Monday, September 21, 2009

Knox Hill Project: Weekly Update

For the most part this was what I like to call an "unglamorous weekend" , no "pretty" work that makes one go ooh, ahh...but rather the "behind the scenes work, that must go on behind any old house restoration.

Urban Archeology continues however and we unearthed yet another stone cap piece. We noticed just the edge visible in the yard. After much digging we were able to unearth the piece . It was one of the caps for the columns that were on either side of the front gate entry. We surmised that years later when they took down the long grape arbor they must have used this to fill the hole. I spoke with one of our neighbors who has been in the neighborhood for many years and he told me that up until maybe 15 years ago our front wall was still in pristine condition with its wrought iron gate and fence. About the time the neighborhood went downhill and the "scrap vandals' began their quest for anything they could make off with and take to a recyclers for beer and pot money.
In fact I had my first, and likely only encounter,with the neighborhood salvage thief this weekend. I learned when we got down Saturday that a house down the street had had all the copper stripped out of it. The owner has another house across the river and was not living in this one and the local "salvage thieves ' broke in and stripped the pipe out. Everyone in the neighborhood knows who the local thieves are. A couple of reprobate brothers who are well into their late 20/30's and still live at home off their mother who is the only one in the family that actually works. Neighbors saw their vehicle loaded up with scrap the other day headed for the recyclers and, lo and behold,the neighbors house gets ripped off. Fortunately for us our house was stripped long ago of its galvanized and copper ( in a way they did us a favor as we are running everything in pex and we would have just taken it out anyway).
I am always aware when anyone comes walking down our side street as its a dead end. And while it was raining I saw the local thief walking down the side street and I watched him checking out our neighbors carport. I came out on the side porch so he knew someone was watching. He saw me then walked back down the street. As he walked by he wanted to know if I had any work? I said sure if he was bonded, licensed, insured and could pass a drug screen. He mumbled something incoherent and walked down the street. I went in and a few minutes later I was looking out the window and saw him in the yard of a vacant house across and down the street. I bolted out of our house and got over there just as he was entering the garage. I asked him if he felt like going to jail and he hemmed an hawed about knowing the owner , blah, blah, blah. I told him he was trespassing and I had no problem calling the police. He had a little "false bravado backtalk" and I told him "look, everyone in this neighborhood knows you're a thief, further, everyone knows you ripped off the house down the street, If I, or any others in our crime watch see you in any one's yard from know on we are calling the police first and asking questions later".
He stared at me with that "Chomosome shy of a DNA strand look" and mumbled something about not being a thief, and I said, "Fine shall I just call the property owner and see if you had permission to be in her garage or should I just call the Police and let them sort it all out?" He shuffled back to his house, no doubt amazed that one, someone was 'smart enough' to figure out what he was doing, and two, that someone would call him out on it!
But that is what you have to do to change a neighborhood More importantly he saw me talking to other neighbors and he knows his days are numbered. There will be no more business as usual for him, the neighborhood is changing, if we wont tolerate a motorcycle gang in our neighborhood we certainly won't put up with his thievery.
We spent the majority of the weekend weekend gutting the kitchen and removing an old bathroom added about 1900 and last updated in 1959 (based on the newspapers we found in the wall behind the medicine chest to effect a plaster repair. I truly hate this phase of the work, its dirty, its backbreaking, but it has to be done. The bathroom walls came out just fine. The plaster was bear to take out as with 3 windows and a door with glass in it we had to be methodical in its removal, no take a sledgehammer and start swing stuff. It was more dis-assembly.
As expected no insulation in the walls so we are talking it down to the studs and will insulate. We still have some lath to remove and of course the ceiling must come out and we have TWO cast iron stacks to take out. Probably one more weekend of work to get it all the way down to the bones. But when its done it will be worth the effort!The house behind us is finally gone and they seeded and strawed the lot. It sure looks different!


Todd McFarland said...

Way to go Paul! Someone broke into my rehab on Broadway last week but the motion detector went off right away and nothing was taken. That alarm has paid for itself a couple times......

Paul Wilham said...

Its unfortunate that Vacant houses dont have Monitored alarmss, We put ours in first thing even though we never leave anything in the house, it's a pain carry tools back and forth but I use them up in Indy as well.

Salvage thieves are about the lowest form of life as far as I am concerned. They do thousands of dollars of damage to get a few dollars for beer money.

They need to seriously rework salvage dealer laws, require ID from anyone selling and a fingerprint. It might stop this.