I will be primarily talking about tea, and baking, and hospitality on this blog, but since my family has spent the past year largely focused on rehabbing our 101-year-old tea room, I thought I’d share a little bit of before, during and after. It’ll take several posts, I’m sure, but here’s Part 1:
We closed on the future tea room on September 13, 2017. We knew when we made an offer on the house that the exterior was going to need a lot of work. In fact, I think that is why it was on the market long enough for us to buy it. The structure of the house itself was sound, but there were several things that needed repaired and replaced.
The most pressing thing was the roof. We knew there was a leak, a low spot in the roof that was concerning, and that the shingles were shot.
The white paint was flaking off the stucco. I’m guessing the paint was the cheapest available, and not formulated for adhering to stucco. Even after power washing to remove everything that was loose, it continues to flake off. I imagine it’s going to take several years of touching up every Spring before the peeling stops.
The front porch had been enclosed at some point (I’m pretty confident it had been an open porch originally) and the aluminum windows were falling apart. The floor and the half walls were rotten in places too. We didn’t know if the porch pillars were solid or not, but we were expecting the worst.
The windows on the house were all original, but the glazing was crumbling on all of them. One window and part of the wall around it was rotten, due to years of rain running down a telephone line and onto the wall.
The only place the house had gutters was on the back and small side porch, and that meant there was water in the basement a good bit of the time.
The small side porch was so small, I nearly fell off it several times while trying to close the door behind me.
There was a giant black walnut tree growing between the house and garage, threatening both the power lines and the garage roof, and it dropped ankle-rolling Spheres of Doom all over the yard. It had two friends on the opposite side of the house. If you didn’t know, black walnut trees release a compound called juglone into the soil, which stunts or kills other plants that try to grow near them. This is a problem if one wants to grow things other than walnut trees in the yard.
I was already doubting that the walnut trees should stay. We knew it would be expensive to get them cut down, and we weren’t sure how hard it would be to find someone reputable to do the work. After I rolled my ankle on a walnut in the driveway (it took months for it to fully heal) the fate of the walnut trees was sealed. I could just imagine if it had happened to an elderly person instead of me. Black walnut makes the most beautiful furniture!
In addition to the treacherous walnut trees on either side, there were also three large, stinky (if I may be crass, they smell like cat urine), scraggly cedar trees hiding the front of the house.
I’m sure a few of you are thinking we were totally insane to buy this house. I will admit, it was difficult to get John to go look at it. We had driven by once, seen the state of the porch, and concluded it was a major project. But afterwards, we looked at several old storefronts on the town square. This little house looked like a piece of cake in comparison. When we actually looked at it with a realtor, we instantly knew this was the one.
Here’s Part 2!