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Old 02-24-2013, 09:47 PM   #76
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Re: old buildings


Did you see my last post on page 5? Just making sure, I noticed this new one was bumped to a new page.

Have you ever heard of Brownsville, PA? What a sad story, the town has become virtually abandoned. The Market Street has only a few businesses left. I explored parts of it with the nicer weather this saturday. I went behind the Second National Bank building, and this is what I found. I suppose this building would be considered to have brick walls that are not in plumb and decent condition as we once discussed. In the bottom of the second picture, you can see a window that has fallen, with the faded brown and orange 1960's-70's window blinds that my Grandmother installed new back when someone actually care about this building. The whole town is virtually abandoned. The cellar door was wide open. It invited me in, and I was greeted by a massive 450,000 BTU boiler and a huge old hot water heater. I plan to come back one day and see if there are any valuables, architectural or not, that are worth saving on the upper levels. On the fourth picture, the painted "ghost" type sign on the side of the building was an advertisement for the hotel type building next door which is now abandoned as well. I found an electric shut off notice in the door jamb of the "Town House" building next door dated for February of this year.
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Old 02-24-2013, 11:23 PM   #77
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Re: old buildings


Yes, I did!
Never been to brownsville, the street view map looks like it's a dump.
The brick wall collapsing like that is pretty much the end of that building, it probably developed a bulge from water leaking inside and freezing, or washing out mortar and it gave out. Usually there's signs, but when the wall collapses it just happens in an instant.
In 1973 an 8 story 1867 hotel in NYC developed a bulge in the facade wall that a city inspector reported as a violation, nothing was done about it and a couple of weeks later it collapsed onto the street.
A chase for drains or something had been cut in the wall, and a doorway was cut at some point in the basement.
It was built on the foundation and lower 3 story ruins of a theater building that burned down. My guess is building the much taller building on a foundation and walls that had been damaged by the fire was a real bad idea.
The center section under the tallest tower is what collapsed out onto the street, from an 1870s view, absolutely nothing in this image still exists today;




Doubt you'll find anything in that building, I'm sure anything of any value has already been stripped out.
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Old 02-26-2013, 05:20 PM   #78
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Re: old buildings


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Yes, I did!
Never been to brownsville, the street view map looks like it's a dump.
The brick wall collapsing like that is pretty much the end of that building, it probably developed a bulge from water leaking inside and freezing, or washing out mortar and it gave out. Usually there's signs, but when the wall collapses it just happens in an instant.
In 1973 an 8 story 1867 hotel in NYC developed a bulge in the facade wall that a city inspector reported as a violation, nothing was done about it and a couple of weeks later it collapsed onto the street.
A chase for drains or something had been cut in the wall, and a doorway was cut at some point in the basement.
It was built on the foundation and lower 3 story ruins of a theater building that burned down. My guess is building the much taller building on a foundation and walls that had been damaged by the fire was a real bad idea.
The center section under the tallest tower is what collapsed out onto the street, from an 1870s view, absolutely nothing in this image still exists today;

Doubt you'll find anything in that building, I'm sure anything of any value has already been stripped out.
It is a dump now-a-days, but it is better off than Detroit. I have heard several people state that Brownsville, PA has more abandoned buildings than anywhere outside of Detroit. It used to be a very promising city, now they are tearing-down several buildings on the same side of Market Street that the Second National Bank building is on. If they continue in that line, they will remove the main Monongahalea Bank building, the Town House building, and then this bank, the Second National Bank building. I'm sure you have heard of Pittsburgh, PA. They used to say that Pittsburgh wouldn't ever amount to anything, because it was too close to Brownsville. Certainly not true anymore. Brownsville still has potential, it has the oldest standing castiron bridge in the nation going down Market Street, which goes over Dunlap Creek. It also has, which was recently restored, the Flat Iron building, which I believe is the oldest of it's kind left as well. I think all that is left is an attorney, and a small drugstore on Market Street.

