Saturday, November 23, 2013

Riley Lodge: Our Story - Preparing for the Move

The day after receiving the key, we started readying the house for its relocation. Everything attached to the main house had to be torn down, including the two-storey veranda and the wooden cold pantry at the rear. Our building mover, York Shaw, also wanted the brick chimneys demolished, worried they could collapse during the move and damage the interior.

Fire escape stairs gone ...

Presumably a later addition for the safety of the tenants, not that
the stairs themselves looked particularly safe ...

When the spouse started removing cedar shakes from the veranda, it was obvious somebody was living underneath. Along with a camp cot and bedding, there were plastic boxes with dishes, a hotplate, an alarm clock and books, with carpeting on the ceiling and walls. A note was left for the occupant advising them the veranda was coming down, and shortly thereafter the items disappeared.

Second floor veranda being dismantled ...

Both levels removed, with the only the brick columns remaining ...

Family and friends volunteered their efforts on weekends, the spouse doing the majority of the demolition work himself. After finishing his night shift, he would put in four or five hours at the house before eventually heading home to bed. Because the power and water had been shut off in January, it was too dark inside the house after the insomniac's  work day ended at 4:00 p.m., and she was only able to help on weekends. Her job was to carefully remove the wood trim from around the windows and doors, pull out the nails, then label it and take it offsite for storage. She hauled bricks from the dismantled chimneys down from the attic and second floors, stacking them against the exterior walls on the main floor to provide ballast during the move. The wooden columns, sandstone lintels and extra bricks not required for ballast were also taken offsite (offsite being a fancy way of saying the Sainted Parent's garage). Not to mention, her considerable cleaning skills were also put to good use ...

Immediately after possession of the house, the vandalism started. Windows were smashed and the house broken into on a nightly basis. One morning there was evidence someone had tried to start a fire in the front hall - at that point we hired a security company to patrol four times a night. We also tried to get insurance for the house ... our regular insurance company who we'd been with for years dropped us as clients, saying it was too controversial.

The police would often stop by while the spouse was working, especially if they happened to notice the front door open or, in one instance, the plywood in the parlour window being kicked out so the spouse could toss out a load of plaster. They kept a close watch on the house, and we were very grateful.

Despite the best efforts of the police and the security company, vandalism remained a constant problem right up until the day of the move, and we lost much of the original glass in the windows.

Since the plumbing, heating and electrical all needed replacing to meet code, we thought it best to remove all the lath and plaster from the interior while the house was still sitting at the old site - to avoid having a mess at the new site and annoying the neighbours even further. Seven dumpsters later, all the abandoned appliances, lath and plaster had been hauled away. The veranda was a popular spot for storing broken fridges, stoves and washing machines - approximately seventeen of them, if we remember correctly.

Originally, we called this room The Library.

As it never ended up housing more than a
single bookcase, it eventually became known
as simply The Fireplace Room.

Second floor hallway ...

Old wallpaper discovered underneath
the wood trim in the front entry ...

Looking up the main stairwell to the second floor ...

Looking down the stairwell to the main floor ...

Stairs to the third-floor attic,
and wallpaper inside the youngest's bedroom closet ...

The Attic, after dismantling the chimney ... 

Our one and only bathroom ...

After relocation, the tub was moved into the youngest's
bedroom and the water damaged floor replaced.

Chimney bricks stacked against the kitchen
wall for ballast ...

On March 24th, the spouse was working at the house when a Building Inspector came by and ordered him to stop all work. Having been in almost daily contact with the Land Department, it came as a complete surprise not only to us but the Land Department as well, when the inspector said the offer of the house had been frozen a week after Council had approved it and we had no right to be doing anything to it. He said he hoped we hadn't removed anything. Just one more in a series of roadblocks that were constantly thrown in our path, presumably in an attempt to discourage us from carrying on. The issue was resolved the next day and work resumed.

During the demolition, a number of items were discovered in the walls and ceilings - a thermos cup, computer punch cards, receipts, a box of tiles, plus an Edwardian black silk blouse that was donated to the Glenbow Museum. The spouse also found a lock of hair, but he said it made him uncomfortable and he got rid of it. He and a friend who often helped with the demolition said they regularly felt a presence when working inside; always prefaced by a quick movement at the corner of the eye, followed by the smell of perfume and when they turned around, a small, dark-haired woman would be standing there. Both agreed she seemed friendly.

Old photos and negatives, embossed wallpaper trim,
engraved metal A.M.D. Gypsum Bandage medallion,
Red Canal de Vieux Button, an old electrical certificate ...

We finished our portion of the work on April 12th - the following day, York Shaw started their far more complicated preparations ...

IA

34 comments:

  1. Amazing! What a ton of work, though! Did you ever feel like giving up?
    How fun to find all those things in the house. I only found baby's socks and mold when I moved into mine!

