Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 4-16-17

Both feast and famine today, and the Beginning of the End for two sites.

352 N. Summit Street

When I passed yesterday, the house was apparently open, and some other people were visiting. I should have taken my chances then, as today I found it all very securely locked up. So I guess we’ll never see the plumbing fixtures in place, the remaining light fixtures and flooring installed, etc. But there had been activity outside, where the shapes of a driveway and front parking area have been outlined.

In the back, an overhang has been added over the back door and lamps installed (albeit still shrouded).

351 N. Summit Street

I lucked out again this week, finding the builder/owner on the porch “making a list.” Although there are still a few things to be done, he says they expect to move in within two weeks. At any rate, here’s a last (?) look at the interior.

In the kitchen, the Thermador range and dishwasher have been installed.

Previous photos of the sink area have not shown the open shelves that have been installed on either side of the sink.

This door, now with a handle, conceals the Thermador refrigerator.

In the powder room corridor (which must have some formal name, but I don’t know what it is), the Thermador freezer has been installed. It dispenses ice cubes, crushed ice, ice water, etc., through the door.

I also took a closer look at the Thermador microwave and steam/convection oven.

Upstairs, part of the stair landing railing has been installed. The fabricator has removed parts to be reworked because the wavy balusters were turned the wrong way (perpendicular to the straight balusters instead of parallel). U.S. building codes require a maximum of 4″ between balusters (to prevent baby heads from being able to get caught between them), and building inspectors will often bring a 4″ ball to check the distance.

In the laundry room, the Kohler laundry sink has been installed, along with a faucet with pull-out sprayer.

The Speed Queen washer has been installed; the dryer is still out on the stair landing. Both are commercial models with mechanical controls.

In the guest bath, the Kelston by Kohler sink now has a Delta Ashlyn® faucet.

The glass shower enclosure has also been installed. As previously noted, the tub fixtures are Delta’s Ashlyn Monitor.

The master bedroom has been painted dove grey, including all the closet doors.

This distinctive Lapa ceiling fan will cool the bedroom.

I had assumed that the lavatory faucets in the master bath would be from the same Brizo Siderna Collection as the shower fixtures, and Vance confirmed that they were Brizo, but in fact there are no faucets in any of the Brizo collections that match these, and these do not have any identifying marks.

The glass shower door is in place.

The glass door to the toilet room must be for symmetry only, as it certainly doesn’t provide any privacy.

The closets smell heavenly, thanks to extensive use of cypress for the fittings. A recent addition is this marble-topped unfinished cypress chest of drawers (one in each closet).

59 N. Summit Street

When I passed yesterday, workers, having completed the gables, were in the process of putting the roof on the addition. By today, it had been sheathed.

Since it appears the end wall will join the house in the middle of a window, it will be interesting to see how this works out.

Here’s the new (north) end of the extension of the house’s original core.

Since both front and back walls of that core are of concrete block (and must surely be bearing walls), it seems unlikely that they will be torn down.

On the back porch, however, new studding does seem to promise a realignment of the outer wall.

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An Iowa Treat

Oh, there’s nothing halfway
About the Iowa way to treat you,
When we treat you,
Which we may not do at all.

–“Iowa Stubborn,” Meredith Willson, The Music Man

On April 25, I will be giving a book review at the Fairhope Public Library. The subject of my review is The Most Famous Writer Who Ever Lived: A True Story of My Family, by Tom Shroder. The book is, at least in part, a biography of Shroder’s grandfather, MacKinlay Kantor, author of hundreds of short stories, essays, poems, and articles and 40 books, most of them novels, including Andersonville, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1956, and Glory for Me, which was the basis for the film, The Best Years of Our Lives, which won seven Academy Awards in 1946, became the highest-grossing film since Gone with the Wind, and is often ranked among the greatest movies of all time.

It would be impossible, I think, to read this book without wanting to read some of Kantor’s actual works, but that is not an easy task, as Kantor’s lush style has fallen out of favor with a tl;dr generation. The libraries in Baldwin County, collectively, offer only Andersonville and one other book, plus DVDs of The Best Years of Our Lives and a couple of other films based on Kantor works. As a result, I’ve had to order several of the books, used, from online bookstores, but fortunately some other publications have been digitized and made available online. One of these is Author’s Choice, a 1944 collection of 40 short stories published between 1922 and 1944. In the story “The Woman on the Roof,” published in the Chicago Daily News on April 24, 1929, I ran across this passage:

What in the world is “honon steak”? I resorted to Google, which helpfully suggested that perhaps I actually wanted to search for “Hunan steak”? (My husband made the same suggestion, but I considered this unlikely for the period.) When I firmly insisted that, no, what I really wanted to find was “honon steak” and nothing else, Google served up three results. One of them was the digitized document I already had. Another was an ad in the Daily Iowan for Sunday, March 24, 1929 (the student newspaper at the University of Iowa in Iowa City):

Whatever “honon steak” is, it’s more expensive than pork. The third hit confirms that it is beef. It was found in the June 13, 1921, issue of the Aberdeen-Angus Journal.