I believe this building dated back to the 1860's, when the original First National Bank was formed. If this building were in a larger city, or if Brownsville wasn't virtually a ghost town, I'm sure someone could knock-out surrounding damaged bricks, and buy a large lot of cheap, off-color bricks (perhaps what they did with the Lowe Building), rebuild the brick wall, and seal off the entire back wall with a good coat of paint to match the bricks, considering the bricks in the back aren't too pretty, and no one at street level will see it. The wooden joists inside look solid, and the floor didn't seem all too bad, considering the hole in the wall. I assume water was seeping into the bricks for an extended period of time, and it fell down very recently, perhaps within a year from the current date. Looked like there was a pretty cool looking vault inside as well. I didn't get much beyond the basement, but I plan to. I don't think there is anything really of value in there either, but who knows. I love to explore abandoned buildings, regardless. Below is a good shot of the building and then the Union Central Train Station in Brownsville, also now abandoned. Used to have storefronts on the main level in the 90's, before it was cleared-out.
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Old 02-26-2013, 07:35 PM   #79
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Re: old buildings


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I believe this building dated back to the 1860's, when the original First National Bank was formed. If this building were in a larger city, or if Brownsville wasn't virtually a ghost town, I'm sure someone could knock-out surrounding damaged bricks, and buy a large lot of cheap,
I don't see this as dating to that era, this is a newer building, and the facade if it isn't stone blocks is terracotta blocks, I'd say the latter since theres a couple of carvings that look to me like they are definitely terracotta, and that would date this building closer to about 1900.
It is an interesting building, in fact it reminds me a lot of a firehouse of that era, but the doorway is too narrow. I would not be surprised if it's architect had designed firehouses too.

The thing with the wall is, that wall fell down all on it's own, no earthquakes, tornado, or anything of the sort, that means the rest of that wall could be extremely unstable right now and could collapse at any time without warning.
The foundation could have settled there, or water leaks, any number of things, and no matter what the cause this would be a very expensive repair! Knocking more loose bricks out of that hole could cause the whole thing to go.
That is not a load bearing wall, if it was- the floor would have collapsed as the joists would have been supported by that wall, this must be a rear wall or something, because typically the side walls are the load bearing ones as the joists that were cut back then were cut out of single boards about 24 feet long or so, and if your building was that width or less, the joists spanned across the whole width in one shot, if it was wider you had to use two joists across and have a supporting bearing wall or columns in the center which increased costs.
The joist length is one reason you see most all small footprint older buildings in cities like NYC have 4 windows across the facade, and average around 24 feet or so wide.

The eagle plaque is terracotta, I'm 99.9% certain of it just from the photo, that puts the building in the 1880-1910 era for construction





REDEVELOPMENT AUTH CO OF FAYETTE


62 MARKET ST
Commercial
Structure
Type
BANK
Year Built1900
Gross Floor Area 5840

Base Year of Valuation 01/01/2003
Current Land 12,480
Current Building 16,150
Current Total 28,630

This last bit will get you going:

03-JUN-2009
LAND & BUILDING
Sale price $1
Deed book and page 3095 - 198

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Old 02-26-2013, 10:31 PM   #80
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Re: old buildings


A dollar? Really? Just pay closing costs -- and it's yours! Bet that brick wall was still standing in 2009. The "Redevelopment" company got lazy, because this building hasn't been touched in years. I know it is stable enough to walk in, and it appears that the roof drainage was clogged, water seeped into the bricks for years, and BOOM! It crashed down. I have closely inspected it, the side walls seem sound. Just major deterioration in the back. You can see the floor joists running from the sidewalls from the picture. The private upstairs access door on the left side of the front is unlocked, I didn't go up there because cars were going down the street, and I didn't want a police report called in. It was a very tempting offer when the door swung right open though. Right below that eagle plaque, you can see one of the vintage blinds that my grandmother installed new back in the day.

About the date, I didn't think it was that old, but I read an interview with an older gentleman who had passed away in the 90's, possibly a historian too. He stated that the First National Bank's charter from the 1860's (when they first formed) ran out after 20 years, and it couldn't be renewed. So they liquidated and reformed in the 1880's as the Second National Bank. He mentioned that they returned to the original First National Bank building, across from the flatiron building on Market St., which is right where this building is located. Seems like alot of buildings where they weren't sure of the date were listed at 1900. It's possible this building dated from the late 1880's as I had initially assumed before I found that interview, or the "original building" burned down in 1900, was rebuilt, and the older man didn't know about it. He mentioned they merged with the larger Monongahalea Bank before the Great Depression, so who knows what this building was used as from then up until it was left to rot. For all I know, it's slated for demolition. That would be a shame, but such as life I suppose.

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Old 02-28-2013, 09:35 PM   #81
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Ya know, one could buy the entire Market Street of Brownsville, all the buildings, for next to nothing. That would include the huge abandoned Central Train Station as well. But the issue is, there is nothing that can be done with it. There is a little town local to us in East Liverpool here. I doubt you've heard of it, it's called Midland, PA. It was a total dump, and it was miserable driving through it even just a decade ago or so. Now, since a large school, possibly a cyber school, moved in, it has totally turned around. The whole main drag looks really nice, new streetlights, buildings refurbished, the works. Lots of businesses moved in, and it's a very nice little area now. Have you ever heard of California University, of California, PA? Thats right next to Brownsville, and because of the college, it is much better off than Brownsville.

