The Before and After photos of our renovation of the historic Jenny Lind House are quite significant. As with any old house restoration… these projects have a tendency to take on a mind of their own and the progress that you make seems like it takes an eternity. We have been slowly but surely, as the old adage goes, chipping away at bringing this beauty back to life.
I’m excited to share some of the progress that we have made, for we are finally at the phase of “putting the pretty” into the renovation. All of the structural issues and the systems have been completed, from the HVAC to new plumbing, new electrical to new structural elements and support, to current water treatment standards… we have met them all. Now it is time to dress her up!
This post is to give you a little snippet of where we are as she begins to get all of her finishing touches put into place and to reaffirm how far we have come in our own minds, for often it seems as if nothing has happened when you a tackle a project of this size.
I wrote about the history of the Jenny Lind House in detail in this prior blog post but the history that I have not delved into is the story that was taking place prior to us finding out that this beauty was available for another layer to be added onto its deep foundation.
The prior owner had housed a formal restaurant within its walls and had decorated those walls with a highly Victorian decor. While the furnishings spoke to that era well, they didn’t allow natural light into the house and had frankly, taken over the beauty of the bones of the house. Along with that, there was so much water damage that had occurred to the interior walls that nothing was salvageable with their finishes. The house was also built in the 1830’s which was prior to the fashionable Victorian style of the late 1800’s so its interiors, while high ceilinged and well decorated with its trim work, would have been much simpler.
Former Dining Room in the First Floor
Upon painstakingly scraping and peeling off all the layers of the 1980’s wallpaper (there was a large stash of extra rolls in the attic with their original packaging so the date was evident) there were no dark colors of paint underneath. In fact, all of the colors that we uncovered by this process or layers that were peeking out from the layers of peeling plaster were pale in nature.
This little find set the tone for the color palette that we are using in this renovation, which is pale and light with a few areas of a darker shade of the same color. We want the feel of the rooms to be light and airy, for the light in the upstairs is magical. It is our intent to let all of the architectural features of the house speak for themselves as well as to let the curvature of the window walls shine and be the focus rather than heavy dark paint colors and wall coverings.
This is how we are choosing the paint colors. We are testing all of the possibilities of the same color in different shades to see how the light changes them. The entire house will not be of the same colors, especially the bedrooms but we want a really cohesive feel.
The replication of the original trim work that had been pulled out or replaced over the years with inappropriate styles has been another goal of ours in the restoration and is a focus of the design.
We will be sharing much more in depth documentation of this renovation project when she is fully completed but until then, I would like to share with you snippets of the major progress thus far. We plan to continue sharing updates regularly as the completion of the Jenny Lind is our major focus as we move into the summer months.
These dark green trimmed windows are now the ones you see in the photos below in the foreground and all of the old busted and broken radiators have been pulled out to make way for the new heating system that was put in.
The fireplace below had been split in half by a newer constructed wall. Notice the hearth that was not original in the half of the fireplace that you can see.
Below the wall has been removed and the cavity of the fireplace revealed.
Wait for it….
Tada! Isn’t she beautiful fully revealed?
The restaurant used the back of the house, the late 1700’s portion as its kitchen. I felt strongly that there was something behind all of those FRP kitchen sanitation walls but had no idea that it would be this…
This revelation along with the taking down of a wall next to the fireplace in the other room revealed that there was not only one fireplace in that back space, as we knew… but two! And not only two fireplaces but two gorgeous murals that were painted during PAFA’s reign in the village in the 1920’s. (Pennsylvanias Academy of Fine Arts)
After some major stone repointing, we have revealed the beauty that lies beneath and again, we will be letting that shine in the final product.
And yes, we took out the ceiling that was above this room that you can see in the prior photos with the florescent lights hanging on it and this huge gaping hole in it. The removal of that ceiling allows the light from the small windows above to flow down and fill the room with light.
It is funny, for it struck me as I was penning this post, that when we work on the restoration of ourselves, we often do not think that we have made any progress…that our goals that we had set for ourselves have not been reached. But if we could have a visual recording of what has improved, similar to the photos that I have just posted of the progress that has been made, we’d see that our small micro steps add up to make quite a difference. In reality, we are actually much closer to reaching those goals than we ever think that we could possibly be. Sure, there have been set backs, sometimes way too many to count, but if we keep chipping away at it…
The beauty will be revealed!
Please stay tuned as we share more of this transformation in the weeks leading up to opening her doors again so that you can partake in the lightness and beauty of her transformation.
P.S. Here you can find a past blog where I elaborated on the design inspiration behind all that we are doing to bring the Jenny Lind House back to life and the images that steer us closer to her full design.