Pocket Door Detectives

Before we move on from Old School,  I want to tell the (long) tale of the Pocket Door Saga.

See, we had these beautiful pocket doors with original hardware that separated the dining room from the bedroom in the main level apartment of the house.  The people we bought the house from, whose 90 year old father had lived there since 1965, and whose grandmother had lived there before that, never remembered them being used!  As far as we know, they had been stowed away in the walls for the last 50-70 years!  Gah!  What a waste!

When we tried to shut the doors, one side glided perfectly, but the other door did not.  This needed to be fixed, because the pocket doors separated the bedroom from living areas of the 1 bedroom apartment.  BUT HOW???  As far as Lance could tell, the only way to get the door down to be worked on would be to take off the trim/ knock a hole in the wall… which we DID NOT want to do.

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The problem door.  Notice how something has been gouging the woodwork as it slid 😦

It was then that I gave thanks for the wonderful World Wide Web.  For it is there, on Ross’s blog, I had read about his similar battle with his beloved pocket doors.  And I remembered that there existed someone who could help me.  Stephen, based out of Boston, is an expert in the art of fixing pocket doors, and was remarkably willing to help us via a LOOOOOONG series of emails and text messages.

When I say long, I do mean looooooooooooooooooooooong. Over about a week or more, he and lance were in almost continual contact trying to figure out how to release the broken pocket door from the grips of the mechanism that held it in place.

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We took a million photos like this, trying to get to the bottom of the problem.

Essentially, the drama escalated because what Stephen assumed was the hanger that we had was not what it actually was, and so his advice didn’t work for us… at first.  Finally, Lance turned the flashlight on his phone, stuck it up into the pocket door abyss and waved it around with the video camera recording who-knows-what.  It was through these videos that Stephen caught a glimpse of a small decorative detail on the hanger that told him exactly what kind of hanger we had.  It was a rare hanger, but he knew (because he KNOWS these things) what we needed to do to get the pocket door released from this particular hanger.  After he gave Lance the necessary instructions, and after Lance bought a telescoping magnet to help him, the pocket door was fixed and gliding like butter!

Our elusive hanger… it’s a “Scissor type!”

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Now, ISN’T THAT AMAZING????

Know what else is cool?  The pocket door at our own residence has the same hanger.  Which is kind of amazing, and yet not that amazing, since our house was built 1 year before Old School, is a half block away, and Sioux Falls was a small town that probably had  a limited number of pocket-door hardware suppliers.  But thinking about that gives me a little thrill.

I am so grateful for other old house bloggers (Ross is one of the best) and especially for Stephen.  Without them, I’m not sure what we would have done.

And now, for your reading pleasure, I wanted to share one of the last email correspondences between the Pocket Door Detectives.

“Hi. As a result of watching your video where the camera was overhead the tracks!! … I see that you do not have the hedgehog hanger, but have instead this ‘scissor type’ E. C. Stearns cast iron hanger.

Same time frame, of course.

There must be a better way for me to describe this hanger, having parallel articulated arms? Can you

think of how to describe that assembly?

Anyway, the point is – that this hanger was fitted out/was designed in a way that … there is no
internal threading built into the hanger body! Instead the internal threads … where we want the adjustment screw to go … are found in a crosswise nut.

In today’s parlance, a crosswise nut is known as a ‘barrel nut.’ And this is used widely in

knock-down furniture. 🙂

SO, the reason you were no able to find any internal threads … when you were extending your 5/16″ threaded rod is – apparently the crosswise nut has fallen out.

I WILL HAVE TO LOOK AT THE VIDEO AGAIN, but I did see the parallel articulated arms briefly in the video

The next thing is for me to go back and see if I see the crosswise nut.

Good going on the video! (Breakthrough in the hunt!)”

I so appreciate people who are passionate about what they do, and Stephen is one of those people.  Thanks, Stephen!

An apartment for rent

We have finished the main level of Old School and it is ready to receive its first tenant next week!

Would you like a tour?

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The outside entrance.  Clearly it is not perfect, or in its finished state.  But it is stable.  The porch floor is level and we put in new boards where needed.  We removed two layers of cement board and fiber board siding.  In the Spring, we will paint and make more repairs.  For now, I just scrubbed the porch siding to get all the dirt off and it made a huge difference!