The shipping industry in Brownsville is dead... if a new industry were to move into Brownsville, it would become really nice again. The place just needs jobs to attract people. If someone bought all the buildings up for pennies (obviously having some money to start with for necessary structural repairs), and a new industry moved in, paired with the amazing history of the town, it would boom again. Not to mention that the fellow that owns all the historical buildings on Market Street, considering the new interest in the area, would make a nice chunk of cash. The population peeked in the 1940's at 8 thousand or so, mind you it was bigger than Pittsburgh at the time. I think it is down to 2 thousand some now. East Liverpool houses more now, even more than Brownsville did at it's peak, with 11,000 current residents, but it is headed on track to being a Brownsville.

What town do you live in again? How is it doing, at least on a comparison to the towns aforementioned?
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Old 02-28-2013, 10:43 PM   #82
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Re: old buildings


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Ya know, one could buy the entire Market Street of Brownsville, all the buildings, for next to nothing. That would include the huge abandoned Central Train Station as well. But the issue is, there is nothing that can be done with it

The shipping industry in Brownsville is dead... if a new industry were to move into Brownsville, it would become really nice again. The place just needs jobs to attract people. If someone bought all the buildings up for pennies
The problem is, these buildings deteriorate so rapidly and extensively once the roof starts leaking and window panes are gone, that it would cost a fortune, more than the buildings are worth just to stop further deterioration and seal them up.
Even that bank building was only assessed around $25,000 and I suspect that was mostly for the LAND.
The thing is, where there is one or two buildings in a neighborhood like this, it's no big deal, but when the entire block, or the neighborhood is essentially abandoned, no business you could put there will ever get walk-in traffic sales, people will not feel safe walking down a street past 12 abandoned buildings with broken windows and cracked sidewalks to shop at a five and dime store.

As far as bringing in a new industry, and saving the town, it aint gonna happen, not in today's economy and it's not going to improve much more than it has the last 4 years for YEARS yet to come, by then these abandoned buildings will probably be gone or so bad they will never be rehabbed and will be on a demolition list.

NYC, the South Bronx had a huge abandonment problem in the 70s and 80s, the movie; "Fort Apache: The Bronx" accurately depicts what the South Bronx looked like. The city was tearing down thousands of buildings per month and not keeping up!

Here's some samples, every single building in these shots was abandoned, all the bare land is where buildings once stood:









Every big city is having this problem- Detroit, Chicago, you name it. Where the business districts have been decimated you'll find nearby residential neighborhoods look like these shots more or less too, not as many buildings like these but homes instead of brick buildings abandoned.

One of the news magazines, 48 hours I think did a documentary on home foreclosures, they went with a banker, and then some city official to look at some of the homes the bank foreclosed on, every home had been broken into, stripped of everything of value- electrical wiring, plumbing, fixtures, appliances, even aluminum siding all ripped out and hauled off.
The reporter brought up the question of if someone wanted to buy the house they were standing in filming, for a dollar, could they, yes, even for one dollar, but no one wants those houses and no one wants to live in a neighborhood that looks like Beirut after the war!
There were even brand new row homes, with construction scaffolding still in front and porch/steps not installed yet, that were standing there abandoned by the builder who went bankrupt, the glass in the windows was all smashed, the fixtures etc all ripped out
There's millions of these old buildings and homes out there no one wants, falling apart because there's no money, no new start up industries moving in, and people will not live in a place that bad.
Detroit, Vegas, Pittsburgh, Chicago, it's all bad and getting worse, check out the Lee Plaza hotel in Detroit:

This is what part of it looked like in 1999

http://www.flickr.com/photos/71288712@N00/362309606/

Interior shots in 2008, THIS much damage in under 8 years:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/detroitliger/2822760633/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/detroitliger/3045123498/

What the upper part looked like with the windows smashed out, ornaments pulled out of the walls, and the copper roof stripped off:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/decojim/461029792/

The city put the chain link fence around it, but obviously it was too little too late in this 2007 view;

http://www.flickr.com/photos/decojim...n/photostream/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/decojim...n/photostream/

http://www.forgottendetroit.com/leeplaza/index.html


There was a small hope a few eyars ago it would be renovated and saved, but the money is not there, a buyer is not there, and this 15 stroy building if it's still there is almost beyond salvage now.