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    1. I do remember going to bed very tired for a very long time, Mme. Polaire. But we couldn't give up ... who would've bought the house from us? ;o)

      I'm kind of sad I gave that blouse away though - what was I thinking! Baby socks and mold, eh? Did you keep the socks and a sample of the mold, I hope?

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  2. How exciting -- your very own ghost! I bet it was her blouse you found in the walls.

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    1. You know, Debra - I bet you're right! But she never made the move with us to the new site. Or at least, we haven't ever seen her again. :o)

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  3. This is the best story. I can't wait until the next blog!

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    1. Thanks, Rhonda! I thought everyone would find it pretty boring, but I guess I was wrong! :o)

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  4. That was quite an Odyssey! Vandalism is one of the things that never cease to shock me.

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    1. I know, Variations on Light ... it's just so senseless and malicious. I've never been able to understand it myself. :o(

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  5. Ghosts! :D I would be thrilled to have one of those, friendly ones of course. I've always said that when I buy a house, I will first check with my dogs - if they approve, it's fine. :)
    Finding a lock of hair or other personal items would be scary... but at the same time exciting!

    Vandalism... I just really, really, hope that something like karma truly exists.

    And as before, cant wait for the next post! :D
    Oh, and I hope the ghosts were OK with getting their house moved. ^^ Did you notice anything while you lived there?

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    1. Oh yes, you'd definitely only want to have one of the friendly ones, Sandra! I trust the spouse's intuition - if he said it made him  feel uncomfortable, throwing it away was definitely the right thing to do!

      Me too ...

      I'll answer your last question in the next few posts ... No spoiler alerts here! ;o)

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  6. Wow! That´s a strong experience. I have always felt very curious about supernatural things, specially hunted houses, but I am not really sure I would like to "see" anything like that. I am pretty sure I´d leave the house running like Kermit the frog... However, I do think you were really privileged to feel a bit of the other side, guys :)

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    1. I never got to see the small, dark-haired woman, Violette - I think, like you, I would have run from the house screaming! Perhaps she “knew” that, and that was why she never appeared to me.

      Romania is looking wonderful in the autumn, Violette - I so envy your adventure! :o)

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  7. Lawd! Such a mammoth undertaking. And here I was thinking your house in the woods was an ambitious project. You and your husband are amazing!

    I must admit, I feel a little heartsick reading about all the vandalism. People can be so awful. Such pointless destruction. :(

    Okay, I know I'm a terrible Addams bore, but this whole story is making me think of the Addams family episode, 'Progress and the Addams Family', where the city commissioner condemns the Addams house for demolition in order to build a new highway, so the Addamses decide to move their beautiful home across town. Of course, the Addamses stay inside the house whilst it's being moved. I wish I could attach the screenshot I'm referring to in this comment because I'm imagining you and your husband strapped in like Morticia and Gomez for the ride, you in a tentacled black dress and your husband in driving cap and googles. ;D

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    1. Awww thanks, Little Gothic Horrors ... we've never really thought of ourselves as being amazing though! A little odd maybe ... ;D

      I know what you mean. It's just so inexplicable to me, too.

      I don't think you're an Addams bore! And I went and watched the episode on YouTube - it was cute! It's been ages since I've watched the show, and I'd forgotten how adorable Morticia and Gomez are. I WISH we'd had a pair of goggles for the spouse and a tentacled black dress for me. Can you imagine the looks of horror on the neighbour's faces then! That thought makes me laugh ...

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    2. Oh, I'm glad you got to see the Addams Family episode! :D I completely forgot to mention the ghostie in my comment before. At the risk of always connecting things to TV shows -- I have a tendency to do that. ;) -- the lock of hair reminded me of 'Supernatural'. In that show, they often refer to objects like locks of hair anchoring spirits to certain locations. Did the ghost disappear once the hair was disposed of?

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    3. I really can't remember the last time I watched the Addams Family, Emma - it may have been back when it first came out! But I did remember that episode (and yet I still can't remember what I did yesterday - how does THAT work?) :P

      I asked the spouse whether he saw the ghost after he disposed of the hair - he said he thinks he still saw her afterwards. But hey, it was 26 years ago ... who can say for sure! ;o)

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  8. You are amazing! First this enormous project, and now the gothic cottage.
    Owning a house is a process that never stops, you never get finished. I do hope thought that you don't have much carpenting to do when you are finished with the cottage.

