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Old 03-21-2010, 01:51 PM   #1
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Old roof opening mystery


Been working on my house built in 1925 and have become curious about what used to be some kind of opening in my roof. It's long been reframed and redecked. Second picture is evidently a piece of the original flashing. It is on the attic floor directly below the old opening. To me it looks like a chimney opening but it's directly and totally above the top of the main house staircase. There doesn't appear to be any wall where there might have been an old fireplace in any event anywhere near the opening. On the outside of where the roof line meets the wall there is what used to be a porch (has it's own roof), since enclosed and converted to a bedroom. Again, I don't see how a brick chimney could have come from there given how low the opening is on the roof and how close the porch wall would have been. Would have had to make an extreme angle almost horizontal. Since it's a two story house the only other possibility that occurs to me was that originally it might have been some kind of roof access hatch. Something like those waterproof doors that cover outside basement stairs. Did such a thing exist? Any other ideas anyone. Thanks
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Old 03-21-2010, 02:51 PM   #2
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Old roof opening mystery


Maybe an old skylight shaft

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Old 03-21-2010, 04:32 PM   #3
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Old roof opening mystery


It was most likely an access hatch.
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Old 03-21-2010, 06:02 PM   #4
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Old roof opening mystery


Thanks, both good ideas. I going to take up some of the floor boards in the attic under where the opening is and see what the ceiling framing looks like. If its framed out similar to the roof opening then I guess it was a skylight. If not, then probably roof access. Someone else suggested a dormer but I have a hip roof and there aren't any other openings framed like that. Seems pretty strange to have only one dormer off to one side of a hip roof but who knows what they were thinking in 1925.
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Old 03-22-2010, 08:09 AM   #5
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Old roof opening mystery


Maybe a gable vent also, seen many of those old homes with dog house vents popping out the roof here and there, normally more than one tho.
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Old 03-22-2010, 08:45 AM   #6
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Old roof opening mystery


I'd closely inspect the adjacent boards for signs of water damage. It looks to be about 2'x4'? standard size for skylights... but in the attic? In our old home, we removed the chimney from roof/attic and it was built at a slant of maybe 10 or 15 degrees to line up to the part of the roof where it would project through properly. Do you have updated 90%+ heat that exhausts through the wall? It may have BEEN a chimney hole... look on the floor directly under it to see if it has been recovered?


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Old 03-22-2010, 08:50 AM   #7
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Old roof opening mystery


Good suggestion Sly, depending on the roof slope I've seen these on older home also. Those older builder knew how to get air to circulate through a home. My guess is a chimney. Can you access under the home? Look for some type of foundation under the home approximate to the opening. I've seen mysterious roof patches in the center of homes, viewable from the attic, not noticeable from the roof, and found old chimney foundations under the center of the home. Some older homes had chimney stacks which served multiple rooms, interesting. As far as the bedroom addition, you really don't know what mods have been done to this home since built. David
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Old 03-22-2010, 01:04 PM   #8
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Old roof opening mystery


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Good suggestion Sly, depending on the roof slope I've seen these on older home also. Those older builder knew how to get air to circulate through a home. My guess is a chimney. Can you access under the home? Look for some type of foundation under the home approximate to the opening. I've seen mysterious roof patches in the center of homes, viewable from the attic, not noticeable from the roof, and found old chimney foundations under the center of the home. Some older homes had chimney stacks which served multiple rooms, interesting. As far as the bedroom addition, you really don't know what mods have been done to this home since built. David
I've been under the house a lot. No old chimney stacks. Hoping for some time to pull up those attic floorboards to see what the ceiling framing looks like. Also, no 90% heating units (yet). I have found a lot of modifications to the house. It used to have a maids staircase that's now enclosed (but still mostly there). I'm using that to run utilities. House was obviously originally divided into a maid portion (kitchen, pantry, and one small bedroom upstairs where the enclosed stairs went to) and owners portion. Still has a button in the dining room floor to call the maid. I don't touch that, my wife DOES NOT think its humorous at all. Has a mystery closet that locks with a key from the upstairs hallway. We have learned this was the "Silver Closet" where the sterling was kept locked away from the help. Oh, to have been wealthy in those days
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Old 03-22-2010, 01:16 PM   #9
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Old roof opening mystery


hmmm... if THAT was the maid's bedroom, it could have easily been a window. remodeled over at a later date.

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Old 03-22-2010, 11:47 PM   #10
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Old roof opening mystery


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hmmm... if THAT was the maid's bedroom, it could have easily been a window. remodeled over at a later date.

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Even then, they didn't make the help sleep in the attic
The maids room was(is) on the second floor at the exit of the top of the private (narrow and steep) staircase. It was never necessary for the hired help to actually run into the owners except when the buzzer was pressed. It was two totally separated areas. What a life
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Old 03-23-2010, 06:19 AM   #11
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Old roof opening mystery


In the 1700's and 1800's, it wasn't at all unusual to include roof access in the construction of a home. We have many of these in our historic areas. Back in the day, it wasn't unusual for the homeowner to do his own roofing. It was unusual for him to own a ladder.

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