Sunday, 25 August 2013

Vintage Wallpapers

Here's what I did to preserve and display some of the gorgeous Victorian wallpapers we discovered in the Little Blue House. These particular papers were found in the bedroom. I have placed more pieces in a scrapbook for preservation, along with the newspapers we found. I feel like a historian these days. It's fascinating, and it is a good distraction from the thousands of dollars that are evaporating... Aaaah, our dear LBH, the money pit. :)

Monday, 19 August 2013

The Vancouver Daily Sun

We found a couple of pages from The Vancouver Daily Sun, dated 17 October 1919, underneath the vintage linoleum in the bedroom. One of the guys excavating in that part of the Little Blue House brought the newspaper over to show it to me.

I'm super excited about it, as the paper is a clue in our quest to find out exactly when the LBH was moved to its current location from the now abandoned town of Discovery. The last of the fires that destroyed Atlin happened in 1917, so we know that the house was brought to town sometime after that.

We are still not sure who lived in the house when it was first relocated, but we now have a good clue about who occupied the LBH in October 1919...
Vancouver Daily Sun, 17 Oct 1919
Check out the delivery sticker on our newspaper in the photo below. I just noticed it the other day, as I was placing the fragile paper in a scrapbook - after 96 years or so, it's falling apart. The sticker has faded, but it clearly says, "Eva Lambert."

Eva Lambert's Newspaper

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that Eva was the madam when the LBH was a brothel. She was later married to Samuel James Daniell, at which time she became Eva Lambert Daniell. Perhaps when she first lived in the house, she was not married yet.

Furthermore, we may surmise that it was Eva who had the linoleum installed over top of the original fir flooring in the LBH. It was popular to cover up wood floors back then.

What else might we discover, covered up, in our little house?

Friday, 16 August 2013

The Digging is Finished!

Our contractor and his team finished excavating under our Little Blue House! This is great news for us, because it means that the hemorrhaging of money will slow down somewhat, and most importantly, that the underside of the tiny Victorian house will finally dry out.

The house currently sits atop temporary cribbing, and we have decided to go ahead with proper footings before winter. Our contractor suggested pouring the cement footings and doing the next phase of work with new beams and posts in order to avoid more settling when the ground is wet next spring. He will level the house first, after installing new beams underneath it.

I showed these photos to my dad recently, and he commented that not only are we "in the river and swimming," but that we can literally see the other side!

It's still a bit frightening to know that the floor had to be removed from the master bedroom, due to the beams and some joists being rotten there... But it meant that the excavation went more smoothly and quickly, because the team was able to get underneath the house, where there was no space to work before. It simply sat directly on top of the soil.

The good news is that the floors in the kitchen and parlour are in good shape - they are dry and we will be able to save them. The floors, underneath the linoleum, are made of fir, and I think they will look gorgeous once they're refinished (someday). We will leave scars and imperfections, as they are a testament to the history of this place, in all its 115 years.

Excavation Seen from Underneath the Bedroom
Looking Toward the Front of the House
Little Blue House, August 2013

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Wood Stove Removal

It turns out that our insurance company would not continue to insure the Little Blue House unless we removed or "rendered inoperable" the second wood stove... Of course, we weren't using it anyhow, because the whole set-up was pretty dodgy.

Would you believe that the insurance company people actually said we could "weld the door shut?"

We decided to keep the stove itself, in case we want to use it in another building at some point. Perhaps we can heat the log workshop? Or maybe we can build a tiny guest cabin in the future? It was essentially the chimney that made the whole thing so sketchy: two 90-degree bends and a whole lot of rust, plus water leaking through the ceiling nearby...

So, we removed the stove.

The No. 21 Economy Stove, circa ?

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Great Excavations

My jaw dropped when I saw the rest of the Little Blue House exposed. There is now a great, waterless moat surrounding the house. Our contractor and his team of diggers, along with a local backhoe operator, have created this trench around the LBH. They've done an amazing job so far.

The Moat

When I looked at the exterior wall of the master bedroom, I was appalled, although not surprised. We knew there was a big problem in that room, which is why we had started gutting it from the inside. A corner of the floor felt spongy underfoot and had been an obvious ingress point for mice in the past. From the outside, once the wall was exposed, I could see that the damage was extensive. The beams underneath the floor joists are rotten, and the wood just crumbles when you touch it.

Our contractor made a suggestion... he raised the idea of excavating from the inside of the LBH! Since the beams are rotten, along with some of the joists, the floor would have to be replaced anyways (in the master bedroom). The notion of excavating from the inside, as well as from the front and sides of the house, was something I had not considered previously. The house is sitting on clay and the room available for hand excavation is very limited, so this idea had merit. We decided to go for it.
Exterior Wall of Master Bedroom

The team started to remove the floor and continue excavating, and they are making pretty quick work of it now. I was sad to see the fir floor being ripped up, as we had hoped to refinish it (it was hidden underneath linoleum. Our contractor showed me the flooring and how it had been damaged from being so damp, so I guess it wasn't worth saving. At least the flooring in the parlour and kitchen will be saved; it's all hidden under lino, too.

Out Comes the Floor!

The picture above was taken yesterday afternoon, just after our contractor started from the inside.


Here is the bedroom as of this afternoon. It is interesting, and alarming, to see that when we stood upon the bedroom floor, our feet were less than a foot away from the earth. The bare, damp, un-vapour-barriered, un-insulated, mousy earth. No wonder it was so damp and cold in there!

The other fascinating discovery is that the ground underneath the far corner of the room is absolutely covered in a thick layer of broken glass! It appears to be liquor bottles, all broken, with some rusted metal strapping that perhaps used to hold the bottles together? One of the guys working commented that maybe there used to be a liquor store where our house is now. So perhaps prior to the last fire that destroyed much of Atlin, this was the place to come for booze!

That seems fitting, since after that, it was the site of a brothel. Alcohol, debauchery, what next?