The Kitchen

Before: The kitchen had dated 70s lighting, 5o year old red carpeting (!!!), grimy cabinets, and quality, yet dated appliances.

What we did:  Paint the walls and soffit, replace the sconces with $20 Menards sconces, scrub the cabinets and hardware, replace leaky faucet, put in Craigslist dishwasher, spray paint chandelier “oil-rubbed bronze, and refinish the floors.  We kept the appliances for now, for budgetary reasons.

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The Bathroom

I’m sorry I don’t have a before picture for this room!  Honestly, I think its because it was so gross.  The fact that it had 50 year old red carpeting in it should tell you all you need to know.

Here is what we did:  Refinished floors, painted the walls BM “Edgecomb Grey” and the cabinets BM “Simply White.”  We got new pulls for the cabinets too.  We got a simple sink from Habitat for Humanity Restore.  We cleaned up the original tub and put subway tile on the walls of a shower.  We got a new toilet (duh!).  We put up salvaged fixtures with school house shades.  I think the result is clean, fresh and simple.

 

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The sconce in this photo was found in the basement of the house next to ours.  It had been sitting in box below a leaky pipe for a long time and was really rusted.  I scrubbed the fixture with steal wool and spray painted it with Rustoleum.  The white shade was also very discolored with rust, and it didn’t come out when I washed it.  I let it soak overnight in diluted CLR and all the rust disappeared!

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The Bedroom

Before:

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This room just required painting, refinishing the floors and a new light fixture.  The fixture that was in here only had a pull chain- no switch.  We decided to put in a ceiling fan, and use the remote as the light switch!

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The Dining and Living Rooms:

Before:

The rooms had faux-wood paneling, red carpet and 1970s fixtures.

After:

We painted, refinished the floors, cleaned and put in antique lights that my husband rewired.  The walls and the windows make the room.

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This was a lot of work, and we have often reflected that most of what we have done is take things OUT of the house.  Carpet, lights, dirt, garbage, random stuff, etc, etc.  The house is slowing starting to resemble the beauty she originally was built to be.  I can’t wait to see her enjoyed as a home again.

Thanksgiving at Home

The Fall of 2016 continues to move ahead at break-neck speed.  I cannot believe that Christmas is now a month away.

Today we took a little breather and put our own house back together.  Cleaned it, rearranged furniture in a couple of rooms, hung up that clock that fell off the wall a couple weeks ago, etc.

We did this because we got to host Thanksgiving this year.  It felt good to put our old house to use and to fill it with warmth, good food, laughter and thankfulness.  We put the extra leaves in the dining room table, got out the silver and the china and set up a kid’s table in the kitchen.   It felt like the house rose to the occasion.  It felt like it was saying, “this is what I am here for.  I exist to provide shelter and nourishment to the ones you love.  To create memories.  To look pretty.  To give you a place to rest.”

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Happy Thanksgiving!  Thanks for visiting!

Busy

I don’t even know where to begin with all that has been going down around this place.  We have been working HARD doing things like pouring porch footings, scrubbing tobacco residue off of popcorn ceiling, tearing up carpeting, pulling thousands of staples and throwing away piles of trash.  My mind spins all day long, trying to prioritize and balance our housing deadlines with my 2 other jobs, and my 3 kids.  My body aches at night, and I have lost weight, I think because there isn’t as much time to eat.  This has been rough.  It has also been fun.  Little by little, we are loving these houses back to life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next we painted the faux wood paneling.  We don’t have time to see what is underneath… for now, the paneling stays.  The color we chose is “Dorian Grey” by Sherwin Williams.  PS- check out these vent covers!!!


Could the paneling be doing any LESS for these windows?

  

In other news, I lugged my vacuum upstairs one day and realized I COULD NOT vacuum the ugly stained shag carpeting one more time.  My husband had told be to absolutely NOT tear up the carpeting until we had time to address the mess that was likely to be under it.  I considered this.  Then I just tore up one tiny corner to see what was underneath.  Then I tore it all up. 