The accompanying article explains that this was the menu of a dinner served to breeders attending a cattle sale in Webster City, Iowa. This was evidently quite an occasion: the article reports that:

Cars were on hand in sufficient numbers to serve every desire of the visiting breeders, those who desired were taken to the fair grounds and returned at pleasure. At the close of the sale the company of cars was at the pavilion door awaiting the pleasure of the breeders. “Anywhere in particular you want to go,” asked the driver. If no chocice [sic] were designated a joy ride about the city was indulged in, all cars winding up at the Chamber rooms at 5:30, where the Young People’s Society of the United Brethren church did themselves splendid credit in serving a delightful four course dinner to the Journal’s guests, 225 covers being laid. Beautiful souvenir programs were placed at the plates.

During the seating of the visitors and all during the dinner, there was a variety of musical entertainment. The performers included Georgianna Hahne, piano, and Winnifred Hahne, drums and traps. These were presumably relatives (wife? daughters?) of Fred Hahne, editor and publisher of the Journal.

This is not insignificant: Fred Hahne was also the publisher of the Webster City Daily News, and exactly one week after this issue of the Journal was published, on July 20, 1921, Effie McKinlay Kantor would become the editor of the Daily News, having secured the employment of her son, MacKinlay Kantor, age 17, as part of the bargain. Kantor describes this experience in his commentary on the first story in the Author’s Choice collection, “Purple,” his first published story, which won a Des Moines Register short story contest and was published in that paper in 1922. Obviously, he was in the right place and at the right time to pick up reference to this entrée.

So I am no closer to knowing what “honon steak” is, but, despite the initial reference (in a story set in Chicago), I believe it may be an Iowa delicacy (certainly at least a Midwest thing) and perhaps a 1920s specialty. Possibly the University of Iowa (which has a collection of Kantor’s papers) or the Iowa State Historical Society can shed more light; I will pursue the enquiry.

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Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 4-9-17

Not a lot to report today, so I’ll start with these non–construction-related photos.

For the past few weeks, on my way to the gym, I’ve been passing this “Tardis” display on Bancroft Street, but no matter how slowly I passed, I couldn’t make out what it was supposed to be. Closer inspection yielded no further intelligence. I had thought perhaps it was intended to provide advertising space, but it doesn’t seem so (the HoneyBaked Ham sign on the wall next to it advertises the building occupant). This December 2016 Google Street View shot shows that the OSB panel is covering a former entrance/exit (and that may be a story in itself); the police box must just be pure whimsy.

352 N. Summit Street

Tile masons were at work today, so I didn’t get many photos (and completely forgot to check out the kitchen sink more carefully). Downstairs, work was ongoing in the laundry room (no photo), and the tub and skirt had been removed from the master bath to the bedroom to permit installation of the marble tile flooring in the bathroom.

In addition, the tile in the showers in the master bath (not shown) and the two upstairs baths had been grouted.

351 N. Summit Street

No lucky encounters this week, so I had to be satisfied with a couple of photos through dusty windows. This one shows the kitchen, with a Toto toilet awaiting installation (presumably in the powder room). Although I wasn’t able to get a good shot of it, the kitchen sink faucet has been installed. It is an Axor Citterio Semi-Pro Kitchen Faucet by Hansgrohe. I would think it might be more than semi-pro since the price ranges from $349 to $734.40!

This shot from the back shows the corridor leading to the powder room (which is to the left). The counter on the right, the owner tells me, will be the beverage area; there will be a wine cooler under the counter, and soft drinks and other beverages will be stored above (I think there might also have been mention of an ice water dispenser). To the right of the counter is an alcove for an upright freezer. To the left will be various appliances; Vance told me what they would be, and, although I don’t recall all of them, they include a microwave and another oven (which may be what has been installed).

59 N. Summit Street

This week’s developments include changes in the roof line, including a gable for the entry and another for the left portion of the addition.

As seen, the new higher roof will not extend all the way to the end of the house.

