Posted on 13 February 2014
Unless something goes terribly wrong,* carpentry is not usually not about adrenaline rush. Firefighters burst into burning buildings to save puppies, while we shave another few thousands off a piece of crown miolding to make a perfectly coped joint. Slow and steady tends to suit my constitution, but a bit of urgency now and then can be nice, too. So I was excited to get the call from Lex, a repeat client of ours: ”There’s an oak library in a house in JP, and they’re about to gut the building. We can have it if we can pull it out tomorrow; otherwise, it’s landfill-bound.” We jumped into action, though our shop is not equipped with any slidey fire-poles.
The house was substantial and tired. The story I heard is that the last owners, formerly wealthly, divorced each other into penury, each living in a wing of the house while the battle wound on, burning chairs in the fireplaces to stay warm. A developer had finally gotten control of the property, with plans to gut, fluff, polish, and condo-ize.
We set to work.
We found concealed compartments in the top of the crown assembly, but no gold bars…
And cleaning up:
Of course, we couldn’t leave without exploring a bit to see what other tasty bits the house might have to show us. The room with the library also had a lovely oak mantel with a secret compartment, unfortunately empty like the ones on top of the bookcases.
There was also a Darwin-inspired spiral stair to the third floor:
A call box, of course:
And a truly fanciful dormer arrangement:
*We were recently working on a house when another tradesman (not working for me, thankfully!) cut a gas pipe. The house, the carpenters, and the resident cats all survived unscathed, and I got an adrenaline fix to last me for many years.