Monday, August 27, 2012

Getting Plastered Slowly

The basement walls are slowly getting plastered. Very slowly ... This wall here is where all my leaks are when it rains for several days.

It looked like this

and then like this after a few applications of plaster over several days when I had some time.

Here is another outside wall that will need quite a bit of work. I discovered that these walls were built with

mud between the stones and not mortar while knocking off the dead plaster. In fact, after loosening a few stones and seeing some daylight through the wall it prompted me to install some galvanized pipe through the hole so that I can hook up an outdoor faucet on this side of the house when I am in the mood to tackle a little plumbing. This could be a while ....

Anyway, my door is made, which is the reason why this whole project began in the first place. My cats can expand their territory and confine their wayward toilet habits to the basement where house guests would not be inflicted with their gastrointestinal dysfunctions!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

"How's that house coming along, Mister Mayor?"

 I get asked this all the time. My reply is "Slowly." However I have managed to get a few things done this month. Since most days this month it has been over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, not much is getting done outside the house. So I have focused on getting some things done inside. For some reason I got inspired to paint the front porch side door. Now it matches the screen door at least.

 Having completed that project I became inspired to get the back door finished. This required a bit more work. Two windows and a median strip were busted out several years ago when some yahoo thought they would find something of value in the house. I also had to finish stripping paint from the door. It took about two days to get done but it now matches the screen door in the back.

The next project that I took on has a unique story associated with it. It began several months ago when one of our cats decided that it was easier to poop on the floor than in the kitty litter box. Several months later the cat still craps on the floor and I am tired of walking into a house that smells like cat poop. Time to move the litter boxes to the basement except there are five rooms down there and a cat could get quite carried away exploring some of the nooks and crannies. This means I need to make a door to stop them exploring four of the rooms. It doesn't pay to be a perfectionist. Most people would just frame in the opening and make a door. However I have visions of one day having a plastered basement that doesn't leak when it rains and is nicely whitewashed the way it used to be about 100 years ago when people cared about their houses. Since I had four bags of mortar laying around, some polypropylene fibers and two buckets of slaked lime I decided that I was in the mood to do some plaster work. Unfortunately I have no before shots because limestone walls look like .... well ... limestone walls. Here are two pictures of the area of wall and the doorway that I have been working on. Next step is to mix some cellar paint and apply before framing in the door. I bought the wood for this already so you may see pictures very soon!

Finally I got around  to making something. Years ago, and it may have been as many as nine years ago, I bought a 3/4 size bed frame at an auction for $20.00. A 3/4 sized mattress costs the same as a full sized one and the bed is smaller so I figured that one day I would turn my bed frame into a bench. Well today is the day! I got the seat boards this week and cut, sanded stained and shellacked them today. Just have to lay a support across the center and my bench will be complete. Just another surface for Elizabeth to pile toys on ......

Friday, June 08, 2012

Good Riddence to Bad Rubbish!

This is interesting. If you have been a follower of this blog since before 2008 then you know full well what prompted me to run for the position of Mayor in our great City of Dayton, Ohio. If you haven't followed this blog for the last 4 years or longer then you can read the post here and a follow up post in 2009 here.

What happened to those houses? Well an interesting thing occurred. Someone from Chicago decided to invest his daughters college fund in tax liens for a quick return on his $100,000 investment. He bought a bunch of tax liens from that Florida investment company holding the liens on many city properties and then made a trip to Dayton to see what he had invested in. Once he realized that he had just wasted his daughters college fund on a bunch of useless property he held on to them all for one year and then negotiated with the City to give them away so he could get a good tax write off. So in December 2010 these two houses became the property of the City. I made it known that I would be interested in acquiring the parcels should the houses ever be demolished. I even had the wife call three demolition companies this year to get a quote on both houses so that we could negotiate something with the city to make them come down. None of the companies responded. I suspect they felt the houses were too close to the neighboring ones and they had enough demolition contracts already with the City that these two properties were not even worth quoting. Well, the City ended up contracting them out for demolition with one of the three firms we called as an extension of an existing contract. They know I am interested in the lots so that may have been a factor. I came home on Monday evening to this.

 By Wednesday the lots looked like this

 and this.

Now, just to be clear, I pulled no strings to have this done. I wouldn't want anyone to think that I am trying to take advantage of my position to improve my own neighborhood. After all, I have been in office for two and a half years and could have pressed for this back in 2010. These two houses have blighted my entire block for over 10 years. Now they are gone and I can reclaim some of the land that was once an original part of the Edgar and Volkenand homestead. Hopefully I will get a phone call asking me to cough up some money to buy the lots in the next few weeks. I will gladly hand my money over to the City for this! Of course it now means that I will have more grass to mow ......

