It’s Raining…… Inside

What a week we’ve had here at the mansion! Monday morning we woke up to the sound of water pouring in from the ceiling up on the 4th floor and down the main stairwell. It sounded like someone was literally taking a shower on the stairs. The main roof drain had failed and water was flooding in around it. We shoved a large Rubbermaid type tub between the wall & top of the stair railing to catch the water and I was bailing out water from that into a 5 gallon bucket and running it down 4 flights of stairs out the front door and dumping it into the snow outside. Then it was back up the stairs and do it all over again.

Meanwhile, Atom went up on the roof and discovered basically a swimming pool up there on the flat part in the front on top of ice and snow (we got a foot of snow a week ago and it has stuck around due to temperatures well below freezing). We hoisted a 100 ft garden hose up to the roof and created a siphon to drain the water off the side.

The main drain pipe (which is 4” PVC) comes inside the building from the roof, then wraps around the inside 4th floor ceiling, through a wall into a closet and then punches out the side of the building and down to the parking lot level. We discovered that this pipe had completely frozen solid all the way up & to the roof which created this significant back up of water. We are very lucky that it only leaked into the building in that one spot where it just couldn’t handle the amount!! After the water had been siphoned off the roof and Atom shoveled & launched the snow off the roof we wrapped the inside pipe with all of our heating pads to help thaw what we could.

While we were running around like chickens with our heads cut off we heard a loud SMASH and I ran outside to find that a chunk of the drain pipe had broken off and bounced when it hit the ground in the parking lot right next to the building and shattered one of the large basement windows.

I’m thankful it didn’t hit anyone or any vehicles! The window/glass can be replaced relatively easily. Later Monday afternoon, Atom and our son ran that same garden hose from one of the water heaters on the 3rd floor up though the roof access on the 4th floor and he ran hot water over the exposed pipe that comes out the side of the building. After about 5 minutes they heard loud *thunk* noises as a few large 4” chunks of ice broke free and the pipe was flowing again, draining the remaining water off the roof that our siphon couldn’t get. It’s a good thing the window was already broken when these hit the ground in the parking lot!

It is now Saturday and my legs are still sore! My Apple Watch logged that I climbed 48 flights of stairs Monday morning. I haven’t climbed that much at once since I did my last American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb in 2016 when I raced up 32 stories (657 steps) and Monday blew past that number of flights climbed!

Yesterday afternoon Atom was inside the building and heard what he said sounded like an explosion out in the parking lot. He went out to investigate & found the rest of the ice from the no longer functioning drain pipe had shot out the bottom & across the parking lot.

Things dried up super quick inside and we caught it before a ton of damage was done. We will have quite the project ahead of us come late spring/summer to try & reroute the roof drainage back into the original large pipe that runs down inside the building and out to the street level so we will avoid having PVC which isn’t built to last and never should have been used in the first place years ago long before we moved in.

I think this DEFINITELY tops our pipes bursting in the boiler room our first night in indiana!

Just another bump in our renovation journey and if anyone on earth can fix it- it’s Atom!

Light Bulbs

Y’all know how much I love all of the original features to the building. From the gorgeous crown molding, to the super tall ceilings to the light fixtures. Almost every light fixture in the building is original. There is no way we could ever part with them. We are slowly replacing the old cloth-wrapped wiring within them with newer, safer stuff.

Here’s a step by step pictorial of how Atom did it. It’s convenient having someone with 15 years of electrical work under his belt as a husband 😉.

The lightbulbs that you see are temporary LED ones until we can get some more period-specific yet still energy efficient Edison type ones.

Last year our towns park & rec were selling some old lightbulbs that are now collectors items. They were the original bulbs in the Wolf and Dessauar Christmas wreath from 1937 that is on display every year. The 3,148 bulbs had to be removed after they became a fire hazard. Our town had a fundraiser to pay for all new LED bulbs to bring the wreath back to life. I thought I missed out last year on the sale and was super bummed. They announced this past week that they still had some left so I made an appointment to purchase a few. I love the history behind the bulbs & I’m so happy to have them on display in our historic home. The colors of the bulbs you see are all original & in fantastic shape for being 83 years old!

