Northwest Lean-To / Sunroom
The northwest lean-to section of the house concerns mostly with the area that was once Gustav Roedde’s den. Prior to the restoration project in July 1987, the house overall served as a rooming house for years, and this space was actually a sunroom and kitchen.
Among other first observations of the room, workers found that boards ran up and down the walls. Spaced 13 ¾” apart and standing in between plate holder and floor mouldings, the boards themselves are 54” long and 2 5/8” across. Ceiling strips were found coated in high-gloss varnish and were butted by yet another strip that spanned over the top of the wall. Together, both the walls and ceiling of the sunroom were panelled with “Beaverboard.” However, in the case of the ceiling in particular, cedar shiplap was installed above the “Beaverboard” with round nails. Aside from the ceiling and walls, workers further made observations about the doors attached to the room. Among these, it was noted that the moulding around the door to the kitchen was the same moulding around the built-in cabinet under back stairs, as well as around the door on the east side of the kitchen.
Amidst these general aspects, there are many other details that are worthwhile to examine—specifically those concerning little objects that the restoration workers came across, and the woodwork of the room. As for the objects, workers first and foremost found miscellaneous articles behind a plate moulder holding that measured 61” in height, including a key, whistle, button and life saver wrapper. Then, a substantial amount of newspaper dated around the 1960’s was found between layers of wallpaper on the south wall. Lastly, workers uncovered an American penny, dated to 1930, behind the baseboard moulding, between the wall and fir flooring, and underneath the “Beaverboard” on the east side of the sunroom.
The workers’ remarks about the woodwork of the space are equally significant. For one, there were signs of 2 pieces of wood having been cut out of and then replaced on the south wall. 73” from the floor, the cut measured 15 ½” wide and 10 ½” long. After removing the “Beaverboard” on the far west corner of the south wall, workers noticed that the angled wood in place changed direction. Measuring 13 ¾” long and 5 1/8” wide, such wood resembled that on the roof. Moreover, the angled boards themselves were in deficient condition. Not only had rotting begun at the bottom of the wood, but one board in particular was poorly fitted as it was 36 ½” from the floor; this caused a gap 1” in width beside the corner post. Along with the wood cuts and the angled boards, the restoration workers also noted details concerning doors. For instance, door moulding was found split down the middle of the east wall. As well, workers predicted that the construction of a door had possibly started on the west side of the south wall Finally, what is further relevant about the woodwork of the sunroom is that some charring had been found on a stud near the top of the window on the west wall.
Kitchen - North
Within the northwest lean-to, next to the sunroom, was a small kitchen. This is not to be confused with the area of the Roedde family kitchen, as kitchen-north was located in what has now been restored as the den. During the 1930's, Roedde House was a boarding house owned by Clara Jeffery. As a widow, she lived with her daughter and granddaughter in what is now the master bedroom and the den.
Upon entering this part of the house, restoration workers made particular observations about the doors and window mouldings, as well as the walls. With regard to the mouldings, it can first be noted that both the baseboard and window mouldings were applied over wallpaper that could also be found in the sunroom, under the corner block mouldings of the west doorway. Consisting of planed cedar cut to 4 5/8” width, as well as a strip of pine nailed on the edge, the window moulding bore a total width of 5 ½”. Not only that, but with its round inside edge found cut off, it resembled the moulding around the east kitchen door that lead to the wash closet. As a side note, workers also remarked that underneath the window, one could find pulleys, as well as a small area that had been boarded in with 5 1/8” material and round nails. In a broader sense, workers noticed that the archway moulding that lead into the sunroom, the picture rail, and the window moulding had all been installed with round finishing nails. On the other hand, the top and south side mouldings of the door leading to the wash closet had been installed with square nails instead.
As for the walls, both the north wall and south wall are, for the most part, were composed of 1” X 10” shiplap that had been applied with square nails. On the north wall in particular, the top five rows of shiplap measured to be 1” X 8” and appeared to be from the original construction of the house. Another significant aspect about the north wall is how the shiplap might have been applied prior to the restoration project. For one, workers deduced that the shiplap had been cut on both sides of the window after installation. In addition to lining up smoothly, the edges of the boards had been hand-sawn and followed the same general waves. The shiplap specifically at the window had been mounted with round nails. Finally, the wallpaper here ended in particular places which indicated that it had been cut with shiplap in the past.
Whilst only one bathroom existed at the time that the Roedde family lived in the house; an additional wash closet unit was installed downstairs during the rooming and boarding house period. Upon stepping through the rear entry, one would have been immediately faced with the doorway to the wash closet in question. Furthermore, the room was accessible from kitchen-north on the left. Later, restoration workers tore down the division between the lower sunroom and kitchen-north, converting them into what had once been Gustav Roedde’s den. As for the wash closet, the room retained its functionality, but was shrunken down in size. Doorways connecting the hall of the rear entry with the downstairs bathroom were removed, and walls were filled in. Thus, when one arrives at the rear entry today, one is only faced with the landing hall of the back stairs.
