Saturday, August 23, 2008

Our Sister House

A few weeks ago, I found myself down in LaPorte City for work. We were driving around town looking for a new listing we were going to tour, when I suddenly saw it... Our house! Except it was white and just a little different architecturally. I made a note of the address and was excited by the idea of looking it up later!

I actually kind of forgot about it until last week when I was looking up information for application to be on the National Register of Historic Places (a future goal, perhaps). I spent a little time checking out the properties listed in Black Hawk County, and was a surprised to see our "sister" house on the Register. It's known as the Gingrich House and was designed by local architect John G. Ralston and built in 1916. Other locally significant structures designed by Mr. Ralston and also on the Register include: The Black Hawk Hotel (the major renovations in the early 1900's), Black Hawk Co. Soldier's Memorial Hall in downtown Waterloo, the Emerson School in Waterloo, the Whittier School just a block from our house, and both the East and West Branch of the Waterloo Public Library. Right now, I have no idea if he was the designer of our house as well, but it seems that it's at least a possibility!

Today Chris and I decided to take a little trip down to LaPorte City and see if the owners would let us take a few pictures of the house so we could better compare it to ours. I can only imagine how strange she must have thought we were... :) We talked for a little bit and I explained that I had driven by the house and thought it was eerily similar to ours. We described ours a little, pointed out some of the differences, and invited them to stop by sometime when they are in town. She kindly agreed to let us take some pictures outside, and while we were walking around the house, she came back out and invited us to come in and see the main floor. The houses are laid out differently inside, the main factor being our stairs are right in the middle of the house, and theirs are on the side. Without the stairs in the middle, their living room and dining room are HUGE!! The woodwork is a different style, but there's probably just as much of it. They have only lived there for a few months, but I'm sure they too will enjoy their beautiful home (and all the work that comes with it, hahaha) for years to come.

Friday, August 8, 2008

No more carpet!

The only carpet in our house was this plush (well, 25 years ago it was...) dark green stuff in the living room. We wanted to take it out when we moved in, but were convinced by my parents to wait until spring when we could open the windows because it would probably be a very dusty job.

Spring arrived with warmer weather, and with it came a new attitude for the cat... She got quite crabby and was constantly scratching at her head and neck. One day she was drinking out of the sink in front of me as I got ready, and I noticed a little dark speck on my chest. What is that?? A flea?? It didn't click for me until that moment, but the previous owner had indoor/outdoor pets, and that nasty green carpet was infested with FLEAS- UGH! Chris had to work that night, so when JR got home I told him the carpet had to go NOW and we got to work.

Pulling up the carpet itself was pretty easy, but the old padding underneath was gross. You could definitely tell where previous owners had their furniture because the carpet and pad looked brand new along the walls. In the middle of the room (the walking path), it was decomposing, stained and stuck to the floor. Of course this job could not be as simple as just pulling up the carpet and pad... Under that was a 50ish year-old linoleum tile stuck to a layer of sub-floor. Thankfully someone was smart enough to lay a sub-floor on top of the oak floor rather than gluing directly to it!

So the next challenge... how do we go about getting this stuff up? We started hacking at the sub-floor with handy-bars and whatever else we could find and did get a little piece of it pried up after about a half hour! We quickly learned that JR's gnarly dented and scratched tools weren't going to work unless we wanted to scratch the entire floor as we went- whoops! After a quick trip to Menards to get some new, smooth tools that wouldn't scratch, we went to town on the floor. As with many tasks, the hard part was getting started! Once we got a system down, we could pry up a whole sheet of sub-floor at a time and it went fairly quickly. Chris was pretty impressed when he got home at 11 and the carpet was all gone along with half of the sub-floor. JR finished up another night, and we are left with a fairly decent floor. It's got some scratches and is worn pretty well, so eventually it will have to be refinished, but that's another project for another day :)