Archives for posts with tag: Shipyard Park

I live in the greatest little town on earth.

Yes I could live without the 2-hour commute to my office in Boston. Sure it’s tough to find a place to eat after 9:30 pm. Entertainment? Forget about it. And yes it would be nice if we weren’t the only gays in the village. (Little Britain reference. And for the record there are more of us.) But our village neighborhood and waterfront, in particular, are like few other places.

Walk the narrow streets where one car still needs to pull over to let another pass and you find houses, like our own, that have been here since the late 1700s, and secret gardens tucked behind picket fences. Or wander down to the town wharves on any night in the warmer months and see people sitting on large pieces of old Mattapoisett granite passing the time or watching boats come in and out of the landing. Or dare to join the group of regulars who show up most nights at dusk with their own folding chairs and take over part of one of the four wharves while they catch up on their day.

As we renovate our storefront (latest progress pic of the facade below), I decided to visit the Mattapoisett Historical Society Museum and meet with their archivist to look at photos of some of the old storefronts in town that resided both in our own house, as well as our neighbors’ here on Water Street and up and down the village’s side streets.

I’m not going to label every photo but here are a few storefronts and businesses that were once the mainstay of Mattapoisett life. Water Street and the village were certainly the commercial center of town life way back when. While much of that has moved up to Rte 6 today, hopefully our future shop will be a nod to Mattapoisett history.

Progress photo of our storefront:

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We’re still at the dirty work phase. In fact, by the looks of things, I think we’re going to be here for some time. Big loud sigh.

I should know better after so many years of projects.

Watching one whole side of the house sway back and forth in an unexpected storm back in 2000 after we’d cut away the sill and jacked up the walls and excavated down to the dirt seems like childs play to me right now.

It’s that old house “well, we won’t really know ’til we open up the walls” line of thinking that always gives me a knot in my stomach, or more accurately — knot in my wallet. This week it happens to be, “well, we won’t really know until we pull up the floor.”

The storefront walls and ceiling are pretty much gutted. And starting this past Monday, Glenn The Carpenter (GTC) started taking the floor apart. The old black and white linoleum tile floor (for the record I love original linoleum…but these had to come out to get to the floor(s) underneath), sits on top of a subfloor, which sits on top of what was probaby a gorgeous tongue & groove wood floor, which sits on top of strapping, which sits on top of the original three inch thick massive plank floor. Add 200 years worth of nails…which GTC reminds me of every time he tells me he’s had to get another new saw blade because the nails ate the last one. It’s not a good thing when he brings home a credit appication from our local hardware store and suggests I open a charge because we’re going to be shopping there often over the next few weeks.

Here are some shots Vince took today of GTC’s floor removal progress.

  

Add in new concerns about “well, we have everything opened up so let’s put some more support in the basement” and I’m wondering about this can of worms. But then I remember how this place is so much a part of us and I fall back into old-house-steward mindset.

(That steward mindset stuck around for about 5 minutes.)

Did I mention there’s the work we’re going to need to do to sure-up some of the massive ceiling timbers/joists before we even begin to think about framing the walls? Three beams/joists will need to be doubled up, or cut back a couple feet, and then we’ll create a “T”, by using some kind of bracket and as equally old looking beams to connect back to the weight bearing sill. I’ve found a blacksmith who is coming to the house on Saturday to take a look at creating some original looking brackets that can be used to make the “T”. If we weren’t exposing the ceiling beams this would not be an issue…but we are…so.

One of the three ceiling beams that will need repair/support is the one pictured below. See the brickwork inside the wall? At one point probably close to when this place was built in 1798, and John Atsatt or some other owner was using the building as a carpenter shop to assist in some part of the whaling ship building process at the shipyards in our backyard, there was a chimney in that wall connected to a fireplace or a stove in this room keeping people warm. And clearly there was some sort of fire based on that beam damage. Glass half full — I’m glad the whole place didn’t burn down.

The way I see it — it’s the same thing as if I was into restoring an old car. Or if Vince was obsessed with collecting something. We’re pretty passionate about bringing this place back to the way it was…and some day soon we’ll make the shop as strong as the rest of the house, and certainly more beautiful than it is today.

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