Open Door

Open Door
Indianapolis, Indiana

Friday, March 30, 2012

Back to the Fireplaces Part 2

This time, we’ll tour the ground floor fireplaces. There is a lot more junk here so the pictures won’t be quite as explicit. For the ones that are mostly blocked by stuff stacked in front of them, we are intentionally leaving them that way. It makes it harder for anything to be stolen and will protect them from the construction process.

The fireplace in the parlor (front room) looks pretty stripped. While we can see that there was a fireplace there, we don’t know what, if anything, is left. The mantel is gone and I don’t see any tiles on the front. It might be that there are tiles there that are different than the wonderful green tiles upstairs. We’re holding our breath and praying that there is something spectacular buried here. Due to the condition of the floor in this room, we’ll need to wait until it’s safe to do further excavation. Hopefully, it will be awesome. After all, it is the parlor of an elegant old house.

To the west of the parlor is the dining room. The dining room fireplace makes us want to cry. The mantel was intact until the last break-in. While trying to pry apart the metal surround, the intruders damaged the surround. We’re hoping the mantel and surround can be repaired. The tiles on this fireplace appear to be different than the green ones upstairs. Eric thinks they could be Art Deco.  Again, the floor is questionable, so we’ll have to post later when we get more detailed pictures.

And finally, there’s the music room. This is the room with the bay window who’s fireplace will get the new surround. Again, this fireplace is hidden behind a lot of junk. It almost looks like someone covered the old fireplace and installed a wood burning stove due to the hole in the chimney. But we have no doubt that it will look spectacular when it is restored with the new mantel.

So that’s our “fireplace tour”. The fireplaces appear to have been impacted less than any other aspect of the house. Ceilings, walls, floors, lighting, doors and moldings are all in pretty awful condition. At least we have the fireplaces and staircase are pretty spectacular indications of what this house originally was.  

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Back to the Fireplaces Part 1

There are a total of 5 fireplaces in the Horner House. Eric took some pictures so I can give you all a “fireplace tour”.

We’re going to start in the upstairs front bedroom. The fireplace is on the south side of the room, across from the door. There are no windows on the south wall of this room, only on the east wall. While the mantel has been stripped from this one, the front tiles appear to be in excellent condition. The floor tiles are still covered by what is left of the ceiling. The debris will need to be removed carefully to keep from scratching or furthering damage on the tiles. And luckily, the metal surround has not been damaged or stolen.

Next is the back bedroom. This room currently has a connecting doorway to the front bedroom through the east wall. There are 2 large windows on the south wall and the fireplace is on west wall. This fireplace has it’s mantel and metal surround. Again, the tiles on the front are in excellent condition. Enough of the debris has been removed from this room to see some of the floor tiles. Although covered with plaster & dust, they actually appear to be in good condition. The inside looks pretty clean, which makes me wonder how much this one has been used in the past.

The last room on the 2nd floor is called the library. Here are 2 pictures of the wall & floor where the chimney comes up from the first floor. It doesn’t look like there was ever a fireplace in this room.

Or perhaps, it was removed so long ago that no traces remain. It will be interesting, as we continue working on the house, to see if there is any hidden evidence of an old fireplace. I think there likely was one but Amanda & Eric don’t think so. Wonder if we’ll ever be able to tell who is right?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Last Year’s Shopping Trip

Last summer, while Amanda & Eric were impatiently awaiting word on a date for the closing, they made several antiquing day trips. They wanted to see if they could find anything for the Horner House that they couldn’t live without. While they found many interesting pieces, there was one special piece that they decided they had to purchase. Unfortunately, there wasn’t room in the car to bring it home with them. They went back to pick it up last weekend.

This piece is a perfect fit for “the Music Room”, the first floor room with the bay window. Although they haven’t yet dug through all of the junk to expose the west wall of the room, they are sure there has been a fireplace there at one time. And they are sure by the positioning of the junk that there is no surround for that fireplace.

West Wall of the Music Room 
(shows what can be seen of the brick chimney, above the junk)

In a small shop in Hope, Indiana, they found a wonderful old fireplace surround that they imagine will be perfect in the future Music Room.

New Surround

The corbels are similar to those on the exterior of the house. And the beaded detail on this new surround is similar to that on the bottom of staircase. It seems to be a perfect fit for the Horner House, including its similar condition. They will need to restore the surround before installing it. At this time they plan to strip and repaint it white to match the woodwork.

Surround detail

Stairway detail

So we now have 2 surrounds for 5 fireplaces. We’ll be making more trips before the house is finished. But more on the fireplaces later.