Is it in rough shape?  Kind of.  Is it better than the carpeting?  ABSOLUTELY. 

Back at Old School, we indulged ourselves in the luxury of paying someone to refinish the wood floors (this is getting EXCITING!)  Note: the main entry living room has wider planks than all of the other rooms (even the kitchen and bedrooms).  WHY??

 

We still need to paint kitchen and bath, tile the shower, find a new sink and dishwasher, hang new (salvaged) light fixtures and get the new furnace put in, but THEN, hopefully by Dec 1, someone will be enjoying this lovely space (and paying us for the pleasure!)

 PS- if you are tired of waiting for me to post updates on all of our rehab schenanigans, you can “like” my facebook page- “The Harrison Delong House.”  I usually post updates there a couple times a week!

 

Catching up on Old School

When we moved onto this street 3 years ago, we had no idea that not only would we soon be taking care of not only our beloved Queen Anne, but also 3 other old houses on our block.  This spring, we joined together with my sister and brother-in-law to purchase our first of what will (next month!)  be three rental homes.  All three were built as single family homes, but were converted between 100 to 50 years ago into apartments.

A little while ago, I introduced you to what we now call “Old School.”  “Old School” because right now, it looks like some sort of creepy, run-down frat house.

Here is Old School a week ago:

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This is the day that we cut down the ginormous willow tree in the front yard.  Willow trees are my favorite, but not when they are planted so close to the house that it touches the porch and causes it to rot.  And we found out today, when the stump was ground out that it was rotten in the center, so eventually it would have come down anyway, and could have taken part of the house with it.  Good riddance!

Inside of Old School, we have been busy demoing.  We decided to remove the attic access stairs, in order to enlarge the living room, and also because we didn’t want renters to have access to the attic.  We will patch the floors with old fir, and add an access door to the attic in the ceiling.

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We also opened up the wall between the living room and kitchen.  The “living room” was originally just the upstairs foyer.  It is much more living room sized now without the stairs and with this wall opened up.

 

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Once and a while, we come across a treasure, like this unused compact of Coty rouge… I think possibly from the 30s/40s.  It was found in a vent- I am sure some lady 70 years ago was pretty ticked she lost her brand new rouge!

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While all of this has been fun, it hasn’t come close to the fun we have had the last two evenings outside.

Here is an original picture of the house:  Note the porch pillars/ railing.

Wow- a whole lot of detail was covered up, wasn’t it?  Not how the original fancy pillars were replaced with square, boring ones.  Also notice how the 3rd upstairs window disappeared.  And don’t get me started on the missing railing.

But last night… and major discovery:

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The pillars are. still. there.   !!!!!!!

And then another one:

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The original clapboards are still there… and are in immaculate shape!  (At least under the protection of the porch roof).

 

Well, needless we were inspired and started tearing into it:

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Eeeek!  The trim is there too!  And, based on paint inside the windows, we can confirm that this is the original color scheme!

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We also found this aqua molding piece-  could this be an original color as well?  It seems odd…

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It still looks img_5193

It still looks pretty rough, but I really do feel that with every piece of old siding we remove, we are bringing new life to this tired old house.

Finishing touches: porch skirting

I have yet to post any official “AFTER” pictures of our exterior, because, well it wasn’t DONE.  But now it is, because we finally got around to the porch skirting.  If you’d like to read more about why porch skirting is SO IMPORTANT, please read  this:

Here is the oldest photo we have of our house, fromt he 1940’s.  Please note the decorative “skirt” below the porch

Miraculously, the skirting was still in place when we purchased the house, but in disrepair (duh.. it was 125 years old!)

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A closer look:

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We needed to replace three sections of skirting.  Of course, all were different lengths, and each section started at one width, and ended at another, due to the natural slope of the ground that the house sits on.  This called for some geometry.  And so I called my husband.

 

He told me about it once… something about measuring the diameter of the circles, keeping them at the same distance from the edge of the frame, dividing the S curve into quarters, and keeping that curve the same width as the circles… anyway.. here’s a picture of it:

IMG_5050Anyhoo… they turned out pretty great.