Playing Catch-up

I wanted to start this post with an apology.

I haven’t been able to keep up with this blog as often as I would like and I’m going to definitely try to do better. It’s quick & easy to put a photo up on Facebook & Instagram but this blog takes a bit more time. Time that I promise I will be better at devoting to! Life has been moving at ludicrous speed for us lately and to be honest, I’m tired.

Covid-19 has absolutely exploded here in the Midwest in the past month & working in the hospital has been extremely stressful. I love my job, my career and hospital so much which helps to have the support and amazing coworkers. In the beginning of the pandemic we were lucky to not have too many cases here in northern indiana but now we can barely keep up. The hospitals & ICUs are full and I spend my days at work (I’m a Respiratory Therapist) doing everything I can to keep my patients breathing and alive.

I’m going to make a few catch up posts over the next week of what we’ve been up to since I last made a post at the end of September.

Thanks for being such awesome & understanding followers/friends. We appreciate you all so much!

Stay safe!

Parking Lot Facelift!

Our main parking lot got a facelift yesterday! It’s funny how things just work out sometimes. Atom did a little bit of the sealcoating next to the building last week and had to wait until this week to get back to the store to get more to finish the small strip he was working on.

We knew we would have to wait until the spring to do the entire parking lot as right now we have been sinking all of our funds into the Airbnb suite. With winter coming and some larger cracks in the lot we were nervous about waiting until spring but we knew we’d have to.

Saturday afternoon our doorbell rang and a man said he was driving by and saw the asphalt buckets and asked if we were doing the work ourselves. Atom said yes we’re very slowly doing the work ourselves. He happens to own a asphalt sealcoating business and offered us a killer deal to do the work for us. He warranties all of his work and they came out yesterday and did the job. The parking lot looks AMAZING!

Here’s a before photo (it was raining on Monday afternoon when I took this photo).

And this is what it looks like now! (While still drying)

The company who did the work is Dyno Sealcoating and they’re located here in town. They are professional and a wonderful duo! We couldn’t be happier and it is such a relief to not have to worry about any further cracking over the winter months. We plan to have the back parking lot done in the spring.

The Mystery Organ

We’ve had many people ask over the years about the organ in the building. We actually have two organs, the big old one and there is a smaller electric plug in one without any pipes. Oh and our oldest son has an electric one in his bedroom. Doesn’t every pre teen boy ask for an organ for Christmas or is it just ours? Haha! It is pretty awesome to walk into the living room and have it sound like church coming from his bedroom!

This post will be a bunch of photos of the main organ that is of interest to so many and while we don’t know much about it, I’ll do my best to explain what we do know.

The bad part about the whole organ is that it is not functioning. The power had been cut to it who knows how long ago & it’s somewhere in the walls. Atom tested the electrical and everything to it has no power.

The organ is situated at the back on the mezzanine up on the third floor former grand meeting room.

Here’s what it looks like up close.

There are no identifying markers on the organ itself which is a bummer. There is this little plastic piece that had fallen off the front of it. What we found peculiar is that this piece had been turned around and nailed into place and painted over the same color as the rest of it. I did a quick google search and found a newspaper mention of him in 1919. If the organ was rebuilt by Louis in the early 1900s it makes us wonder just how old the organ really is!

This cute little light on the wall next to the organ makes me smile.

Behind this wall is the room full of the pipes. It’s a pretty camped space but it’s huge and there are so many pipes in there!

It is really hard to get good photos of the pipe room because there are so many but here are a bunch that I was able to take.

The blower is really neat (and really big!) and sits in a room next to the pipe room. There is also no power going to the blower itself, when though there is power to the lights. Go figure. Here are a bunch of photos of the blower and the motor that used to power this beast. Check out the dates!

The way things look now I’m actually relieved because I’m sure the electrical would need to be completely replaced to make it safe by todays standards to turn on.

Someday we will get it working!

Oh! And here’s a photo of the other organ (that’s electric) in another room on the third floor.

Go make some music today friends!

