While there is little to report from LGH this week, friends Carol and Adam’s renovation is in full swing. Their “Red House” was built in 1843 by Andrew Lovell who, in 1863, sold her. He and his family moved about a third of a mile south, coincidentally, taking up decades of residence at Laughing Gull Hill. Soon after, Captain Lovell became postmaster, and ran the post office in what is now our neighbor’s house on the corner. The map (circa 1880, when Lovell was living at LGH) shows both homes. By the way, legend has it that first croquet played in the US was at the Red House.
Carol’s family moved over from Grand Island to their new family homestead before the summer of 1974. No more midnight treks across the harbor. Sadly, in 2015, the house went on the market. But Carol and Adam, that heroic pair, couldn’t stand it. So they bought out the siblings and moved to Cotuit full time soon after.
The scope of Carol and Adam’s renovation is on the order of the LGH project: updating systems, shoring up the infrastructure, gutting many rooms and making only cosmetic updates to others. But, they are planning the work in stages. In the first stage, they have tackled the kitchen, living room and a large back entry hall/mudroom, about half the main floor. They and their builder (who seems excellent) have sized the first stage to get them back in (from the little cottage they are renting down the street) by July 4.
The kitchen was reconfigured and updated in ’74. It was very dated and, even at the time, not well laid out. The living room was fine, but could be lighter, had a bad chimney and was drafty in winter. The back entry space didn’t lend itself to efficient use. Multiple floor heights across the space were awkward and limiting. Stage one would address all of these issues.
About eight weeks in, there have been some surprises of the unanticipated work kind. Gaps in the siding were horrendous, though fairly straightforward to tighten up with some cables and turnbuckles in the wall. The crumbling stone foundation, far worse than it looked from the outside, was another story.
To deal with the foundation (or lack thereof) the builder took up the floor around the entire perimeter and poured a thick cement footing along the inside. This effectively shored up the old stone construction and provided stable seating for floor joists.
Rebuilding began in the back entry, but as they worked their way to the living room and got a peek underneath, the integrity of the floor joists proved questionable…more than. It was a tough call, because Carol has been adamantly committed to keeping the original floor. But in the end, prudence prevailed. She agreed to pulling up the old floorboards with crossed fingers that they can be salvaged. Along the way was another interesting discovery: a root cellar under the corner of the room. Very cool. (And actually, before they started inside, they had discovered an old cistern as part of their perk test.) Ultimately they removed not only the flooring but all the substructure, and were thus down to dirt.
Now, the subfloor is in place and looking sweet. The walls of brand new windows look spectacular, opening up the view to the modern sculpture-adorned yard and across the Barnstable Land Trust‘s Ropes Field on the corner. Another great addition is the commodious doorway, broken through to the old parlor, now to be used as a dining room, also providing easy access to the marvelous brick patio.
Gutsy job, C & A. We’ll plan on checking in again as the Stage 1 progresses and beyond.
And LGH? We are down to punch list items, but rumor has it that a barn raising might be in the cards. So stay tuned.