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As you can see, this kind of work is best done on a sunny day, in your garage and with a cold beverage of your choosing.  Of course the beverage is sitting on a randome vintage farmhouse sink.  If you are a real old house person, you will have one of these taking up space in your garage.

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If possible, have your dad and 6 year old do the painting.

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The old and the new.  Both beautiful.  Of course, I am saving the old.  After 127 years, I was not going to be the one to throw them in the landfill.  They will wait up in the attic for the next someone to discover them and marvel at their age and design.

And now, for some after pictures.  You are seeing 18 months worth of painting, a new roof, new cedar shake siding, new tuck pointing, and NEW (historically accurate) PORCH SKIRTING!

 

One more look at Before… Spring 2014image

After… Summer 2016IMG_5030IMG_5028IMG_5034

      Our New Old House

A month or so ago, we were presented with the opportunity to purchase a house on our block in need of new owners.  The current owner was very ill and unable to care for it any longer.  We saw this as a great opportunity to restore another home in our neighborhood, and also the potential for income, as it has been a duplex for some time, and we would keep it as such.

 

Here is the house in the 1940s:

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It was built in 1890, I year after ours.  I love to imagine our house, fresh and new in 1890, and just down the street, ground being broken on this one.

Here is the house now:

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You will see many, many details missing, or covered up.  However, the gable fretwork remains, much to my delight.  When we first moved to the neighborhood, 2 years ago, I would run by this house and marvel at this detail.  “This house used to be something beautiful…” I thought to myself.  And it was.  And it will be.

 

Here are a few shots of the downstairs:

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The walls are all covered in paneling!  The house underwent a renovation in the 70s, and has not changed since.  There is orange carpeting in EVERY room.. yes, even in the bathroom and kitchen.

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If you can see past the paneling and the carpeting, this place has a lot of potential.  There are 3 huge picture windows in the living/dining areas

 

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The window in the kitchen is non-original, but I do love it.  It lets in wonderful light, and gives a great view of the huge backyard.

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Other than a new floor and paint, there isn’t a lot we will do to the kitchen.  Probably some new pulls for the cupboard.

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Stained glass in the bedroom.

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The view from the landing upstairs.

And here are some shots of the upstairs, where we will be spending our time for now.

 

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The upstairs has been an apartment for a very long time, but no one has lived here for many, many years.. maybe decades.  Check out this vintage kitchen!

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And a gross vintage bath complete with disgusting red carpet!

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You can imagine that the first thing we did was yank up that nasty carpet.  Underneath- gorgeous fir planks.

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This was so cool.  This was a hidden closet in one of the bedrooms.  It had 2 large closests, and this one was under a curtain.  I didn’t even see it the first time we looked at the house.  When I did notice it and opened the door, I felt like I was the first person to do so in at least 50 years.  It appears this closet used to be a kitchen!

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The larger of the two bedrooms- I love the light in this place.

 

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The largest bedroom had asbestos linoleum under the carpet.  We plan on getting salvaged fir to match the rest of the house

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Another bedroom- also very good sized.  The owner collected 70s lighting!  This is just a little bit of what I found in one closet!

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A look at the floors in the kitchen.. they are so beautiful!  We plan on refinishing them.

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There was some water damage in the kitchen from an old, leaky roof.  Lucky for us, there is a new roof and no more water damage.

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I just love uncovering the layers of walpaper

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Our reward… uncovering the lost window.  We knew that there had been a 3rd window on the front of the house, but were not sure in what state we would find it.  We are so excited to take off the ugly siding and to show the neighborhood what we found!

The Butler’s Pantry: Adding Color

When I checked my stats today, I noticed some unusual activity… instead of my usual 5-10 views/day, I was having 200-400 views!  A quick look at my referrers showed me that Country Living was somehow involved, and then I saw that I had been included in this article!  http://www.countryliving.com/real-estate/news/g3530/8-old-house-renovation-blogs-you-need-to-follow/

I am very honored to be included with the 7 other amazing blogs.  To think that the Chateau de Gudanes and my little Queen Anne Cottage are included in any sort of list together is pretty hilarious!

If you are new to My Queen Anne, welcome!  I hope you enjoy learning about what we have done, are doing, and will do to beautify our little corner of the world.