This shot of the gutted interior raises many questions. The owner was onsite, I think, and I was going to ask her about what the plan was, but I couldn’t locate her. Perhaps next week.

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Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 4-2-17

I’m fortunate this week to have at least a little to report on each of my current study sites.

352 N. Summit Street

When I visited yesterday, I was stopped by this sign on one of the French doors.

So I wandered around back and found that, although the front of the garage still hasn’t been painted, carriage lamps have been mounted at the sides.

Today I returned and gingerly trod the presumably dry first coat. As can be seen from the photo below, all the plumbing fixtures had to be cleared out of the living-dining room—indeed up off all the floors, and I found them distributed all around the house. Most of the lavatory faucets were in the back upstairs bedroom. The three toilets (which are the Drake model from Toto) had been split up, one each in the other two upstairs bedrooms, and one in the master closet.

There is still no toilet for the powder room, nor has the pedestal sink been delivered, but its floor has been finished along with the rest.

In the kitchen, as promised, I further investigated the sink. I got so engrossed in scoping it out that I neglected to take a photo of the overall sink counter, and I didn’t get a very good photo of the sink itself, either (even after removing the plumbing boxes that filled it). From the markings on the bottom of it, however, I established that it is a Blanco Silgranit® sink, probably the Precis model in metallic gray.

Beside the sink was the unopened InSinkErator® Badger 5 garbage disposal.

Under the sink are a few things you don’t always find under a sink: a switch and a plug. I can only assume that these are for the disposal, which is available in a plug-in model.

But this “under the sink” photo from the InSinkErator site certainly seems to show a lot more paraphernalia than the wired-in Badger 15 under our sink!

In the master bath, the tub skirt had been removed to the shower area to make room for the tub itself, a Jason Hydrotherapy MicroSilk® AirMasseur® tub, forma® AC635 model (see this previous post for photos of both skirt and tub). The vanity light fixtures had also been removed (packed back in their original shipping boxes), perhaps for safety while the tub was being maneuvered or perhaps to facilitate painting (many of the rooms seemed to have fresh paint, and two of the light fixtures in the upstairs hall had also been removed).

The flooring in the upstairs hall has finally been completed. None of the upstairs bedrooms has any flooring yet, leading me to assume that they will be carpeted.

None of the tile in any of the bathrooms has been grouted, but grout has been delivered to the upstairs hall bath.

A couple of shots of the “vessel” sink in the en suite bath. It was actually still in the counter under the counter, but I put it in place for these photos. The faucet (box seen on the counter beside it) is Delta’s Ara® Single Handle Vessel Lavatory Faucet with Channel Spout.

It will be interesting to see what the coming week brings. The floor appears to me to need another coat (as implied by the description of this treatment as “1st coat), but perhaps some of the plumbing fixtures will be installed?

351 N. Summit Street

As I approached the house from across the street, these three young trees struck me as new.

I can’t swear that they were newly planted, but they are certainly different from the four shrubs that were in this location in December.

As I approached the house, I found that the owners were onsite, relaxing on the (to be) screened porch. I was allowed to go in and take a few quick photos (a quicker tour than I would have liked, but they had a date to collect some grandchildren). The chief accomplishment this week was installation of the counters, as here in the kitchen, with sink and space for slide-in range.

This is the sink counter in the laundry room upstairs.

Here are the dressing table, one of the vanities (with the Kelston by Kohler sink), and the tub surround in the master bath, all in white marble.

59 N. Summit Street

Okay, so not a front porch after all!

It’s hard to tell from these photos, but the addition is divided into two sections, each of which will apparently be an extension of an existing room.

The slab in the back may still be for a patio, but framing inside the existing room, plus the dismantling of siding on the outside, suggests that this, too, may be an extension.

Approaching the house from the opposite direction today, I grabbed this shot of the other end of the addition—the end opposite the chimney, away from Atkinson Avenue—seen behind the roof of the original structure (behind the tree at the far left is the edge of a neighbor’s roof).

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Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 3-26-17

I’ll start with a pretty picture so my Facebook readers will have something to “like” even if they don’t click through to read the whole blog post.

“Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough…”

352 N. Summit Street

Today’s report is mostly one of promise. For example, this stack of boxes represents the future of several bathrooms. I’m not quite sure why, in a house with 3½ baths, there are only three toilet tanks, three toilet bowls, and three toilet seats, but I suppose time will tell.