“It’s not a house, it’s an adventure!”

“It’s not a house, it’s an adventure!”

This was a comment that someone made on a post I made in a group all about old homes that really made me stop and think.

Its no secret that we have a pretty large following on social media, which still feels strange and surreal and we are so thankful. From our own pages and the articles that have been written about our project and shares of things we have posted about and the list goes on. I read every single comment on our posts because we truly value all of the positive responses we have gotten and it pushes us to keep going even when things feel absolutely overwhelming (like the current future airbnb suite bathroom which is proving to test us both physically and financially.)

Our house is definitely an adventure! Even when things are frustrating and not going as fast as we would like we choose joy because we are so lucky and thankful to be living this life! We didn’t choose the building, the building chose us. I truly believe that.

Part of our ongoing adventure was moving a MASSIVE old wardrobe that was left behind from the 4th floor downstairs to the second floor. The first time I laid eyes on this sucker I knew I wanted it moved but wasn’t quite sure how to get it down the stairwell. This is the place we planned for it to go in the second floor foyer.

It took 3 years of pondering and we finally came up with a plan after we got it stuck between the 3rd & 4th floors because it was too big to make the turn down stairs. It was painfully obvious that it was built in place a very long time ago. We had 4 of our guy friends over (I totally bribed them with tacos) and they, along with Atom & our oldest son were able to slowly maneuver it down the stairs. It had to be lifted up & over the banister at each turn and there was a lot of yelling PIVOT as they got it down. We have some heavy duty patching to do on the trim around the double doors into the second floor but all in all they got it down in one piece. To say it fits like a glove is an understatement!

The wardrobe measures 8’x7’x2’ and we can fit all five of us inside it and more. It’s a bit deceiving in this photo but it fits exactly between the doors without any overlap. Now that it’s in place we more than likely won’t keep it there forever because I’m not sure I love it in this spot. But considering it took 3 years & 6 guys to get it there, it will stay for awhile until I figure out where to move it next.

Atom had some fun with a quick photoshop edit as we have said so many times over the past week that we’re going to Narnia through the wardrobe!

I wanted to leave y’all with one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen about a week ago. We had just finished dinner when I noticed how red the sky looked from the kitchen window. Which is basically code for “LETS GET ON THE ROOF NOW!” I grabbed my camera and this is what we saw. It literally took my breath away at its beauty. San Diego has some pretty amazing sunsets but I think the Midwest has them beat!

3rd floor bathroom (small) progress update!

This darn bathroom remodel upstairs for the Airbnb suite has thrown us for quite a loop! I suppose we should be totally used to it by now though!

If you haven’t seen any before photos of the upstairs bathroom here are a few:

Here’s one with the steel stall removed:

Our original idea was to break into the sewer pipe where the giant urinal was to change the fittings to a toilet fitting. You’ll have to excuse my total lack of knowing the official names for these things- that’s definitely Atom’s territory and not mine! When Atom broke through the concrete floor down to it he discovered it was a galvanized sewer pipe and it was much smaller than he anticipated.


So that plan wasn’t going to work.

We were going to patch the concrete after removing the urinal and level it out with a new thin concrete layer. However when he broke into it he discovered there were two separate layers of concrete with a filling of rubble thrown in between the layers.

The top concrete layer is approx 4” thick and the lower one is also several inches thick with steel reinforcement mesh. So in total the floor is about 14-16” deep. Yikes. Here is a photo with most of the first layer of concrete removed.

The next hurdle was figuring out which old water pipe went where so they could be updated as nothing in the building is mapped out anywhere at all. That took an entire afternoon to figure out and involved many three way calls with our boys while turning off & on different water valves. Talk about a headache!

This bathroom floor is directly above the second floor foyer and we will be unable to pour a complete new concrete floor due to the weight since it is not a small bathroom. We will have to build new joists to fill the space and add a subfloor and then decide if we want to tile etc.

So what does all of this mean?

