After last winter, the entire West Wing of the Horner House became very unstable. During one of the ice storms, the area between the 2 back doors collapsed. The interior ground floor fell into the cellar and then the 2nd floor followed it. This left the roof without support and it, too, became unstable. As we waited for the closing on the house during the spring & summer, we've watched the structure slowly become more and more unstable. We knew we were going to have to work quickly after the closing if we were going to be able to save anything of the West Wing.
Back of West Wing, March 2011. The upper windows are still pretty much straight and the middle of the roof hasn't begun to sag.
We began working with Bob Ladisich of Design Services before we even closed on the house. Bob is the structural engineer who evaluated the stability of the house for us prior to purchase. He let us know we would need to move quickly on the West Wing in order to save it. As soon as we closed, Bob began working on the plans for the West Wing stabalization.
We needed to do an elevation survey in order for Bob to finish his plans. When we tried to remove the ivy that had covered the West Wing, Eric broke his ankle and the process got stalled. Once Eric was on the mend, Amanda & Ron finished the field work & Eric completed the drawings for the elevation survey.
In the meantime, we had began working with Bill Zeller of W. C. Zeller Renovations, LLC. http://www.wczellerrenovations.com/. Bill is a contractor with experience in working with historic houses. Bob and Bill have been working together over the past several weeks trying to pull off a miracle. Unfortunately, the mansard roof over the West Wing, especially over the rear wall, has continued to deteriorate rather rapidly. We've been approaching a milestone - either finish stabilizing the West Wing or participate in controlled demolition.
The windows have begun to rotate as the roof between them has began to collapse inward. Without a miracle, we will be doing controlled demolition rather than stabilization of this wing of the house.
If anyone can save this wing of the house, we have full confidence that Bob & Bill can do it. They have made no guarentees, however, it's obvious they are doing their best to save what they can. Tomorrow, they will be putting in the beam to stabilize the area below the windows. We're hoping they can finish the stabilization next week since it's critical to be finished prior to the first snow fall. Amanda & Eric will be doing some more technical blogs on exactly what the plan is and how it is being executed for those of you who are interested. In the meantime, say a prayer that our experts can pull off this miracle for us.