You never know what you will find while renovating an old house.  As we continue to follow the progress on the renovation of an eighteenth century farm house, the point is driven home even deeper.

The contractors removed the rotting floor boards from the back porch and got a big surprise.  I too was startled when I almost steped into the 30 foot deep hand dug well while on a site visit.  We were amazed at the beauty of the stonework and the idea that someone had not only dug this well by hand, but had lined it with stone starting over 30 feet down.  As the home was added onto over the centuries, this well had been abandoned and a porch built over it, even though it still contains water to this today.

As the contractors opened up walls and removed trim boards we found a lot of rot and therefore the front porch had to be removed.  In addition, the whole house was leaning about 4 inches to one side and needed to be braced and straightened.  This may sound shocking, but to anyone who has done work on really old homes which are in poor repair, none of these conditions were outdside the norm.

When we looked into the walls we did find some interesting wall construction including a form of wattle-and-daub (mud and timbers or sticks) and even brick in-fill.

Now with rot repaired and the house stabilized, we can begin the actual construction which will bring this home back to life.

About the Author: James Crisp

James M. Crisp has been an architect for well over 30 years. His architectural firm, Crisp Architects, designs projects throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. In April of 2007, Taunton Press published 'On the Porch' by James M. Crisp and Sandra Mahoney.

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8 Comments

  1. Joy Jones Hollars October 7, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Jimmy,
    Loves these articles. I live in a 100 plus year old farm house which you may have visited growing up. it is in Loranger. We are having a new well drilled and yesterday they broke the drill bit about 10 ft. down and thought they had hit an old propane tank and when they retrived the bit it was stuck in an old pine lighter knot. Where is this house located and did they fill in the well? The craftsmanship with the stone looks beautiful. Hope you have a beautiful fall, it is so dry down here and no rain in sight. Joy

  2. Kirsten Ursem i.DESIGN October 7, 2010 at 10:08 am

    What an exciting project this must be! Thanks for sharing this.
    Can not wait to see what the end result will be.
    Kirsten, i.DESIGN

  3. James Crisp October 7, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Joy,

    This is upstate New York. That is funny about your well. Don’t you love old homes? JC

  4. James Crisp October 7, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Thanks, I’ll keep posting.

  5. Michael Weitzner December 9, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Now you can add archeologist to your resume.

  6. James Crisp December 10, 2010 at 6:21 am

    I nearly became a fossil when I almost stepped into it.

  7. ilana January 6, 2011 at 8:37 am

    What happened with the well? Was it covered by the new porch? Did anyone toy with ideas on incorporating it into the renovation?
    What a neat old house.

  8. James Crisp January 6, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    That well was a great surprise. Unfortunately it was where the new porch had to be, so it will stay hidden another couple of hundred years untill the next contractors open up the porch.

    I agree, it is a great old house. JC

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