Conley House Restoration 2000

Here are a few photos of my house, taken during 2000, to show the progress in rehabilitating the structure after our January 7, 1998 fire.  Work didn't start until the late summer of 1999, and my contractor Rick Stein worked on another project during all of January, 2000 and part of February. These interior pictures are not as exciting as the exteriors.

The first batch was taken in February, as wallpaper was stripped and plaster was repaired:

The stairway without its dingy paper, and with the medallion totally cleaned.

This is the front room.  You can see all the cracks in the plaster which have been taped with a nylon tape and skim coated with new plaster or joint compound.

  You can see the mantel looking better.

The parlor plaster is getting repaired, and the old baseboards, which had been cut in several places, has been removed for replacement.

These were taken in March and April--you can see the difference

The walls have been renewed--this is just before they started work on the floors and emptied out the room.

  These two photos are of Eddie Nelson's repainting of the mirrored fireplace screen in the parlor--they will still have to do more repainting of the part marble, part metal fireplace.

More work from April:

  Rick edged the wood floors with a small sander before he started using the floor unit.  He had a small floor sander when he started upstairs but a painted floor in the upstairs kitchen gummed up its pads in no time.

Tearing out the chimney in the hallway, next to my new office. This area had been closed in by one of the previous owners and used as a closet, and we had our washer and dryer next to it. With modern energy efficient furnaces you don't need a heavy chimney. Unfortunately, very few of these bricks were usable by the time Rick got them knocked out.

The hallway without the chimney.  You can see all the extra space for file cabinets or other equipment. there will be a skylight at the place the chimney cut through the roof.

This is the same area as in the last picture but with a new floor. Rick took  pieces of wood he salvaged and matched them to new materials to get a uniform appearance once sanded.

A good view of the kitchen floor, which has been a real problem.  I wonder if some of the linoleum or glue didn't melt into the old pine floorboards.  You can see the bare floor on the right, the vinyl on the left, and the mess in between. Rick thinks the wood floor had been replaced in 1913, since the bottoms of our floor to ceiling cabinets are different than the rest of the kitchen.

The upstairs sitting room is ready for floor varnish and baseboard repairs. This is one of the few areas of the house with painted woodwork.

  An unfortunate detour, Rick discovered that the roof above the chimney, which was a small section of the family room roof remaining after the room was replaced, contained seven layers of wet roofing.  Only the original metal roof was preventing serious damage. A necessary extra.

Rick borrowed a backhoe to level out the backyard, remove some bushes, and dig the trench for the new sewer and electric service.  A new garage is a long-term project.

One of our supervisors. He has his own entrance by the cat room, with access to the private areas of the house.

These were taken in May. The hallway doors cleaned up nicely. Rick doesn't think the doors were installed in the original construction, and he wonders if they might have been salvaged from the 1828 White County courthouse, which was raised in 1883. They look similar to photos he has seen of the old building, and are totally unlike any other door in the house.

This room was originally called the music room, and will serve as my office.  The floor had a very dark stain on it, and Rick and Eddie bleached it after sanding and chemically stripping to get a more compatible appearance.

A shot of the upstairs hallway, where the edge of the oak floor installed in the 1970s used to butt against the stair rail. Rick removed a strip of flooring and added a rounded piece of molding.

The back of the hallway awaiting drywall.

The artist using sandpaper and a chisel to clean a corner.

June and July were dedicated to finishing the floors This is the upstairs sitting room that had oak floors added in the 1970s.
The stairs look a bit better with varnish.

This plank type floor is in the original parlor, which we used as a bedroom and will eventually become a workroom and guest bedroom.  I prefer the hardwood floors, but visitors like these original poplar or oak floors.

Miner's Furniture in Carmi went out of business this spring, and had an auction of their remaining inventory July 1st. I got a great deal on this Howard Miller clock, which will eventually go downstairs. The electrical cord is for the light located behind the face. Now that the floors are getting done and the walls are ready for paper, we are working on the remaining bedroom, which has been used for storage for several months. Rick still has to finish the water/sewer/electrical lines: The last time he rented/borrowed a backhoe he repaired three flat tires which left no time to work on my house.

Later in July I attended the estate auction of Vivian Day of Carmi and purchased a rocker, curio cabinet and this heavily carved buffet/mirrored breakfront, which will go in the dining/conference room. I knew Vivian from BPW and her family had been in Carmi for generations.

Eddie Nelson, a master painter, has been putting his talents to refinishing the roll top and office desks, as well as the top surface of the buffet.

Finally, near the end of July, Fannie Jordan, Carmi's best wallpaperer, started on my house. This is the upstairs sitting room, the only area with a chair rail and split paper. There is a pretty border on top as well. My next photos will be of the paper in the reception room and parlor.

These photos were taken in late September 2000. This is the breakfront in the dining room with the wallpaper on it. The wallpaper didn't come out the right color, and why didn't I move the vac out of the way?

Another delay.  This is the parlor wallpaper, coming down. It has writing on it with a noticeable skip near the left edge. Fannie matched half with the upper and half with the lower line of writing.  I spent a whole weekend getting off one full wall and two partial walls. Eddie ended up skim coating it again, and Fannie has put more R-35 on awaiting the replacement paper. Blonder Wallcoverings, which distributes the York wallpaper used throughout the house was very fair with me, refunding my money and offering a replacement shipment of the same paper at no charge, or a different pattern at a 25% discount. Rick looked at the replacement and was not satisfied, so I chose a "cabbage rose" pattern with a wine background.

I took this picture to show the conversion of my antque double bed into a queen-size. There is a center support on the frame and four brackets which extend beyond the frame and hold the mattress in place. The floor in this room was lightly hand-sanded and varnished, but did not need the intense sanding of the rest of the house.

Rick bought this curio cabinet a year ago but I never saw it unitl he brought it to the house after the hallway was papered. I have been collecting ruby glass to carry a decorating theme through the house, and always have a lot of cat collectibles.

A pretty good  shot of the front hall paper--tiny roses on a cream background, the etched-glass transom over the front door, and the red quilted glass lamp hanging from the original medallion. I paid too much for the top of the lamp at an antique store in Fairfield, but Rick found the matching base and hanging hardware at a mostly-closed store in Albion.

Now we are getting around Thanksgiving, when my father-in-law always comes to visit. This is the new wallpaper in the parlor with a small mahogany bed and an old set of bedding. I am going to use the room for work and as a spare bedroom. Most of the time this bed is supposed to look like a daybed or couch.

This shows my bedroom almost finished. Dad slept in here for three nights at Thanksgiving and marveled at the wonderful condition of the wallpaper and ceiling.

This is going to be my upstairs kitchen/dining table, now that Rick and Eddie have refinished it. The table had been in the library downstairs, and we had only rubbed on some stain and tung oil, never giving it a good shiny finish. It looks great now.

Another repair project is my grandmother Savage's pie safe, which I had painted yellow in the 1970's. After the fire I had the piece dipped and  stripped, which also removed much of the glue and warped some of the boards. I did some hand sanding, and turned it over to the wood doctors to glue and finish it. One of the doors is to the left, and the bottom was totally replaced.

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Last updated 10/6/2000. Please send corrections and comments to All images of my house are owned by me and should not be used without my permission. Thanks for visiting.