Quote:
What town do you live in again? How is it doing, at least on a comparison to the towns aforementioned?
Lake city, a small town of 1700 people, it's doing fine but there is no real industry here other than a major hospital. There's quite a few houses for sale, the thing is there's essentially no jobs here, so the town would never attract families who need work unless they are willing to drive 45 minutes to an hour to the nearest larger town. Several businesses that tried, failed, such as a couple of computer stores, one didn't last two months, the other gave up after a year.
So it's a case of about the only way anyone will move to a small town like this is if they bring their own established small business and it's one people want. There's no real market for another hardware store, grocery store, variety store, hair salon, bank, computer store, veterinarian, etc
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Old 03-01-2013, 08:26 AM   #83
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Re: old buildings


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There are modern replacement windows that look appropriate and have dual pane argon low E glass, and not cost too much.
.

That is one of the worst possible things you can do to an old building. The modern double glazed copies with imitation 'Georgian' style glazing bars are dreadful.
You cannot replicate the 'shimmer' of such materials as traditional Crown glass in small panels, with modern float glass; and the stick-on glazing bars deceive no-one.
In restoration, you repair what's there; you don't make cheap immitations.
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Old 03-01-2013, 12:29 PM   #84
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That is one of the worst possible things you can do to an old building. The modern double glazed copies with imitation 'Georgian' style glazing bars are dreadful.
You cannot replicate the 'shimmer' of such materials as traditional Crown glass in small panels, with modern float glass; and the stick-on glazing bars deceive no-one.

I disagree, and I was not suggesting one buy those CHEAP plastic windows witht he fake between the glass dividers, or the fake stick-on dividers, there are limitations to everything, and one limitation is how much energy costs to heat a building with drafty, half rotted, half working half not old wood windows that saw their best days in the 1890s.

With the cost for heat today it is absolutely foolish and stupid to waste energy and money that can be better spent not enriching the oil companies or polluting the air even more burning coal at power plants- just for minor COSMETICS.
When coal was $2 a TON delivered no one cared if half the heat was lost out the drafty old windows.
Unless you are restoring a HISTORIC, valuable, landmark building, those old wood windows can be replaced with double pane, argon filled, low E replacements that eliminate the air infiltration and leakage, reduce the amount of heating the uv from the sun puts into a room, and it greatly reduces the wasted heat out the single pane glass, which in my house would develop an actual layer of ICE on the INSIDE during the winter!

Since I replaced all the windows in my house with new ones, my electric bill dropped by at least $35 per month since I don't have to run a 1500 watt space heater 16 hours a day any more just to keep warm when sitting at the computer!
I did have to do that with the original windows because the glass cloated with ICE on the inside was 3 feet away from where I'm sitting at my desk.

Since I replaced the windows, I no longer get ice on the inside, I no longer feel cold drafts from leaks or the convection caused by that cold surface.
Those who don't mind throwing hundreds of dollars out the windows literally by retaining outdated, obsolete, rotted, loose, impossible to repair single pane windows be my guest, but I have seen a positive reduction in my energy costs that is verifiable by my utility bills, and it amounts to a savings that will cover the full cost for 2 or 3 of the new windows a year.

I can cool my entire 1,000 sq foot house with one 5200 BTU window air conditioner even in hot humid Iowa summers.

Again: unless your building is on the historic register, a designated landmark having significant architectural history, or George Washington's slaves personallyl made your windows, or you have windows with the rare curved glass, bevelled glass, stained glass etc then there are high quality new energy efficient windows that will replace those old wood ones with something better that will absolutely save money on gas/electric/oil

Quote:
Windows in historic wood frame buildings are usually twice as tall as they are wide. Traditional exterior trim includes
the sill, a four-inch wide casing at the sides (jam) and at the
top (head), and a wood drip mold to shed water.

Stock modern windows lack traditional trim and therefore they are not visually

compatible with older buildings.

That is why you don't buy stock windows with the fake dividers- they rarely will fit the existing opening, you have to order custom sizes, and trim can be replaced/replicated real easy.





Quote:
In restoration, you repair what's there; you don't make cheap immitations.
In normal restoration, not historic landmark restorations- you repair what is worth saving that can't be reproduced- wood carvings, stained glass, pressed tin, terracotta elements, carved stone, bronze fixtures, intricate tile work, marble floors, wood wainscot, and you replace what is unnecessarily wasting huge amounts of energy, is a safety risk, or a fire risk.

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Old 03-01-2013, 02:06 PM   #85
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Re: old buildings


RWolff;
I understand - and agree with - some of the points you make. However, there are a couple of aspects which I believe you may not have considered, or maybe just dismissed too lightly.

