House Tour: Our Scary Basement

Almost two years ago, I wrote a series of posts about cleaning and organizing the basement. I did not want to take you back down here, but one of our faithful readers asked me to (Hi Ame!), and it relates to yesterday’s post about our summer project.

There are no new photos of the workroom, but it still functions very well as an at-home hardware store. With everything organized and accessible, it is easy to shop at home first and put items away when we finish using them.

Today’s post is primarily about the side of the basement that gets wet. Fortunately, the work room, which is on the opposite side of the basement, stays nice and dry.

Stone Foundations

Pre-WWI, it was very common for houses to sit atop stone foundations. I found an excellent article by restoration consultant and home inspector, William Kibbel. I encourage you to read the article. He explains in-depth, the different types of stone foundations. He also supports DIY maintenance which is right up our alley. I am doing some additional research on stone foundations right now, and I will discuss them more in-depth on our first podcast episode.

During my research for our drainage and landscaping project, I was surprised by how many companies recommended that we eventually remove the stone foundation here at BHH. They felt like this type of construction was destined to fail over time. I call BS on that, and we are choosing to ignore the advice to “upgrade”. This giant house has set on its stone foundation for over 130 years. We call that success. That said, we still need to educate ourselves and keep up on the maintenance. BHH will not thrive on neglect.

Let’s Take a Look at Our Creepy Basement

You are cordially invited to be terrified by our creepy basement. Take a good look at the stone foundation while you are here.

Dead center of this photo is our heater. It is a dual forced-air unit, and it works like a charm. To the right, you may notice the wet floor. This moisture and seepage is the primary area of concern. Phase I that I described yesterday should remedy the problem.

To the left of the heater is the only dirt floor portion in the basement. On very rainy days, that dirt section fills up completely with rain runoff. Fortunately, the heater is up off the floor on cement blocks.

On the far left what looks like a fireplace is actually an ash dump. The dining room fireplace is directly above it, one floor up.

Here is better view the wet floor. It is not terrible, but it is a vulnerability that we need to fix.

On the same side of the house, at the opposite end is another full room. We use it as our primary storage.

The Main Storage Room

At one time, this was a finished room for an unknown purpose. There was beadboard on the framework on the right side. The stone foundation is behind it. On the beadboard ceiling, there are about a million acoustic tile clips.

All of the “upgrades” were gone when we moved into BHH. On the other side of the room, there is evidence of water damage. We suspect that this room was disassembled due to that issue. In March, during the spring deluge, water poured in on the right side, and we moved all of our junk to the left. That is why this room is such a mess in these photos.

Here is a closer look at the fireplace. Someone painted zebras on it, so perhaps it was a playroom. Dorothy and her husband did not have children which means this artwork was probably pre-Dorothy.

The basement fireplace is the first in a triple-decker series. The living room fireplace is above it, one floor up, and the master bedroom fireplace is above it, two floors up.

Here is the view in the opposite direction.

Please do not mention orbs or ectoplasmic mist. As far as I am concerned, that is dust and the glare from the flash. (I am easily spooked. Therefore, I am staying in denial. Just let me have this.)

The Place We Never Go

I saved the best for last. And by best, I mean the creepiest. None of us ever set foot in this room unless we have to for some reason, and I cannot think of a reason. Because our readers mean a lot to us, I opened the door, screwed in the light bulbs “righty tighty” so the fixtures would work, and took these photos.

It is arguably the first world’s worst bathroom!

This bathroom is on the same side of the house as the leaks, and the wallboard is slightly damp.

In true Victorian/Colonial fashion, this bathroom has some fancy features.  First, notice the Art Deco sconces. No doubt they are later additions since BHH pre-dates Art Deco.

Next, check out the marble sink vanity. Yes, marble! In the basement. Take a moment to let that sink in. No pun intended.

Honestly, I cannot imagine a scenario in which we use or update this bathroom. As far as I am concerned, it does not exist. However, I may scavenge that sink for an upstairs upgrade. Currently, we have two marble sink vanities upstairs. One is in the half bath on the first floor, and the other one is in the main upstairs bathroom.

Now, let’s get out of here. This place gives me the creeps.

I will admit that it is a luxury to have a full-sized, usable basement. Also, because previous owners poured concrete floors and kept up the maintenance pretty well, for the most part, it is in very decent shape. Based on what I see and hear from others, it could be a whole lot worse.

Do you get a good feeling or a bad feeling when you see these photos? Tell me a little bit about your basement?

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