This floor/pipe issue has set us back quite a bit on our timeline because this is back breaking work getting all of the layers of concrete removed. It is going to take more time (and money!) than we anticipated to get this sucker done. We ask for patience as we are going as fast as we can. Things are looking more promising for a winter/spring official opening of the Airbnb suite. From the world coming to a standstill for a few months and us not going to the hardware store to get supplies during that time and now this added huge flooring project we are quite a bit behind our loosely based reno schedule.

We’ll get there though! It’s all part of the adventure. Story of our lives!

A Pop of Color!

In addition to our major renovation projects we have a very long list of smaller “weekend projects” that we never seem to get to because the larger projects take up so much of our time. Last week we decided to finally do something with the outside/front of the building. I had asked on our facebook and Instagram pages I think a year or so ago for ideas for what color to paint the three front doors. We knew we wanted to add a pop of color to make the building look more inviting. My issue was when it came down to it I was torn between a few different shades of the color I envisioned. So I basically just kept pushing it off so I wouldn’t have to make a final decision. (Who else can relate there?!)

Ok I’m rambling at this point. Let’s get to it.

Here is a before photo (which was actually taken right before we moved in but nothing changed out front in the 3 years besides adding flower beds.

This is what it looks like now!

I was so torn between either a deep teal or navy blue for the doors. Teal won the internal battle I was having for the past year. Even though I loved the color on the paint swatch, I was soooo nervous to see how it would turn out in the end. We know that teal may not be a color choice for everyone’s front doors but we LOVE IT!

We added a couple large flower pots and planted some lavender in the center and flowers around it. Makes it smell so good when approaching the doors!

We made a couple pretty neat discoveries when sprucing up the front of the building. The metal kick plates on the fronts of the doors that had been painted white for who knows how many years are actually solid brass! We stripped the decades of paint off and Atom sanded and buffed them to a mirror shine. The brass really makes the teal on the doors pop even more and ties it all together!

I laugh at that photo of Atom wearing the swim goggles every time I see it because it’s so funny! His regular eye protection/goggles were fogging up too much due to the humidity so he grabbed one of our pairs of swim goggles and they ended up working surprisingly well!

The original light fixtures out front are also brass and we polished them as well. To be honest I think I actually liked the patina better vs the polished version so I’m pretty sure we will let them all re-patina over time.

Probably the coolest discovery with this weekend project was Atom’s discovery up on the little platform above the doors. There is really neat ironwork across in that area and Atom was wire brushing it so he could add a fresh coat of black paint because the old paint was peeling and flaking off. As he started brushing, he immediately realized that the vertical strips of what look like flowers are actually solid bronze! Fun fact- Atom worked for a number of years in a bronze foundry when he was a teenager so he is trained to spot bronze immediately. After several applications of heavy duty paint stripper and some buffing/polishing, the flowers look STUNNING!! (These photos were taken before the rest was painted with a fresh coat of black paint.)

It feels like an entirely new home! It’s amazing what a pop of color can do!

Wishing you all a fun, safe, and socially distant 4th of July!

Spring, is that you?

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that these past two months have been super weird. The world as we know it has changed and priorities have shifted. In addition to slowly working on the future Airbnb suite upstairs, we have been working on other various projects throughout the building and sort of playing catch up. Anyone who is a homeowner can relate that there are usually multiple projects going on at the same time. Story of our lives.

We planted some gorgeous hydrangea bushes out front, our tulips have all bloomed and we have so many stargazer stalks starting to peek through the surface. If you remember, stargazers are my absolute favorite flower!

I was so excited to put the hydrangeas in the ground and out of their pots that I didn’t even take into account that it was only the beginning of April and not after Mother’s Day. Whoops! Live and learn for next year! We had a decent snow on April 17th and it killed the hydrangea blooms so we cut them back and are keeping our fingers crossed that they will come back next year. I guess we are still somewhat in the mindset of california planting where you can basically plant anything year round.

Easter was different this year as I’m sure it was for you too. We had an indoor egg hunt for our kids and it took them an entire hour to find all 100 of them up on the third floor! We watched church online which has become the norm. I can’t wait until we are able to congregate together as a church family and Atom & I can both get back to playing guitar and singing on the worship team.

