go.

This is one of the porcelain junction plates on the wiring channels along the basement ceiling. The plates bear a patent date of Nov. 25, 1902. Much of the wiring in the house is original to its construction. That said, most of it is good wiring for 1915 - some of the best that could be bought at that time. Most of it is still in good condition as well. We will be re-wiring the house room by room as we go, but the wiring is safe for now, provided one doesn't put too big of a load on one circuit.

Click here to proceed to the basement demolition page

Click here to proceed to the page on heat pipe insulation.