Instead of being limited to itself, the observations workers made about the wash closet concerned the overall area of the downstairs bathroom, the rear entry, and the back stairs. Among other general findings, the restorers found that the original wall covering of the bathroom consisted of ¼” cut fir and measured 3 5/16” in width. Not only that, but the wall also bore V-shaped grooves. Inside the wash closet, workers remarked from the southwest corner that the walls had been previously covered with cloth and painted in green. They deduced that such actions must have been taken after the installation of the north window and west door trim, but before that of the picture rail and baseboards. Outside of the wash closet, there was once a built-in cabinet under the back stairs. Besides containing a side wall of width 3 7/32”, the cabinet bore a V-shaped fir groove that had been applied with round finish nails.
Many other findings, however, were noted about the area of the back stairs. In terms of the stairs themselves, workers first noticed that the stair treads had been nailed to stringers with square nails, while the stringers were fixed to the building with round nails. Secondly, the restorers identified the fir flooring on the stair landing to be the same as that in what had once been the girl’s bedroom. Moreover, different features that the workers noticed also allowed them to estimate when the staircase would have been installed. Among such features was the handrail. As indicated by the “V” groove panelling present, the stairs had not been installed until after the window sill on the north east window had been cut with a handsaw. On top of this, workers drew yet another conclusion about the installation date of the stairs. For instance, the back stair handrail was thought to have been installed before the east wall of the downstairs wash closet. Prior to the application of any panelling, one wall stud had been utilized to nail in the handrail from both sides.
Other observations pertained to the general layout of the staircase. After being prefabricated, the steps had been built to have a balustrade on their north side. Whilst the north stringer bore a rounded bottom, the south side did not. The two sides were also different in that whilst the former carried treads that had been shaved off to accommodate the bottom rail of the balustrade, the latter did not. Even though it did not fit tightly to the stringer, a wide rail was still fixed to the south side. Then, a significant amount of attention was devoted to examining the ceiling boards of the stairs area. For one, the ceiling boards at the west end of the stair opening had been patched together with a handrail that measured 18” in length. As well, the restorers found that the ceiling boards reaching the chimney upstairs were burnt and had been cut with an axe in the past. Accompanying these were ceiling joist and wall boards that were also burnt. Finally, what is also worthwhile to consider about the space’s general layout is that the stair opening appeared to have been framed twice after its original construction.
Beyond the stairs, the restoration workers considered the passageways that were connected to the downstairs wash closet. When standing in the wash closet, for instance, the restorers found that the east door—that is, the door connecting the bathroom with the rear entry— was trimmed in a style identical to that of cabinet under the back stairs. Here on the east wall, both the west and east sides had fir panelling applied on top of them. However, whilst the east side was not panelled in a “V” groove fashion, the west side was. As a result, the panelling of the former resembled that which was on the underside of the back stairs, and the panelling of the latter resembled that which was used in the construction of the built-in cabinet under the stairs. Together, these aspects indicated that the east wall of the wash closet had been put in at the same time as the built-in cabinet, but after the rear stairs were installed. Another door existed in the west wall of the downstairs bathroom. With a cedar trim around it, the west door led into kitchen-north. On such a doorway were corner blocks that had been installed with round finishing nails. Aside from doors, the restorers came across another type of passageway. Indeed, an opening of unknown use was found on the north wall in the wash closet. This was presumed to have once been a coal chute to the basement. With an opening size of 1’-5 ¾” X 1’-2 ½”, the chute seemed to have been cut out of the existing wall rather than originally framed in. Workers also supposed that at some point in time, this opening had been filled in with T&G fir.
Although touched upon in previous paragraphs, trimming and framing in the wash closet, back stairs, and rear entry area could be explored even further. Firstly, right outside of the wash closet’s east wall, all baseboard found by the doorway was of cedar shiplap measuring ¾” X 7”. With bottom tongue still intact and with a quarter round moulding top, the shiplap had been fixed with round finishing nails and cover the bottom of some oil cloth. In addition, a thin horizontal band with a tapered top and bottom had been applied onto the same wall with round finishing nails. This strip was 4’- 4 ½” above the floor. Apart from the baseboard and the horizontal band, one other form of trimming arose as a significant finding. Again on the same wall, a picture rail had been installed 8’- 9 3/8” above the floor. There were three pieces composing the picture rail, with each labeled in pencil script on the back depending on their position in the room: east side, west side and south side. It appeared that a minimum number of round finishing nails had been used to install this picture rail, for the restoration workers found only two nail holes in each piece. To gain a more specific understanding of the rear entry, see the Pantry page of the House Restoration project.
- Restoration Notes- N.W. Lean-To (II)
- Restoration Notes- Kitchen North (IX)
- Restoration Notes- Bathroom-Lower (XI)