It has been a busy week and now that the contractors are finished upstairs, my wife and I have gotten back to framing. The bathroom is the most difficult bit with a combination of water damaged sub floor and dodgy 1870s wall studs.
It was obvious that in 1870, the carpenters were running out of the best lumber and the bathroom walls were made of whatever they had left which had more in common with soft pretzels than anything else. It was actually 2″x 4″ in size but it was soft pine that can’t hold a screw and large knots caused it to bend and twist in the most agravating ways. This was okay in 1870 when the walls were covered in lath and plaster which could handle the irregularities. Modern drywall; however, requires a more consistent substrate which some of these old walls could not provide.
In the picture, I’ve used a mix of 1870s lumber, 1920s lumber recycled from the first floor and new lumber. I have to say the the new and 1920s lumber is much easier to use since the size is consistent and there is very little of the pretzel thing going on.
While I was wrestling with the walls, my wife worked on the pilasters at the front of the saloon. The pilasters were wood instead of the typical iron that one would see up in Virginia City and that cast some doubt on their originality.
Then last week, we were shown a photo that was run in the papers last year.
It shows the hotel without the pilasters and a large gas lantern to the left of the front door. At one point in time, the balcony was removed and the pilasters were added for decoration in its absence. Once the balcony was rebuilt, the pilasters remained but were inappropriate to the original design. Based on this hypothesis and the photo, we’ve gotten approval from the Historic Commission to remove the pilasters.
What we found underneath was really interesting too.
The brick wall underneath the pilasters was “penciled” which means that it had been painted brick color with the mortar penciled in with gray paint. Is this part of the original 1800s finish?
And if that wasn’t good enough, the far left pilaster was hiding a survey marker!
Now, I have to figure out when the markers was placed.