Saturday, October 26, 2013

Researching the History of Our House

I was able to head down to the library downtown and do some research on our sweet little house.  I didn't get a whole lot more information than what I was already able to find using regular online searches and  But I was able to have the permit cards for our property right in my hand and see when and what was done on the property since 1901!

Part of our property's permit card - dating from 1901


The city directories were also a lot of fun.  Lots of those are archived on, but you have to be looking for the correct name.  When you're looking directly in the book, you can look up the address.  And that's helpful because the names are sometimes misspelled, or just spelled differently from year to year.

1950 City Directory

Charles Olek worked at the Pillsbury Mill downtown - 1939

As you might imagine, there aren't usually pictures and a lot of historic information on private residences, unless they were significant in some way.  Since our house is just a 1950s same-old-same-old, there weren't any pictures of our house, just the permit cards and directory listings.

What I was able to find a lot about was our neighborhood.  Ever since we bought the house, I wondered about the big building across the street.  It's apartments now, but it doesn't look like that's what it was from the beginning.  And we've met one of our neighbors who lives there and he says he thinks his apartment used to be a gymnasium.  So I looked for the building and the librarians brought me 3 huge envelopes that were bursting with newspaper clippings.  Turns out the building used to be the Margaret Barry Settlement House, up until the 1970s or so.  What's a settlement house?  Since the Northeast neighborhoods were largely settled by immigrants, settlement houses were a place to gather and find resources.  From what I read on the Margaret Barry House, there were English, typing, and parenting classes; job and living resources; preschool and childrens' education; and frequent dances and gatherings for the teenagers of the neighborhood.

Margaret Barry House - 1925

Article on the Margaret Barry House - 1932

I also found a really cool photo of the building where a couple of our good friends live, just a mile or two down the road from us.  It was built by the Cream of Wheat company for the offices and factory, I believe, and it has been converted into very cool lofts. 

Names of people who have previously owned our property:
        Lucy Doyle and Edward J Doyle  (1901-1910)
        Vincent and Sophia Fanzig, Charles and Sophia Olek  (1931-1943)
        Angelo and Conjate Cremisino  (1943-1945)
        Charles A Pettis  (1945-1946)
        Didrick J Orfield, John F Sandstrom  (1946)
        Kenneth A Chase  (1946-1949)
        Hope A Quinn (1949-1951)
        Frank J & Rose M Flanigan  (1951-1971) - they built our house
        Harold L Fletcher (1971-1979)
        Paul Wesley Irwin & Diane E McKay-Irwin  (1979-1999)

1865 City Directory

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Rock & Bobcat

Yesterday we got some work done in the prep for the concrete slab, but not nearly as much as we'd hoped -- because it rained!  Wet ground is much easier for bobcat tires to sink down into.

K got everything organized right in the morning -- rented a bobcat and a plate tamper, and arranged for the delivery of a bunch of Class 5 rock.  She had gotten the 3rd side of the form built within the last couple weeks, so now we needed to level and compact the ground that will be beneath the concrete slab.  The Class 5 rock was to be put on top of the soil -- it compacts together very tightly and makes a strong, dense layer.

Delivery of the Class 5 rock

K was zooming all over in the bobcat, using the shovel to scrape down the dirt.  It was a fairly small bobcat, kinda light, so it didn't quite have enough weight to really move the dirt without a few passes.  But once the rain started, the thing really sunk into the ground and the tires made deep ruts.  So I suppose it's better that it wasn't a heavier model.

Another glitch was that the plate compactor/tamper quit on us fairly early in the day.  It was working for a bit, but then the engine was quitting and wouldn't restart.  I got quite a bit of the rock compacted, but as the rain continued and the bobcat drove over it again, a bunch of the rock got churned into the ground.

Right before the compactor quit and the rain got heavier

It was a very long, grueling day.  I have no pictures from later in the day, because we were trying so hard to just get done.  We finished in the dark, after we used all the rock, and were very frustrated with our progress.   Poor K was beYOND annoyed.

Luckily, we're getting a credit from the rental place on the tamper, so we can continue and hopefully finish up in the next couple weeks.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Late Garden Harvest

It was a beautiful Sunday today.  It rained on Friday evening, and was kind of chilly yesterday, so today seemed even more lovely.  It's supposed to rain most of this week, so I guessed today would be one of the few days when I could grab the remaining herbs from my garden and work on preserving them.

Got that huge pile of catnip cut down and bundled, and grabbed some of the long stems of mint, to dry.  Then our neighbor had me come over to get some things out of their garden -- parsley, lovage, tarragon, oregano, and sage.  And lots and lots of Swiss chard, which I'm having for dinner. 

I've decided to dry the herbs in a seldom-used closet.  It's dry and it will be dark.  And I found the perfect hanging device in there -- a hanger made to hold 4 skirts or pairs of pants.  It is long, with 8 clips spaced on each level.

Bundled all those herbs with string and clipped them all on!

Now the herbs are spaced out, and not just in a thick bundle.  It's all hanging nicely in the closet.

AND, there was a nice surprise waiting for me in the garden --  The green beans grew!  We had so many plants, and they all grew thick and huge and tall!  But because they were planted so late, and were just blossoming in September, I figured we probably wouldn't have any beans.  It would get too cold before the beans could grow.  But it's been a mild autumn so far, so we have beans!

I've also picked all the little green tomatoes, and I've got those in a paper bag in the kitchen.  Maybe, hopefully, some of those will ripen up for us.