1. You rightly say that historic or architecturally significant buildings should be carefully preserved. By these I assume you mean the George Washington's house/Empire State/medieval cathedral category. However, lower down the social and architectural scale there are a great many older buildings from the late 18th- up to the early 20th centuries, which make up a fair proportion of our towns and cities.

These more humble buildings may not have neo-classical columns or grand porticos but still display solid and careful craftsmanship from earlier and less hurried times. It is these buildings which can often profitably be repaired and maintained in use. Repairing (rather than trashing) old windows is a case in point. For example, a carefully-repaired leaded glass window always looks infinitely better than a modern pane with stick-on lead cames.

A further justification for maintaining old work, be it joinery, masonry, brickwork, tiling, leadwork etc is that it keeps the crafts alive, with younger workers being trained in these traditional techniques.

In short, these humble buildings often form the backcloth to our lives. Who wants to live in a world where there is no everyday historical link with the past - where all older buildings are smartened-up, re-clad, smoothed, straightened-out and generally tarted-up?



2. You put considerable emphasis on energy conservation, which is obviously where most older buildings fail. Even so, I would question the extent to which energy conservation should have priority over maintaining the building fabric. To give an example; I may be wrong, but I think in an earlier post you mentioned lining the interior of solid brick walls with PUR/PIR boards. This can often speed up deterioration of the brickwork by keeping it cooler and therefore damper.
Ultimately, if you are after energy conservation, then long-term we should demolish and re-build all older buildings (other than G.W.'s house, medieval cathedrals etc), but who wants to live in a world where you have to drive x miles to see a bit of history?

Just my thoughts.
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Old 03-01-2013, 03:06 PM   #86
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[QUOTE=tony.g;1127601]RWolff;
Quote:
It is these buildings which can often profitably be repaired and maintained in use. Repairing (rather than trashing) old windows is a case in point. For example, a carefully-repaired leaded glass window always looks infinitely better than a modern pane with stick-on lead cames.
Leaded glass windows are a rarity, the windows I am talking about are the run of the mill "off the shelf" stock double hung single pane windows that all the construction companies used because they were cheap and they only had to nail them in the hole and put the trim on and it was done.
Those windows were then the same concept you have today with the stock items at menards, Anderson windows, Pella windows- all stock windows you find everywhere.

Ditto for all the usual 4 panel pine or softwood doors used for interiors- they used pine or other softwood because they were cheap and were to be PAINTED, and painted they were, with layer after layer of lead paint over the years.
You can still buy solid pine, (or oak) 4 raised panel doors, I know because I bought one last summer, they are not rare or valuable.
In the cheaper buildigns you had pine or softwood flooring.

It was on the BETTER buildings they used oak doors with solid bronze hardware instead of plated steel, leaded glass, bevelled glass (which today is a safety hazard and liability risk due to its not being safety glass) stained glass, marble floors, or hardwood floors etc.

Marble floors are worth saving, so is oak, but spruce, or fir or whatever that softwood so many floors were made of because it was cheaper, is not always worth keeping. My house had this kind of flooring, it was a single "sub floor" layer in all the rooms but the dining room which had 2 layers of it, it had obvious coal ash burns, holes, including some knot holes that had been patched with pieces of sheet metal, splits, a large removed floor register that was patched with sheet metal, and over this was 3 layers of linoleum sheeting and then carpet that was so old the rubber backer turned to black powder dust.
A floor like that has no viability to repair effectively, it was way past it's service life and I replaced the whole thing.

Here's the floor in the dining room before I tore it out, that hole was covered with sheetmetal, are you going to tell me THIS kind of floor is worth repairing?? you could never get any repairs to match or look right, nor be practical, imagine trying to MOP or clean this floor.




This was the kitchen floor before I replaced it too. it was once a back porch, you can even see they simply had put linoleom sheet over the old porch deck boards and called it good:




The point is, just because it's old, original or whatever, it's not always worth keeping, this floor certainly wasn't, even though it dated to 1930

If you have old wood windows, chances are good the horizonal bars are ROTTED, simply because the rain sheets down the glass and if the old glazing compound which lasts about 1-2 years old before cracking, is cracked, it lets water run right into the wood.
All of the window sills on my house were so rotten the boards came apart in my hands when I went to replace the windows. The original window sashes had all been replaced in the 70s with wood, single hung windows using those cheap plastic tracks on the sides instead of weights.
Not one of the windows worked right, they would either open half way and jam or not stay up when opened. The installed aluminum storm windows on the outside as well.