If anyone else has a “need” for antiques, we recommend the drive to Hope, IN. Thanks to Tracy Fugate of Strawberry Fields Mercantile for finding and storing the surround for us. Her shop is open 11-5 and closed on Sundays. She also has a Tea Room from 11-2 except Sundays. Happy antiquing!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Another Break-In

At 4AM on Wednesday morning, the Meyer Alarm Company notified Amanda & Eric that Toad Hall had been broken into – again. It is so sad that people continue to treat this great old lady with such disrespect.

It appeared that the intruder came in through the transom over the front door. The police responded to the alarm, however, the intruder was not apprehended.

Once again, they were trying to remove a small amount of metal that they could sell for salvage. In the process, they damaged the wonderful old slate fireplace surround in the dining room. This fireplace is different than all the other fireplaces. Hopefully, there was no permanent damage and we’ll be able to restore it. We’ll have a couple more blogs next week on all the fireplaces & their surrounds.

New Damage is on the Left Side

The transom has now been secured and we’ll be working on some of the remaining openings soon. While this warm winter has been great for the business but I guess it leads to vandalism. We’re all optimistic that the alarm and other measures that we’ve been taking will discourage those who have no appreciation for this old gem.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Indiana Landmarks Open House

Indiana Landmarks has restored a lovely old Victorian on East 10th Street. The work, inside and out, was completed by W C ZELLER RENOVATIONS, LLC who have also been working on the Horner House. The price is just $134,000. They are having an open house this Thursday from 4:30 - 6:30 pm.  Anyone interested in purchasing a wonderful old house that has already been restored?



Amanda & I are looking forward to attending. See you there!

Open House Flyer

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Fireplace Tiles

With some better weather and a lull in our “normal” drama, we’re beginning to work on the bungalow. So much to do so little time but we need to get moved and begin working on the Horner House again. In the meantime, we’ve been doing a little research on some of the more historic interior aspects.

We’ve mentioned the many fireplaces at the Horner House several times. The fireplaces appear to have been coal burning rather than wood burning due to the small fireboxes and the metal surround. All of them except for in the dining room have the same type of tile on the surround and on the hearth. This tile is very similar to the fireplace tile in the early 1900’s house my parents lived in for years.

To date, everyone has made the assumption that this tile is not original to the house and was likely installed after 1900. I have looked at hundreds of websites for information on the tile without success. To date, we have not been able to find any books or reference material on how to date old tile. I thought maybe some of you might have some ideas on where we could find  some concrete information on dating the tile.

Here’s what it looks like, a combination of green, tan & brown oblong glazed tile.

Does anyone know of a resource, a book, an expert, a website,  or anywhere else we might be able to find more information?

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Attic

As a child in the 60’s, I had the opportunity to help a neighbor clean out her attic. It held 40 to 50 years worth of odds & ends, including old crumbling newspapers. We were fascinated with everything we found even though there was nothing of real value. Ever since, one of my fantasies is to buy an old house with an attic stuffed full of interesting old bits and pieces. I can envision the hours of fun sorting through the hodge-podge of items looking for interesting pictures and tidbits. The first 2 floors of Toad Hall held the promise that it could be the attic of my dreams.

I was really excited the day that Amanda & Eric met with Bob to explore the condition of the attic. Amanda had explicit instructions to call me as soon as they knew what was up there. After her call, I must admit to being a bit disappointed at what they found but at least the condition in the attic was much better than expected.

The attic is entered using a ladder to climb through an access hole ceiling of the 2nd floor hallway. The attic held a number of surprises. The first being damage from an old fire that was very evident. We had read about a fire in the 1932 Indianapolis Star article but hadn’t seen any evidence of it on the other 2 floors.

Charring is evident on the front wall and the beams. At the top left you can see the area where the char has been removed.

The attic is mostly one large room with some added bracing for the roof. It has never had any finishing work done to add living space up there. There wasn’t really much in the way of “finds” in the attic as shown in the picture below.

Note the ladder to the left protruding up through the access door.

The roof beams are approximately 7 ½ feet high, giving lots of room for finishing in the future. Bob is approximately 6 feet tall. In the picture below, at first glance it appears that Bob is barely clearing the beams. This is an optical illusion; there is plenty of head room up there. Sitting just in front of Bob is our one true treasure found in the attic. It is a fully intact corbel from the exterior of the house. There are several of them up there and we believe these are the originals.

Corbel just off of Bob’s foot.

There is also a somewhat separate tower room as seen in the picture below.

And looking upward in the tower room, you can see where the 4th floor was located prior to its removal.

So although there wasn’t a treasure trove hidden away in the attic, it’s in fairly good shape. The roof is only leaking in a couple of places. And it isn’t filled with bats or rodents which, come to think of it, is rather surprising, given the condition of the rest of the house.

Oh, well. I guess I can always hope to find some amazing, salvageable items in the West Wing when we start digging out the cellar. Now to sort out all the items in the first 2 floors….