On top of the toilet boxes are numerous boxes of Delta tub, shower, and lavatory fixtures. I made a note of all the stock numbers so that I can identify the fixtures when they are installed, but I won’t bore you with them now. One fixture that has been installed is the Leland® Single Handle Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet. This is kind of interesting because the “single handle” is separate from the faucet.

The sink will also have a Delta Soap / Lotion Dispenser and Bottle. Although this product was clearly made (and labeled) in China, the “sindle handle” faucet and a “linear tub drian” claimed to be “assembled in the US with domestic and foreign components.”

It wasn’t until I looked at my photos of the kitchen faucet that I realized that, even when I took this photo last week, I hadn’t registered that the sink (and sink counter), which had been missing the previous week, had been installed. I’ll take a closer look next week and report.

351 N. Summit Street

No photos this week, but I did manage to ascertain that the (still uninstalled) lavatory sinks are Kelston by Kohler.

59 N. Summit Street

Moisture barrier and concrete reinforcing mesh have been added to the porches. A recent rain has contributed moisture and leaves; will these be left in place when the concrete is poured?

Most of the work this week, however, has been in the rear addition, where windows and doors have been installed.

As seen from the back, it is clear that there will be a second-floor porch/balcony.

Some of the original rooms of the house have been closed off during construction.

This rear den is still in use.

The new staircase has been constructed in this den. The door to the right leads to the closed-off area shown in the photo two above.

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Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 3-19-17

Just a few photos today—mostly incremental progress.

352 N. Summit Street

This week’s reconnaissance was primarily to check on issues I’d neglected to note last week, but there were a few changes (light bulbs, mostly), and there was this one thing that was entirely new: replacing the stack of empty boxes in the dining room was the master bathroom tub.

The shell of the tub has been installed in the master bath.

Light bulbs had been added to the light fixtures in the kitchen. Here’s a close-up photo of the Morgan chandelier (the second one has not yet been hung).

Over the sink, a third pendant fixture had been added. I have now identified the fixture as Williamson by Mercury Row. Here’s a close-up shot of one of them, showing that it uses a “half-chrome” or “silver-bowl” light bulb (although the fixture calls for a G9 halogen bulb).

No bulbs in this fixture yet, but revisiting it confirmed my suspicion that it does in fact have three bulb sockets (both my photos last week showed only two, but the arrangement was so odd that I was dubious). This is one of the pendant bedside lights in the master bedroom.

I am still at a loss to explain the location of the Feiss 3-light LED vanity fixture (box seen pictured here). There is not yet any lighting in the half-bath, but a Feiss 1-light LED sconce was marked for that location.

I had thought the three-light fixture might be in the en suite bathroom (which I had neglected to check last week), but in fact what is there is a pair of Feiss Sophie wall brackets.

The countertop has also been installed in this bathroom, and it is clear from the drilling that it will have a “vessel” sink: a glass, china, stone, or metal bowl that rests on top of the granite counter.

A close-up of one of the sconces in the hall bath reveals that it is not the Leddington model reported last week, but I have not been able to identify the model.

In the “break room,” still in the box, is the “bar faucet” that will be installed for the small sink.

Behind the countertop, the molding at the top of the shiplap has been removed, and there is a space of an inch or so between the countertop and the wall, suggesting that perhaps a granite backsplash will be dropped in.

351 N. Summit Street

Through one of the living room windows, I could see (but not satisfactorily photograph) a stack of boxes containing undermount sinks, no doubt destined for the bathrooms, and Delta faucets, ditto (plus the kitchen sink). But the development that I could actually see was heightened security: locksets added to the front and side doors.

Here’s a close-up of the lockset on one of the doors from the breakfast room opening onto the screened porch.

When I stopped by yesterday, I encountered a family who had taken advantage of the empty driveway to park for the Arts & Crafts Festival. Since they were also peering through windows, he introduced himself as “the painter.” I gave him my card, and he fished for one of his, came up empty, and pointed to his sign. I said I’d given him a plug once before but would do so again. His company is T.J.’s Quality Painting, and I assume that he was owner T. J. Foreman, whose Facebook cover photo actually shows this house.

59 N. Summit Street

When I passed on Friday, workers were shoveling in and smoothing down this fill, as seen here on Saturday.

Lagniappe: Street Repair

I meant to report on this last week and forgot. For quite some time I have been occasionally taking photos of the terrible condition of the pavement at the corner of Bayview Street and North Avenue. Here’s an example from last July.

Whenever it rained, that low spot would fill up with water, creating a pool that entirely blocked the road, as in these photos from last September and August. I joked that at least the water drained off fairly rapidly because the street was so cracked and pitted.