THIS is what the new windows look like on the studio room addition, the same double hung configuration as the original windows, but a new vinyl window, double glass, argon low E. I replicated the pine headers and the drip strip above it, replaced both trim boards on the sides with new treated lumber, and replicated the sills exactly like the originals but out of treated 2x8 lumber.
I also replicated the clapboard out of pine with the same reveal the rest of the house has:





Quote:
Who wants to live in a world where there is no everyday historical link with the past - where all older buildings are smartened-up, re-clad, smoothed, straightened-out and generally tarted-up?
We're talking about replacing WINDOWS well past their intended sservice life, not entire buildings.

Quote:
2. You put considerable emphasis on energy conservation, which is obviously where most older buildings fail. Even so, I would question the extent to which energy conservation should have priority over maintaining the building fabric. To give an example; I may be wrong, but I think in an earlier post you mentioned lining the interior of solid brick walls with PUR/PIR boards. This can often speed up deterioration of the brickwork by keeping it cooler and therefore damper.
Ultimately, if you are after energy conservation, then long-term we should demolish and re-build all older buildings (other than G.W.'s house, medieval cathedrals etc), but who wants to live in a world where you have to drive x miles to see a bit of history?
Today when you have many people who can't even afford to heat their homes because they are being raped for $700/mo utility bills, it is not insignificant to consider that energy costs can make or break whether saving a house or building happens, or it gets abandoned or demolished.
Every dollar the owner wastes on heat loss is a dollar not going into fixing the roof, or restoring the damaged stonework.

I'm a woodworker, I know what wood looks like when it starts to rot and how now matter how many bandaids in the form of more screws, nails, coats of paint, caulk or coats of epoxy wood repair material you put on it, it's not going to make a rotten sash board like new again.

Also, a person has to consider their budget, our colleague here with his Thompson building is not someone who happens to have $10 million sitting in his bank account with nothing to do, if he did buy the building he will have to weigh how much money he will lose in heat out all of those single pane windows v/s the costs for reapirs v/s the cost to replace with tax credits etc
He will have to decide if he replaces them whether he can afford $1200 custom made replicas or go with $150 close-enough windows from Menards. Ultimately it is his BUDGET that will prevail and if the cost difference is $50,000 to replace with look-alikes v/s custom made replicas, he will have to decide if minor cosmetics are worth the $50,000 additional cost, that's the bottom line.
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Old 03-01-2013, 05:12 PM   #87
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Re: old buildings


Take a group of abandoned 19th-century brick town houses.

At one extreme, you could put in new windows and doors, reconfigure the interiors with new stairs, floors, partitions etc; perhaps stucco the exterior to smarten it up and keep the rain out, line walls with insulation/drywall, and finally give it a nice new roof. Result? A smart, energy-efficient building.

At the other extreme, you could patch it up, repair and repoint the brickwork; repair, re-felt and reslate the roof and perhaps put some loft insulation in. Result; a relatively energy inefficient building, but one which maintains that link with the past.

It's not a case of right or wrong; it's really just a case of balance, and where between these two extremes we sit. You possibly lean more to the former approach, while others among us may sympathise more with the latter. My own preference is to see solid but obsolete buildings sympathetically saved and re-used where possible, though not to thoughtlessly sacrifice them on the altar of energy conservation and efficiency.

re. your point on windows; rot or not will depend on climate, maintenance (or lack of it) and quality of timber. My own house is 1920s and has original timber casement (hinged) windows. The old wood is generally very good, though inevitably rotted in one or two places. Ive just spliced pieces in where necessary, and paint them every 3/4 years. They look good and go with the age of the building. Most of my neighbours have replaced theirs with double-glazed PVC windows and they look dreadful. But again its down to preferences. As a kid I grew up in a house heated by open coal fires, ice on the windows (as your old ones) and getting dressed for school in bed - so I don't care about a bit of a draught, but that's my choice!

By the way and as a matter of interest; that old pine floor in your kitchen -
do you remember how the boards were fixed to the joists? nails?(oval or round) screws? brads? - it's just that I'm interested in these old details!
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Old 03-01-2013, 06:35 PM   #88
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Re: old buildings


Quote:
, but I think in an earlier post you mentioned lining the interior of solid brick walls with PUR/PIR boards. This can often speed up deterioration of the brickwork by keeping it cooler and therefore damper.
I have no idea what "PUR/PIR boards" are, I only said that if our colleague here buys the Thompson building he will have to almost beyond doubt tear out interior walls, plaster and lathe and replace them due to the extensive water damage from the long leaking roofs (the attached building had a 50 gallon garbage can full of rainwater sitting on an upper floor where the floor was rotted.
I suggested that if he wound up having to do that, that it would be a good idea to put in roll or batts of insulation, and that the wall cavities would need to be vented so moisture can get out.


