A friend of mine sent me this link to a blog “The Young Bungalow” about the renovation/restoration efforts of a sweet Craftsman Bungalow in Canton. The house–listed on the National Register in 2008–is now for sale, for $123,000.
Even if you’re not in the market for a house, the blog shows the owners’ love for all things Craftsman, and they give a nice little history of the place, along with pictures of the restoration of the 1920s interior. I always like to see a twentieth-century house in Mississippi loved and tended to as much as an antebellum house. They also have posts about various parts of the restoration, including the removal of the drywall and re-hanging wallpaper.
Built in 1928 by a local Lumberton (thats someone who owns a lumber yard), the Young Bungalow is a 1500 square foot, and and a half story bungalow with the typical features. After staying in the same family for over 60 years, then transfering to a single guy for another 19, it finally came to us in the summer of 2006. Not much had been altered to the main structure, except for a little bit of electrical upgrades in the late 80’s and new finishes to the walls. Drywall everywhere!! Well as any purist will tell you, that just won’t do! So we decided to start ripping it down.
Now let me set the tone for y’all, we are not the typical “lets make it old, but we have to have it modernized” kinda folks, and drywall has no place in the 1920’s (especially when it is covering 1 inch plank walls and ceilings).
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You have to understand the way of a lumberton, and quite frankly most any southern home builder at the turn of the century. They say cotton was king, but Pine was the true backbone of the south. And with such a vast supply of good ol’ heart pine, most houses were nothing but. Floors, walls, ceilings, framing, trim, windows, doors, furniture, heck we even have pine sub-floor under our pine finish floor!! We have pine beadboard over full one inch thick pine walls. One inch thick pine sheathing for the roof and pine tongue and groove as the attic flooring that was meant simply for storage. So I think you get the point, we live in a giant tinder box!
With the removal of the drywall and the exposing of the tongue and groove plank walls, we came across another problem. Wall finishes. Lucky for us, the lazy drywallers of 1989 didn’t take the old finishes down, hence came lesson #1. Cheesecloth. Or more specifically, “hangers canvas”. You see back in those days, before the 1940’s when Wallboard (first form of drywall) became popular in the south, you could either paint your walls or paper them. Plaster walls were easy because you had a smooth substrate to start with. But wooden walls such as ours had to first have a substrate material applied. Hangers canvas was used by stretching it across the planks in a vertical fashion and then tacked in place using small upholstering tacks. The paper was then applied to the canvas with wheat paste. Not only does the smoothing go a lot easier than with a paper over drywall application, but the simple fact that you have no true seal, the house breaths a lot better. This keeps us cooler in the summer, and doesn’t allow things like mold, must, and mildew to grow because the house is extremely breathable.