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    1. Oh it's so true, linnea-maria. As we're getting ready to leave the Gothic Mansion, I'm thinking of all the things I wish we would have done! Still, if we waited until absolutely everything was finished, we probably never would have left. ;o)

      We're hoping we can afford to pay somebody else to do most of the carpentry. But as you know, these projects always end up costing more than anticipated and we may just have to do it ourselves. I don't mind the staining and varnishing, but we really don't want to have to put up all the trim again! :P

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    2. Yeah, the trim....Those things left to the last moment, and forgotten. It's like a proverb here; everyone who renovates says it's always one piece of trim missing in every room, you will never be finished.
      In our kitchen the trim by the fridge is missing. In Oskars room all his floor trimmings are missing :P

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    3. It's funny how something that isn't completed properly can bother you for a little while, and then eventually it just becomes part of the way the house is and you don't even notice it anymore. I don't think it's a bad thing though - there's a little story behind all of it! Besides, there'll be time enough to add those pieces of trim when you decide to sell. ;o)

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  9. Wow. Just Wow. I mean, I've done some crazy things with houses but I never considered that moving house would mean moving the actual house. I am in awe. Real, jaw-dropping awe at your hard work and commitment. As for the hair, the blouse and the little lady, moving house (even the conventional way) does seem to stir up some activity. I wonder if she'll travel with you? Thank you for visiting my blog :)

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    1. Ooooh, what crazy things with houses have you done, Rhissanna? Spill! Inquiring minds need to know!

      That was a long time ago and we had a fair amount of energy back then. Not so much these days, I'm afraid. That's why we're hoping the money holds out long enough to pay somebody else to do all the hard work! LOL

      She never travelled with us to the new site. I wonder if that's the way of all ghosts ... they just stay where they are, even if the house is no longer there? She'd be under a busy road now, I guess. Probably not that much fun to haunt a freeway ... ;o)

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    2. A long time ago in a country far, far away (the UK, to be exact) I had a whole other life/marriage, and in that other life there was a lot of house buying of cheap, nasty, smelly, cold houses with holes in the floor and dangerous wiring and dysfunctional bathrooms.I love old houses, I miss them here in the US, but I also like safe electricity and warm showers. I'd assist in the doing up of said houses, with five offspring underfoot, and when it was all done and nice and home-like, we'd move again. After a while, that got to my energy, too.

      I now live in a nice house Hubby and his Dad built, which really feels like home. And to make it feel old, I keep Hubby in a study made as Victorian as I can on no money, a project that got its own steampunk blog. Thank you for visiting!

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    3. Okay, the cold part with holes in the floor and dangerous wiring would turn me right off. Dysfunctional bathrooms we've done - but the second we made money with one of the movies, we fixed that! ;o)

      OMG, FIVE offspring! How could you even function, Rhissanna? I can't imagine trying to renovate to that extent with FIVE - I bloody guess it sapped your energy. And then, just when you've finally got it looking nice, you have to move. It doesn't sound like a good time to me, either.

      I'm glad you finally found a place to put down roots ... and I think you've done a wonderful job with the Victorian Steampunk Study. I've always preferred decorating that's done with the heart as opposed to the pocketbook anyway. It has more soul. :o)

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  10. Oh boy!! And I thought that the restoration of the Hall I work at on Thursday`s was a big job. I can`t wait for the next part.

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    1. Thanks, Alastair - I'm glad you're enjoying it. Kinda under the gun to get these posts finished quickly! :O

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  11. What an incredible amount of work you both put into moving the house! You must have really loved it to do so much work on it. And a ghost to boot! It makes me wonder where she might be now. Maybe she returned to thank you for saving the house she had once lived in.

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    1. We did/do love it, Nightwind! I'm sort of sad I never got to see the ghost - on the other hand, I'm sort of glad! I wonder where she is now, too. We always felt that once she was sure the house was going to be okay, she moved on. She didn't relocate with us. :o)

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  12. This story deserves Discovery channel :) So interesting to see all the moving, and activities which have to be done for the same. Waiting for the next part!

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    1. Haha, Discovery Channel - wouldn't that be something! Next part coming right up, Hindustanka! :o)

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  13. Wow! What an amazing task! It's such a shame you had to endure vandalism to your lovely house.

    I've never seen a ghost, but I love Nightwind's theory of her returning to her home to thank you.

    I hope everything's going to plan.

    I can't wait for your next installment.

    Good luck x

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    1. It was a crazy time - and it was  a shame to have the house vandalized. No respect for old things - and now I can really relate to that statement!

      I like Nightwind's theory too, Winter Moon - and I believe it's probably true. :o)

      Everything is going as well as can be expected - does anything ever really go according to our best laid plans? LOL

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  14. I so enjoy reading about all the little things that happened to you during this adventure; the person dwelling under the veranda, the stupid vandalism, the ghost (!). What stories a house carries (in your case quite literally too:))

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    1. I'm glad you're enjoying it, Ms. Misantropia! Really, what they say about old houses - if only the walls could speak - is so very true, isn't it? :o)

      P.S. I can't find that latest book you wrote about on Amazon - I have to investigate further when I have more time, because it sounds like a good one!

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