Quote:
Originally Posted by tony.g View Post
Take a group of abandoned 19th-century brick town houses.

At one extreme, you could put in new windows and doors, reconfigure the

though not to thoughtlessly sacrifice them on the altar of energy conservation and efficiency.
Again: I am talking about replacing rotted, deteriorated, common, run of the mill, inefficient single pane old wood WINDOWS, with new ones that will save energy by having two panes of glass with argon and low E coating, and look just as good. You get what you pay for, if you go to Menards you get cheap looking windows with the fake stick-on grills for $129.95, if you go to Pella and get a custom sized wood or wood covered with aluminum or vinyl window, they have them in styles that will look original and be sized right. It doesn't matter if the window has vinyl or aluminum covering over wood- you PAINT wood windows anyway, if the aluminum or vinyl has integrated color to it, in my case- white, you aren't going to tell whether the painted window is wood or aluminim, but the wood will need constant paint and caulk, the aluminum or vinyl wont.

I'm not advocating nor do I approve of destroying brick facades with stucco overlays, replacing hand laid parquet floors with linoleum or carpets, ripping out carved wood stairwells, or replacing stained glass transoms with plexiglass.
I'm talking about replacing windows that are BEYOND any help with paint, caulk, resins, adding more nails or new panes to, whose structural integrity is gone, where the glass is loose and falling out, the corners rotted, the sill rotted enough a screw driver can push thru it, and it's nailed shut because it's non functional any more.
My kitchen windows were like that- nailed shut years before, with the glass literally falling out.



Quote:
re. your point on windows; rot or not will depend on climate, maintenance (or lack of it) and quality of timber. My own house is 1920s and has original timber casement (hinged) windows. The old wood is generally very good, though inevitably rotted in one or two places. Ive just spliced pieces in where necessary, and paint them every 3/4 years. They look good and go with the age of the building.
That's fine for a house, but what if you had to hire a contractor to come set up 3 floors worth of scaffolding on two sides of a building like that Thompson building every 3-4 years to do this? You know they aren't going to come out and do that for anything less than 4 figures!

Quote:
Most of my neighbours have replaced theirs with double-glazed PVC windows and they look dreadful.
No doubt because they went with the cheap stuff and had a contractor put it in, you get what you pay for, but I bet their utility bill dropped considerably after they changed those windows out.

Quote:
But again its down to preferences. As a kid I grew up in a house heated by open coal fires, ice on the windows (as your old ones) and getting dressed for school in bed - so I don't care about a bit of a draught, but that's my choice!
Oh I sure do, I keep my heat set to 72 degrees all winter.

Quote:
By the way and as a matter of interest; that old pine floor in your kitchen
do you remember how the boards were fixed to the joists? nails?(oval or round) screws? brads? - it's just that I'm interested in these old details!
They were just nailed in, it was a former back porch converted into a kitchen around 1950, and they used plaster and lathe on the walls.
The joists that were used were random pieces of what looked like salvaged boards of every size imaginable, there would be a massive 2x12 next to a 2x6 which was next to a 2x8, they just used whatever was laying around. One end of the joists were toe nailed to a 2x4 which was nailed to the concrete block on the foundation of the house, the other end of the joists rested on 12"x12" x8' long timbers that looked like they were salvaged from the long gone railroad roundhouse nearby that was demolished in the 20s. Those were just laid on flat rocks on the ground and were totally rotted on the bottom and inside.

I wound up removing the entire floor and joists and replacing them, and building a block foundation wall.

With most of the old floor out;



New joists in, the original joists were just toenailed to a 2x4 that was nailed to the concrete block wall, I didn't like that at all, I used steel joist straps and screwed them to the wood beam, and then built a stud wall in the basement under it to support that end of the joists.
The original floor was tilted almost 5" across this 8 foot width, and with it the outside wall and roof it was supporting.





With the white porcellain tile in and freshly grouted:



This was the front of the house in 1999 when I moved in, I had just added one railing section by this point as there were no railings;




And the back, it had two doors with cheap storm doors, and a crazy horizontal aluminum slider window, I got rid of one of the door openings;





The front in 2006.
I added two more support columns and enclosed the porch. I was unable to get the roof line sag out because it was so bad for so long the beam took that shape. Two of the original three posts were rotted at the bottoms and were replaced.
I also added an "eyebrow" with curved brackets over the large window and opened the basement windows to light again- they had all been boarded over and covered with tarpaper which made the basement like a dark damp tomb.