 

Now, where were we.  The butler’s pantry.  Paint.

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When it came time to paint the butler’s pantry, my 6 year old said, “I’d be happy to help you paint, mom!  Because, you know, the more the merrier!”  Ummm… I’m not sure that saying pertains to painting your butler’s pantry with your kiddo…

 

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We continued the colors from our kitchen into the Butler’s Pantry.  On the walls:  Frostwork, from Sherwin William’s Historical Collection.  Woodwork:  Spotswood Teal, from Benjamin Moore’s Williamsburg collection.

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The view from my stove when everything was cleaned up.  Oh, how I love this little room.  Also, I was shocked at how nice my old basic gas stove looks!  Almost makes me think twice about wanting to upgrade… almost.

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As you can see from the daffodils, this picture was taken in the Spring… months ago!  We have not been able to finish this room yet- when the weather warmed up, our projects called us outside. 

Since April, we have added two, TWO more historic houses to our lives, in addition to the one we already have, and of course our careers and 3 kids.  Life has been busy, to say the least and we have had to learn how to balance it all.  An important lesson to learn in all that is that these old houses have waited over a century for us.  Their decline has been slow.  They will wait a little longer.  Our kids, on the other hand, need us every day.  The way they change is fast and unrelenting.  As much as possible, we choose them over the old houses that we love so well.  And so, the butler’s pantry can wait for its quarter round and new electrical outlets.  It’s summer vacation- and I have three amazing kids to play with!

The floors

IMG_0866This picture shows what we were dealing with when it came time to finish the floors in the butler’s pantry.  The boards in the bottom half of the photo are in the adjacent powder room.  The narrower planks are what we found in the butler’s pantry.  Curious that they were laid at the same time, in close proximately to each other, and yet a different size plank was used. I assume that the powder room, having more casual wide planks, had a more lowly purpose than the pantry?  At the very top of the photo you can see the linoleum and subfloor that had been in place, probably since the 1990s.

When we were removing part of the cabinets to modify it for a desk (more to come on that), we found 2 layers of very old linoleum!!!  What a fun discovery.  This was not only exciting because we got to see they decorating materials from decades past, but it gave us evidence that the built in cabinet was not original.  For this floor was found completely encased in the cabinet- there would be no reason to lay floor here- in fact it would have been impossible.

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Once the planks were sanded, we were very pleased with how they looked.

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The finished result after 2 coats of satin polyurethane:

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Getting Started in the Butler’s Pantry

The first thing we needed to do was repair a bit of ceiling that had been damaged by water- both before and after we owned the house.  Most recently, when we remodeled the upstairs bath and moved the tub into the closet, there was a miniscule leak, that after 2 WEEKS finally saturated the dry wall enough to begin to drip onto the butler’s pantry floor.  THAT was NOT a fun discovery.  We decided that the odds of having water issues with both the toilet and tub directly above were pretty high, and so we cut access panels into the ceiling board. IMG_3888

Next, we began to strip the butler’s pantry cabinetry.  We used a heat gun- it worked great!!  I was extremely cautious with it- never leaving it plugged in when not in use.IMG_3889We are not positive what the wood is. We thought it would be pine, but it seemed lighter than expected… maybe it is poplar?

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What a mess.

We are also not sure what the orignial finish of the cabinets was.  When removing the original hinges, we found this finish underneath.  Maybe it was milk paint or pickling? IMG_1056

The other suprise was that underneath a laminate cover, the original beadboard back-splash was in place.  I had no idea this was there!  I love how even when you think you know every inch of a house, it still has suprises waiting for you.IMG_3931

I used a putty knife pry the laminate off and then the heat gun to melt the old glue.  It worked great.IMG_4011

Next on the list was stripping the cabinet hardware.  It looked like there were at least 3-4 layers of paint on them.  We gave them a soak in the crock pot and the paint came right off.

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The hinge on the right shows what we thought was the original finish.  Kind of a cheap gold color.  We were disappointed.  But after scrubbing with steel wool, it became clear that this was also a paint job!  The orignial finish is shown on the hinge to the left.IMG_4060

So much better.  Now, why would you ever want to paint this???IMG_4062