Because the Bluff Neighborhood is essentially a large cul de sac (and consequently has little traffic), it is a popular area for walkers, runners, and bikers, who must all have been frustrated by these conditions. I kept meaning to post these photos on the City’s Facebook page but hadn’t gotten around to it. So imagine my surprise when I went out last weekend and saw that the pavement had been patched. It is yet to be seen whether this will remedy the drainage problem, but at least it’s an improvement.

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Bluff Neighborhood Construction Report 3-12-17

Not a marathon today, but there are some interesting developments.

352 N. Summit Street

The story here this week is counters and lighting. In the foyer, these sconces have been installed. Not unsurprisingly, given that the builder is the same, they are the same style as the sconces in the living room and hall at 251 N. Bayview (Lorraine Architectural Railing Sconce from Restoration Hardware), though these have a different finish (Aged Steel rather than Rustic Iron). I see now, too, that they have (when complete) a shade, not just the exposed bulbs.

Here’s a close-up of the notice visible in the photo above, instructions for the placement of “dinner” switches (in some places where it wouldn’t have occurred to me that mood lighting would be desirable).

This pile of boxes in the dining room attests to the number of lights and fans that have been installed during the past week. I took close-up photos of many of them for reference, as an aid to finding the corresponding fixtures online.

Here’s one designated for the closet in Bedroom #2 (the center bedroom), which I didn’t think to check out.

In the kitchen, some of the granite countertop has been installed, and most of the light fixtures have been hung. The chandelier over the island (one of two to be installed) is a Morgan from Capital Lighting.

The island countertop has been marked for installation of the cooktop.

In the pantry, the second Morgan chandelier awaits installation. On the ceiling is the Heath Flushmount from Restoration Hardware.

In the sunroom, the two-blade Quorum Turner fan in Persian White, and a better glimpse of one of the pendant lights (with milk-glass shade) over the sink counter.

A Leddington single-light sconce by Feiss was designated for the half-bath (powder room). If it had been installed, I did not notice it; none of the other fixtures (pedestal sink, toilet) have been installed there.

It’s probably not too much of a stretch to guess that a king-size bed will be placed between these two pendant lights in the master bedroom. As can be seen in the close-up, they will hold two bulbs and presumably will be shaded, perhaps something like this.

In the master bath, another granite countertop, with an undermount Kohler sink that I believe is the Archer model. The light fixtures are the Sutton Grand Sconce from Restoration Hardware.

Upstairs, in the “break room,” another Heath Flushmount light fixture and a small stainless steel sink in the granite countertop.

The sconce in the break room is the same as these seen in the stairwell and hall: the Denton Narrow Sconce Tall from Restoration Hardware (with the Weathered Zinc finish).

In Bedroom #2 (the center bedroom), the Sundance fan from Minka Aire.

In Bedroom #4 (the back bedroom), the Rudolph fan from Minka Aire.

In Bedroom #3 (the front bedroom), the Hunter 1886 Limited Edition in Midas Black. All these rooms have recessed “can” lighting at the corners, so there will be no lights under the fans.

In the upstairs bath, a granite countertop and oval undermount sink, plus two more of the Leddington single sconces (I’m not sure what the mysterious markings indicate). There was also a box from a three-light Leddington sconce, which I did not see, but it occurred to me belatedly that I had completely forgotten to look in the en suite bath (adjacent to Bedroom #2), so perhaps it is there.

As I was leaving, I checked out these unopened boxes containing Palmetto Street lanterns from The Coppersmith designated for the front porch.

The specs indicate that it will be the gas rather than the electric model.

351 N. Summit Street

I was unable to get inside today, but I couldn’t see any noticeable changes. Outside, however, there was a development. Last week I said that “the two potted trees that I was worrying about seem to have disappeared.” I was worrying about them because it seemed like they’d sat around in pots for quite a long time without being planted. Today when I arrived, there they were, just where their pots had originally been placed (they were later moved to the driveway).

Had they been there last week and I missed them? That would be embarrassing. But no, as this photo of that location last week clearly shows, I hadn’t missed them because they weren’t there.

On the other hand, this photo from December 24 also clearly shows that the potted trees that had stood for months in the driveway are not the same ones that have been planted, so apparently there was a change of plan.

59 N. Summit Street

The front porch has been framed with concrete blocks.

Progress has been made on the addition, and the gutting of the interior is complete (staircase and loft removed).

In the back, the frame for another porch, patio, or addition.

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