Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Old Cafe

We have a neighbour, who is located across the street and over a couple of lots from the Little Blue House. I should say neighbours, actually, because the sole occupants of the house are bats. Our kids are fascinated with this two-storey building, with its boarded-up windows and mysterious facade.

We often go for walks in Atlin, as it's full of such fascinating and mysterious Gold Rush era structures. According to Diane Solie Smith's book, A Guide to Atlin's Historic Buildings, this one has been a "cafe, a bakery, and sometimes there were rooms to rent upstairs. On the shady side, it was occasionally an outlet for bootleg liquor."

In Atlin, it seems, there is always a shady side. Or, perhaps, our small corner of town was simply the shady area... (There is another purpose-built brothel just around the corner from our LBH, which is a former brothel itself.)

The cafe was built in the mid-1920s by a fellow from New Zealand. The cafe was owned later on by a Norwegian named Kris Johnsen, an avid cross-country skier. According to Smith, "His rental rooms upstairs were immaculately clean and ready for overnight guests. However, when someone needed a place to stay, Kris most often declined the business."

The theory behind this unwillingness to rent out the beautiful rooms is that he did not wish to disturb their tidiness!

The building still has a For Sale sign on it, and it has been that way for decades. Despite several serious offers, the old cafe was never sold. Kris still owned the building when he passed away in his mid-90s.

The old cafe now leans to one side, and stares forward stoically, with its windows broken. Children peek through the gaps to see inside the darkened cafe. Remnants of the building's former purpose litter the floor, along with broken glass and cobwebs.

A Child Peeks Inside the Old Cafe

Atlin Walk

The Little Blue House, Viewed from the Old Cafe

On summer evenings, bats may be seen, swooping and diving for bugs. They appear to be the new residents of the Old Cafe, keeping watch over the place... at least during the night. Shady indeed.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Where is the LBH?

I should finally divulge the location of our little town. I have been hesitant to do so, fearing (hopefully, without just cause) that crazy internet hackers and criminals would descend on the Little Blue House to harass or otherwise cause mischief to our dear LBH. I imagine that is not the case, and after much careful consideration, I have decided that you (who are reading this post now) are not a crazy internet hacker or criminal mastermind. Mwooo ha ha ha HAAAA!

You aren't, are you?

Many readers who are visiting this blog have found it using the link on the Old Houses website, under restoration stories. Our LBH is the third listing from the top, which is wonderful. Those readers will already know the name of this small town. That is a fantastic website, by the way, so I shall include a link to it here:

So, without further delay, I will tell you where the LBH is located.

The Little Blue House is located in Atlin, BC, Canada, which is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Atlin is sometimes referred to as "Little Switzerland," and it is with good reason. I will most definitely blog about Atlin in the near future.

One of the reasons I wished to tell you the name of this town, is so that I may give proper credit in the future for some of the historical facts about Atlin. In another post, perhaps my next one, I would like to describe one of the homes near the LBH, which is abandoned. Much of that story I have learned from reading Diane Solie Smith's book, A Guide to Atlin's Historical Buildings. It was published by the Atlin Historical Society in 2003.

As far as I know, the only place where one can buy this book is from the Atlin Museum, open seasonally. The Atlin Museum is pictured below. I believe it was constructed in 1902, and it was Atlin's first real school house. It was moved from its original location in later years and it is now a Travel Info Centre and a great little museum.

I am looking forward to telling you about Atlin! Happy reading.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Follow My Board on Pinterest!

I thought it might be interesting to start brainstorming, and gathering ideas regarding the restoration of the Little Blue House. There is a wealth of information online on this subject, and it is challenging to organize all of it.

To that end, I've started a board on Pinterest entitled, "Victorian Home Restoration."

You can visit the board at:

I have tried to put the "Pin It" button here on my blog, too, but I have obviously not figured it out correctly... I am figuring this stuff out as I go along.

I hope you like my bulletin board! I promise to write more here soon.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

What I'm Reading

Happy 2013! I cannot believe that it's nearly the end of January. I haven't written a post in well over a month... We are planning the gradual restoration of the Little Blue House. I met with a contractor in late fall regarding the home's foundation. (I described the issues with the foundation in a previous post - see Our Home's Feet.)

We plan to do as much of the groundwork as we can, prior to the contractor starting work on the foundation in July. He is going to bring the house back to a level position and, in addition, he will add insulation to the floor. Currently, the floor (like the walls) is not insulated.

I have been reading two books, which are proving to be really informative. We have some time to research and school ourselves up on Victorian houses, prior to starting the groundwork in the late spring. We will have to wait until the ground thaws before we can really do anything. It's currently frozen solid...

Here is the first book, by Kit Wedd. It is a nice, large size with some good photos and drawings. I am finding it to be a great primer on Victorian houses.

The second book is by Alan Johnson, and it contains more specific information on how to restore houses (ie. foundations, roofs, floors, staircase, porches, etc.). I wish to become more informed on these subjects, not being a handy person myself... At least I will know what the contractor is talking about, and perhaps we can make better informed decisions this way...

In any case, it's enjoyable reading, and as it's too cold to work on the house, it seems to be a practical way to prepare ourselves. I think our plan has always been to start with the foundation of the LBH. Then we can move upwards from there, right? If she's not standing up straight, how can we restore her to her once beautiful self?