Holiday House Tour- The Front Hall

As you entered the front hall, my friend Judy had made a beautiful arrangement out of rhododendron,magnolia leaves, white pine, flowering kale , and some other mixed greens  that she used for layering and texture.

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On the other side of the front hall, we had Bill’s grandmother’s creche.She had apparently made all of the pieces at a pottery class in Pennsylvania in 1963 and painted them herself as well!

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As you left the front hall,you went into the library to the left. In this room, we had a small tree with little Swiss cowbells. We lived in Zurich for 3 years and when I first got there, my new friend Joan told me to collect the bells at kiosks in every village as I travelled around with our family. “Then” she said, “you will have a second Christmas tree when you move back home- dedicated to your years in Switzerland”. I thought this was a great idea!

In addition,just as we were leaving to return to the US, my friend Sandy found a shop that sold real Swiss cowbells with a brass plaque on which they would inscribe your family name and the years you lived in Switzerland. This bell was at the base of the tree.

Bill’s trains from his childhood circled the tree but unfortunately we could not get them to go-he has ordered the missing part!

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Quacking Up in Pittsburgh!

A great thing to do if in Pittsburgh. Operational after the Duck Boat Tours in Boston were so popular,Pittsburgh has had much success with this tour as well.

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On the tour, they first talk about the skyline of Pittsburgh. It is  the second-largest city in  Pennsylvania, and is home to 135 completed high rises, 29 of which stand at least 300 feet tall. The tallest building in Pittsburgh is the 64 story US Steel Building, which rises 841 feet and was completed in 1970. The second-tallest skyscraper in the city is BNY Mellon Center.

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One of the things they also talk about is about the flood of March 17 and 18, 1936. The city witnessed the worst flood in its history when flood levels peaked at 46 feet. This flood became known as the Great St.Patricks Day Flood.

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Pittsburgh is also a city of many different styles of architecture. There are many beautiful old churches and office buildings and then many new “shiny” buildings. The cluster known as PPG Place is a complex   consisting of six buildings(and are the shiniest!) within three city blocks and five and a half acres. Named for its anchor tenant, PPG Industries, who initiated the project for its headquarters, the buildings are all of matching glass design consisting of 19,750 pieces of glass. The complex centers on One PPG Place, a 40-story office building. Groundbreaking ceremonies occurred on January 28, 1981. The complex buildings opened between 1983 and 1984. Total cost of construction was $200 million ($488.8 million today). The buildings were sold by The Hillman Company to Highwoods Properties in 2011.

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Once you have driven through the city quaking all the way, you dip into the  Monongahela River for a tour from the water. You first see the second of two “inclines”.The Monongahela Incline, built by John Endres in 1870, is located near the Smithfield Street Bridge. It is the oldest continuously operating funicular in the US. It is also one of two surviving inclines from the original 17 passenger-carrying inclines built in Pittsburgh starting in the late 19th century. 

Pittsburgh’s expanding industrial base in 1860 created a huge demand for labor, attracting mainly German immigrants to the region. This created a serious housing shortage as industry occupied most of the flat lands adjacent to the river, leaving only the steep, surrounding hillsides of Mt. Washington or “Coal Hill” for housing. However, travel between the “hill” and other areas was hindered by a lack of good roads or public transport.The predominantly German immigrants who settled on Mt. Washington, remembering the cable cars  of their former country, proposed the construction of inclines along the face of Coal Hill. The result was the Monongahela Incline, which opened May 28, 1870.Earlier inclines were used to transport coal in the Pittsburgh area.

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You next paddle by the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the University of Pittsburgh Panthers which is called Heinz Field ,and then by the beautiful Point State Park which was filled with strolling couples with small children.

 

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There are also many other ways to see Pittsburgh. Another popular one is to take an evening dinner cruise  on the Gateway River Fleet.

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Near the end of the tour the guides play a little game with you. They ask “how many bridges are there in Pitttsburgh?” Of course the answer is one that no one could even imagine….without bridges, the Pittsburgh region would be a series of fragmented valleys, hillsides, river plains, and isolated communities. A 2006 study determined that Pittsburgh has 446 bridges, and with its proximity to three major rivers and countless hills and ravines, Pittsburgh is known as “The City of Bridges”.

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Woodstone Barn Update

 

 

 

 

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The old boards, made of wooden sheathing, look pretty crazy from the exterior but the interior is really starting to take shape.The timbers are walnut,chestnut and oak and it is all starting to look like an old barn-which of course, it is!

The guys have been working incredibly hard despite the several feet of snow and very cold temperatures. Soon the boards will be covered in insulation(SIPS-Structural Insulated Panel Systems) on the exterior, and then a final wall will go up with shingles.

Progress at Woodstone

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The red cedar roof (we looked at both red cedar and Alaskan yellow cedar but decided the red cedar was better with the colors we have picked for the house)is going on so we are good to work inside all winter…. but most interesting has been watching the 200 year old barn from Pennsylvania start going up.The Colonial Barn Restoration company worked for weeks piecing the bents together and then last Sunday they started putting them up.

The bent is the unit of barn timbers running from front to back. If a barn has four bents, it has three bays. Barns were easily enlarged by adding more bents on either end to lengthen the barn.

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Moving Fast!

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People kept telling me that when the framers arrive it all starts going quickly and that has definitely been true the last two days.  What was also a lot of fun was that the barn from Pennsylvania arrived today as well. In the next week or two they will be putting it back together,piece by piece. As Ian(the barn guy) told me,it is like building a piece of Ikea furniture-just a lot bigger!

Construction Begins At Woodstone

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Using a backhoe and a bulldozer, the crew clears the site of rocks, debris and trees for the house and the septic system. The crew levels the site, puts up wooden forms to serve as a template for the foundation, and digs the holes and trenches. Footings (structures where the house interfaces with the earth that supports it) are installed.

The hole is dug for the full basement, the footings are formed and poured, and the foundation walls are formed and poured. The area between them is leveled and fitted with utility runs (e.g. plumbing drains and electrical chases).

After the concrete is cured, the crew applies a waterproofing membrane to the foundation walls; installs drains, sewer and water taps and any plumbing that needs to go into the basement floor; and backfills excavated dirt into the hole around the foundation wall.

This next week will be exciting as the lumber is being delivered and the walls will start going up. The barn foundation is also being poured this week and the old barn form from Pennsylvania will arrive early next week.

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The next piece was figuring out how and where to get an older barn and be able to relocate it to our property. Quite by chance we located a company that does exactly that. Colonial Barn Restoration-check out their website,it is amazing what they can do to a barn!They have located a barn for us from Pennsylvania-3 miles from where my husband grew up,so it is very special.

Here is an excerpt  from their website describing what they do:

As the price of land rises, people in this area subdivide their land into smaller and smaller lots. We have been involved with a number of projects where an antique barn was located on a subdivided lot. The owners wanted to keep the barn with the original house on the property so we moved the barn over on the same property. Since then we have learned the ins and outs of moving buildings and have moved several. Moving buildings in one piece is very economical. The state of Massachusetts even takes down power lines for free to help facilitate the move.Often times our clients want to move a barn frame a long distance or there are too many trees in the way to move it to its new location in one piece. We have lots of experience taking apart and reassembling barns in new locations.When we take a barn completely apart we have a chance to inspect every structural element and make any needed repairs. We can also make slight changes to the frame to satisfy building code restraints or change the layout slightly for modern uses. We have a design and engineering team to help make these changes.We often use reclaimed lumber for repairs so that they are not as apparent.