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  • Writer's pictureoriane


No more wires.

No more pipes.

or nails...

or really, anything.

It's Friday, October 30th and demolition is complete.

It took 3 men with a truck 3 weeks to strip the house to the clean slate from which the real work will begin.

Honestly, it’s been a little weird seeing it all happen.

I imagined I’d feel more sentimental as decades of patina were violently dislodged and literally tossed out of a window, but I didn’t. If anything, I almost felt like that high school freshman in Biology class.

Starring, bewildered, at the inner workings of a dissected frog, marveling at how all of it comes together.

Overall, the demolition phase has been scientific, analytical, and not very creative.

At only a few weeks in, if there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that this renovation will be different from our last. In so many ways, it’s much less “hands on” and not being the one to wield the sledge hammer has left me feeling a bit removed from it all. I won’t lie and tell you I don’t miss the accomplishment of DIY; the satisfaction that comes from demolishing your home and then building it up again yourself.

It's hard to imagine that just 25 days ago, we had 2 tenants, a kitchen that harkened the 1970s and amidst this global pandemic, Chris was still using the dining room table in unit 1 as a home office.

Temporarily, at least, this doesn't feel like our home.

But today, as the dust literally settles and the very very early morning light started to creep into this hollowed out space. I felt...I dunno...reconnected?

True, we weren't the ones removing the lath and plaster, but we decided this house was worth renovating. If we hadn't envisioned a second chapter for this two flat, like most on the block it would have been labeled a tear down--the land more valuable than the brick building on it.

So, no. We didn't swing the hammer, but we did save the house.

If you know me, I am a lover of older houses. A sucker for history, architecture, and just about anything with story behind it; like the families that built Chicago two flats looking for a financial leg up, or the craftsman who put time and energy into something beautiful, unique, or sturdy, that would last a lifetime.

To me, this is why this house was worth renovating and not tearing was built to last and outlast those that built it.

If we do our job right, it'll outlast us, too.

The preservationist in me is ashamed to admit that I didn't tear up as they ripped out original hardwood flooring, 8 inch baseboards or solid oak doors. Everything has its time, and I think its critical to understand this so we can preserve what's worth saving while keeping things relevant for future use. I guess I saw the short term destruction as the rebirth of this century old building.

It's the baseline. The blank canvas where all things are possible.

With demolition complete we are at what feels like (and likely is) the easiest part. The stillness of a 120 year old brick building echoes the calm before the storm of possible plumbing issues, change orders, and complaints by the neighbors that the workers are playing their music too loudly. Before urgent meetings must be had or critical decisions need to be made.

Just 4 ancient brick walls a roof and some windows, full of promise and a new future.

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