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

More Molding Installed

The time has come to install more molding in the dining room. If you recall, the last time I posted about this the windows and doors were finally trimmed out and the room was starting to look finished. Well, now it is more finished! I have been installing base boards, chair rail and picture rail over the last two weeks whenever I get some spare time. The plan has always been to paint the chair rail and picture rail gold to match the gold in the chandelier, mirror frame, picture frames and the wall paper in the room. I started with a hammered finish metallic gold spray paint which produced the result in the three pieces on the right side in the picture below. To antique the gold I used my old friend, Amber Shellac. Two coats of the stuff produced the three pieces on the left. I painted some black edges to some of the molding to make the gold color stand out even more.

This picture shows some of the chair rail and base board in place. The room is almost finished at the time of writing. I just have to install the molding around the fire place area and on the ceiling before it will be done.

In this picture you can see the picture rail at the top of the wall. It defines the color change from dark green to dark red and is certainly more tidy than the wavy hand painted line I have had to look at for many years! You will also note that I added red and yellow painted daisy details to the corner blocks on the doorways. These compliment the details in the ceiling medallion which you can view in this old post.

So, slowly things are getting done around here. All be it very slowly .....

Monday, April 30, 2012

Shawen Acres Now

So if you read the previous post about the history of Shawen Acres and the Montgomery County Children's Home you would realize that the facility stopped being a home for orphans in the 1970s after it was determined that children were better off in foster care with individual families. The large administration building remained in use until 2001 when the modern Haines Children's Center building was opened. The original buildings have sat vacant and unused for 11 years. During that time the roofs of many buildings developed leaks or were accessed by racoons, birds and squirrels. Some of the basements flooded and the humidity inside the structure has caused paint to peel and floor boards and joists to buckle and warp. Vagrants have accessed the buildings for shelter and thieves have removed air conditioning units and copper plumbing. The porches have become popular locations for prostitutes to perform the horizontal hoochee and the 19 acre grounds are too large for the county sheriff to police. The county has submitted a proposal for demolition and a re-use plan that includes expanding the green space on the property and preserving the original nursery building which was restored and is currently used. The neighborhoods support the plan but the Landmark Commission voted 4 - 3 to preserve the structures. The county intends to bring the case before the city commission on May 30, 2012 because we have the ability to overturn the Landmark Commission recommendation. When I heard this I asked to see the interiors of the buildings. Some would say that I know a thing or two about renovation work. You are about to view a series of pictures. They are not labeled as to which building is which but I can tell you that all the buildings except one which was preserved several years ago are in similar condition. The structures are ALL concrete block institutional type buildings with no insulation and iron joist beam support for the second story in each structure. Many of the interior rooms are very small with concrete interior walls. There are no outstanding architectural details inside any of the buildings. The arts and crafts fire places are very plain. The only attractive feature about the buildings is how they appear from the outside. The tile roof, fancy chimneys and stucco English cottage style are the only good thing about the buildings. The buildings have deteriorated because the county uses money allocated for children's service to attend the needs of children and not to maintain and heat empty buildings. These buildings are not really relocatable due to the masonry construction and if they were renovated on site they would have to be used to serve "helpless and unfortunate children" due to a deed restriction.
The front of the administration building will be salvaged and reused on the grounds.
This is the back of the administration building. The attached gym was demolished in 2004.
A vulture flew out of this hole in the roof while I was there. Maybe it was feasting on something inside!
This is just one of many large piles of raccoon poop present in one of the buildings.
This ridge under the carpet is due to a warped floor joist that has risen some six inches.
This is looking up through the ceiling to the light shining through a hole in the roof.
The renovated former nursery looks like this.
Now that you have read all this and seen the pictures you would likely agree that the only future for these structures is to demolish them. However, if you have the funds and a reuse plan for the buildings that serves the purpose as listed in the deed restriction then you can call the Assistant County Administrator, Amy Weideman at 937-225-5802 to discuss your ideas. If they are feasible then the county may throw in funds that are saved from the demolition budget which is almost $350,000 for the entire project. I would do it before summer though because these will start to come down in the fall of this year assuming we overturn the decision of the Landmark Commission that is.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Shawen Acres AKA Montgomery County Children's Home - Then

According to Wikipedia

Shawen Acres, also known as the Montgomery County Children's Home, is an historic complex at 3304 N. Main St. in Dayton, Ohio. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 9, 1991.
It was originally designed as an orphan’s home. Dr. Charles Shawen donated 19 acres (77,000 m2) to the county March 21, 1926 for "wayward and homeless children." The complex comprises a main building, annex, gym, and 10 English-style cottages in a park-like setting.

Here is the Sanborn Fire Insurance map from 1932
This is how the grounds looked in 1955. Not certain what the extra buildings were but one may have been a boiler room to heat all the buildings.
This was the nursery building back in the day. This is the only building that has been renovated and is still in use today. You can read about the place in it's current condition in the next post.
Here is a photo of a photograph that hangs on the wall in the renovated nursery building showing the place soon after inception.
This stone lies near the same building.
There is a sad tale to tell about this facility now and you can read about it in the next post.