Atom has started working on the full wall mural in our oldest son’s room. He has started sketching out the design that our son came up with and will be working on it little by little. It’s going to be spectacular and really capture what he loves. Here’s what the wall looked like when the base coat of pale yellow was added last week.

We busted open the rear roof hatch last week since the weather was nice and Atom built a new opening and extremely sturdy heavy duty ladder to get up to the back part of the roof. I think the “secret staircase” had more action in those couple days than it has had in nearly 100 years!

It is finally really starting to feel like spring and the trees all around town are in full bloom and are really a sight to see. I think I love spring as much as I do fall in this state! We have taken many walks/hikes as a family and even Paul Hewson has been out a few times now that he is used to his harness.

The basement has become a favorite space for all of us lately- we have been doing A LOT of rollerblading and playing games as well as working out as a family. It’s a fantastic stress reliever!

Our oldest son (age 12) spent many days using both of his 3D printers to make mask ear savers for my coworkers at the hospital. He truly has a servants heart and we are so proud of him. My coworkers were very grateful!

Speaking of work, I’m still working the frontlines in the fight against covid19. We are fortunate that our area of the country hasn’t been hit as hard unlike New York and other large cities. It is still stressful but we’re powering through. My family and friends have been so supportive and I have received a few care packages that brought tears to my eyes!

As if I am not already at the hospital enough when I’m working, I had to spend the night this past Monday/Tuesday as a patient. My body freaked out and decided to short circuit and knock my electrolyte levels critically out of whack which royally ticked off my already grumpy heart and earned me an overnight stay. It is weird being on the other side as a patient in my own hospital, but I will say there is no other place I’d rather be than in the extremely capable and compassionate hands of my incredible coworkers/friends. They truly are the best and I am blessed beyond words to have them in my life. I’ll spare you the gnarly photos of how bruised my arms are from the bazillion blood draws I had to constantly check my levels. I am feeling so much better and will have a lot more testing in my future (I have an amazing medical team) but that’s just how I roll and it’s all good. Not my first rodeo! I am thankful for a handful of days off to rest and let my body recover.

I hope y’all are staying well and safe!

Airbnb suite progress update!

In this time of sheltering in place Atom has been hard at work on several different projects we have going at the same time. Since we aren’t making any unnecessary trips to the store for building materials/supplies, so we are making do with what we have on hand for the time being. It has taken quite awhile to remove the ceiling in the airbnb “Egyptian” room as well as some of the plaster from the walls. For reference if you forgot this is what the room looked like after the carpet was pulled up & before we started the walls etc.

Similar to the removal of the basement ceiling that took nearly a year and wasn’t easy, the ceiling upstairs took some time and serious strength from Atom to get it all down. Here are some in progress photos.

Unfortunately we were unable to save the mural work on two of the walls as the plaster was literally crumbling off and falling off in giant sheets so there was no way to even attempt to repair it. We rigged up this makeshift debris shoot out of trash cans and super thick painters plastic (which we later replaced with a heavy duty tarp) and it worked like a charm to drop the construction stuff off the fire escape and straight down to the dumpster! Sure beats hauling it all down the stairs!

This is what the room currently looks like:

I want to keep the exposed brick on the far shorter wall (y’all know how much I love brick!) but the rest will be covered along with a new ceiling and insulation added to help with temperature management.

On Monday, I did what was quite possibly the hardest workout of my life. Atom and I carried 1,000 lbs of drywall up three flights of stairs for the room. It took a total of 14 trips which is the equivalent of 42 stories. I’ve done a few stair climb races in the past for the American Lung Association in the past and this was so much more difficult. Every inch of my body was so sore the next day and is still sore today but I am pretty darn proud of myself! Tuesday I made this shirt for myself to adequately sum up how I’ve been feeling lately.

We are hoping to stay on track and get the suite done as fast as we can all things considered. But this is basically a complete gut and start over with this particular room/bathroom so it’s going to take time. Next we will be starting to attach the drywall and add insulation to the room as well as demo the adjoining bathroom to get it ready for its remodel.

Hope you all are staying safe and healthy!