Last edited by RWolff; 03-01-2013 at 06:53 PM.
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Old 03-02-2013, 01:10 AM   #89
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Re: old buildings


First off, those buildings are ashame, especially the hotel in Detroit! That last link had some pretty gruesome interior pictures. I know there is likely no hope for this town, I'm just stating what needs to happen. You never know what the future will hold, there are a million possibilities. Now, I'm going to add my opinion in here over all of this.

First off, I have read studies that state that only 10 percent of energy loss in homes is due to old windows, and that new replacement windows only reduce that to 5 percent loss, so that 50 percent savings on new windows is only 5 percent of overall energy loss. However, this likely wouldn't account for extremely deteroriated wooden windows. I have also heard that old wooden windows that are up-kept, with brand new, tight, storm windows, have a higher R-value than new double pane windows, simply because of the dead air space inbetween the panes, Low-E agron gas or not. However, these articles may be biased toward old windows. I likely would NOT replace the windows in the Thompson building, for several reasons. One, the original architectural elements (in what I believe are the original windows) which simply cannot be replicated at a reasonable cost. Two, plain and simple, the cost. I don't wan't crappy 150 dollar replacement windows, and I certainly don't want to pay a thousand on top of that for replacement windows. Think, on the 45 windows JUST on the FRONT of the Thompson building alone, that would be 54 THOUSAND dollars. How would that money be recouped? It would take awhile. It could be more, these old windows are HUGE. It just doesn't seem reasonable. For a third reason, I think the existing windows look fairly solid. Those old hardwoods last SO much longer than todays youngwood windows. New windows just won't hold up. Storm windows would be costly on a job like this too. Re-glaze and re-paint properly with good paint, and it should last nearly a decade. Personally, I would stick up plastic over interior windows for dead air space, and to stop convection currents. This could be repeated annually. Just hang heavy curtains.

Now, in your case, with windows that were replaced cheaply in the 70's, I would put up no arguement on modern replacements. Original windows, when repairable (I've seen miracles with epoxy putty, it can make wood harder than when it was new), should try to be conserved. Original weighted windows were made much better than cheap, spring-loaded, wooden sashes with plastic tracks. I would nail new oak hardwoods over that old subfloor of yours, personally. Then again, if there was rot bellow, I guess the best method would be to rip it all out. See how the siding is level with the window casing on your house? There really aren't any shadows that make it pop, there is no depth. Historic architecture has the window casings sticking out from the siding. Around here, with the Marcellus Shale, gas prices are at an all-time low. The gas bills were 120 dollars in the 90's, and 90 dollars when the 1957 furnace was replaced later that decade. Gas bills are around 50 dollars recently. I believe insulation is key in energy savings, and should be worried about over windows, unless windows are rotted to the point that there is no saveable wood left.

Personally, I prefer it a little cold. I would prefer 68 degrees over 72. I wouldn't hire a contractor, I would rent scaffolding and do it myself. It would take time, but I'd save myself a huge chunk of money. I am obviously more on the side of repair over replace, but you bring up some good points. For instance, I am ALWAYS for repairing historical plaster and lathe, but in a building like this it is only feasable for interior walls. The only practical way to do it would be to tear down all exterior walls to the studs and re-do plumbing, electrical, and insulate, then hang drywall. In the first picture, the Lowe building wall, third floor, I would repair. In the second picture, the Thompson building front turret room ceiling, third floor, I would have to replace. I could purchase these buildings, repair the roof, tear-down all rotted material, clean up, and even repair and repaint exterior woodwork and windows in the first summer, all including dumpster rental. That's the easy (and affordable) part. The hard part (read: expensive) is what comes after, like running new plumbing and electrical where applicable, insulating, hanging drywall, flooring, ceilings, ect... and, of course, keep it all up to code and under budget. The price on materials will kill you. After the demolition, the rebuild would come very slowly. Renting more storefronts will help fund it, but there is no demand in this area. You'd be lucky to rent to anyone at all!
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Old 03-02-2013, 05:58 AM   #90
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Re: old buildings


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Nice job and a lovely house.

Leaving aside materials, the only thing I would disagree with is your comment about the porch roof sagging. Personally I don't think it detracts from the house at all. It's part of the history of your house, and something which distinguishes it from the cheap, neat, mass-produced stuff of today.

Besides, it's hardly noticeable unless it's pointed out!

Great job.

By the way; FYI, PUR = rigid polyurethane and PIR = polyisocyanate. These are the yellow insulation boards which are usually faced both sides with aluminium foil. They are extremely good insulators, inch-for-inch being about twice as efficient as ordinary polystyrene board (though more expensive).


Last edited by tony.g; 03-02-2013 at 06:14 AM.
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