like they used to

31 July 2013

2013-07-31 10.26.52

(unsympathetic latter addition to original stone farmhouse)

Most times in my work, I get involved with projects with fascinating aspects to them. When you work with existing buildings, especially “old” ones, you just never know what you’ll find. It always amazes me to walk through old farmhouses.

How did they live? What were they thinking about during the day? What was this house like decades ago when people originally lived here? Was it romantic as we visualize it or was it difficult? Did they even stop to think about it? What stories does the house still tell if you “listen”?

I am not presenting an opinion necessarily about these photos other than to simply share a few curious images. Enjoy.

2013-07-31 10.38.27

solid stone walls with wood inserts for window anchorage

2013-07-31 10.34.47

solid stone walls…everywhere

2013-07-31 10.31.26

I wonder when they added oil storage tanks for fuel for the furnace…there are two chimneys and likely was a fireplace on each level at both ends of the house

2013-07-31 10.41.33

yes…bark

2013-07-31 10.41.09

necessity is mother of invention…wood pin joint

2013-07-31 10.42.40

and last, but not least…real wood…super wide boards that you just can’t get anymore…wow!

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10 Responses to “like they used to”


  1. Incredible Lee. Not many like that over here on the West Coast. What amazing buildings…. sniffle sniffle

  2. Ted Rusnak Says:

    Timely comments, for me at least, as I just sold my circa 1837 home. For the last 26years I’ve been trying to bring it back while raising a family in it.
    I should have begun a diary of the what and where’s that were found or uncovered.
    My last project was the exterior and after three years she’s a beauty…..but there’s still the matter of the style of barge board. Ah, well, the new Owners will have something to do.

  3. Jeremiah Says:

    “necessity is the mother of invention”. I love this old adage. This is exactly why older homes are so beautiful and charming and LASTING. Materials were not found at your local hardware store (hence bark left on a support beam). If you screwed up you most likely had to start over at great expense and cost of time. So they figured out how to do things right and do them right the first time.
    Great post, Lee. As always.

  4. jane Says:

    delete this if I’m too pedantic! The historian in me has to comment…

    Oil tanks go in the basement when we have oil trucks with technology to to deliver the oil, instead of coal which could be shoveled by hand – not before the late 1920’s… probably late 1940’s.

    The bark is on the beam partly because they wanted the strength of the whole tree – squaring it off would have lost some of its mass.

    That is not an iron peg – unless you touched it and can vouch for it
    – It is a wood peg – traditional post and beam, mortise and tendon construction. A 5, 6 or 8 sided wood peg. Sometimes called ‘tree-nails’ or ‘trunnels’ because originally they were small branches from trees.

    I like those pictures! Thanks

    • leecalisti Says:

      I was waiting for your comments Jane, thanks.
      I figured the oil tanks were a post WWII thing. I never mentioned coal though. They may have gone from fireplaces alone to a furnace when that technology came about.
      I showed the bark because I found it curious, not that I’ve never seen it before. However, in old houses I’ve worked on with rough sawn lumber, the only bark left of the tree was usually only on the tree trunks used as columns in the basement. It’s rare that I see it still on rafters.
      I’ll give you the wood peg -good catch. I looked again and it is a wood peg like a mortise and tenon joint.
      No one commented on the amazingly wide floor boards. We don’t get trees that large anymore.

  5. Ted Rusnak Says:

    It didn’t dawn on me that you had, in fact, been standing on those boards. Considering the time frame in which my home (1837) was built and the location (Aurora) and the owners occupation (farmer) I’m thinking that I should have had wide plank floors….but no, I get the six inch wide, ship-lapped plank floor…throughout the house. Obviously a more affluent gentleman than I had considered.
    Oh, my wide plank wood is on the roof and goes to about 30 to 34inches and, yes, the obligatory bark on the rafters.
    I am really going to miss that place.


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