Quarter Sawn and Petrified wood for floors in this house!

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Part 1 of this story and phase;

Our neighbor, who grew up in this fishing village of Bay Center, stops by from time to time when we are working outside and shares some stories with us about the old days in this community. We know then, that he was a child growing up when the second P.O. (previous owner) of this house lived here and their son was growing up. So our neighbor knows the son who inherited this old place. Son wasn’t able to keep it and it was sold out from under him (sounds more like almost ‘stolen’). Son lived his entire life with his parents, and then his mother when the parents divorced late in life. Son was what would be called in this day and age perhaps somewhat developmentally challenged.

We invited neighbor in to take a look at the house and tell us what he remembers about it back in the day – in it’s more original condition. Neighbor, btw, is rather shy, and it has taken a few years to build up a neighborly over the fence relationship with him, so we are happy to learn the bits and pieces he is willing to share of the old history of this community. Remembering that he himself was a child when he visited P.O. son, and he tells us they were infrequent visits inside this house, he does remember some things about the layout. Neighbor has an interesting adult life history, and is a commercial oyster farmer, knows about boats, the Bay and the River and knows that P.O. was a barge/boat builder so knows a bit about construction back in that day.

All this is lead up to explain how we learned about the wood floors in our house. Well at least the stairs and upstairs flooring. Since I tore out the decades old 70s era brown shag carpet that covered the stairs and upstairs hall flooring, we are left with some major clean up and I still haven’t come up with a decision for how to go; try to restore via sand and stain; paint and forget it or some other variances on either of those plans. After giving our neighbor a tour, I have renewed respect for the wood flooring.

He explains that it is ‘quarter sawn’ wood. What’s that we ask. Wellllll, he says…. and explains that back in those days they cut the hardwood trees, sank them in the mud to let them cure (harden – petrify) and then took them to be sawed for use in building homes, boats, floors, etc.. This process of ‘quarter sawn’, he explains was considered wasteful since a quarter sawn strip of lumber has no knotholes and is cut in a particular way with the grain of the wood. The process then leaves behind waste pieces of wood. After the wood is given it’s mud bath, it has become so hardened that it broke too many saws and in time sawmills refused to cut this kind of wood.

Wow! So guess this wood ain’t going anywhere and will probably last another lifetime. Neighbor showed us how to look down the wood planks and notice the grain and no knotholes of any kind the entire length. We did and we noticed what he was pointing out, which we wouldn’t have noticed or appreciated if he hadn’t shared (with almost a reverence) the nature of the quarter sawn wood process.

He also explained how the nails had to be driven in a most certain way on an angle so as not to split the wood down it’s length. Well, guess if they could get nails hammered in, the wood can’t be too petrified, or perhaps so petrified, it splits? I don’t know, just trying to understand based on neighbor’s explanation. He said, btw, that to this day he knows where some of those trees are still sunk in mud, but he’s not telling where. Guess he’ll go to his grave knowing where they are and not telling.

Part 2 of this story and phase;


Recently, we were invited to give a presentation at a conference in the Eastern part of our state, so we made the 7 hour drive and met up with a colleague who had rented a B&B place to stay for couple of nights. Okay – sounds sweet, eh? The Eastern part of our state is primarily agriculture so it is miles and miles of scenery that can be plateaus of the Columbia Basin, rolling hills of the Palouse, the fruit orchards of the Yakima area, and flat scrub brush in areas located in the neighborhood of Hanford Nuclear Plant. Thus, there are a lot of generational family farmers (and I’d guess a fair amount of new ‘corporate’ farms).


As it turns out, we got a bit lost trying to locate the B & B. Not lost as in lost in the city, but lost on an old country lane that went from pavement to gravel to no outlet, with only a few fairly run down and delapidated houses along the way. I was feeling fairly insecure that if one of these houses was to be the B & B, I was going to have a shaky night and we might need to look for a hotel in town. Husband made a call to the owners, got directions and then got us on the right road to the B & B. It was still a country road, that went from pavement to gravel, and there were few and far between old farmhouses. But we found ‘our’ farmhouse, rented out at B & B by the owners, who were Professors at the University and also ‘worked’ the land, so it was called a working farmhouse B & B. The owners, btw, don’t live at the farmhouse, and have a place in town, or maybe they stay in town when the house is rented out, I’m not sure how that works.
But, here is what does work. It is an old farmhouse – and I like what the owners have done with it, partly restored, partly rehabbed and the decor is pretty much strictly antiques and collectibles so it retains a feel of a farmhouse in the late 1800s, early 1900s. Except for the kitchen which retains it’s 1970s upgrade….too bad, but it was a big kitchen and with a few restorations or reworking it, could quickly lose it’s 1970s identity.
One of the magazines on the coffee table was a big hardback book with lots of great photos about Architecture of Old Farmhouses. I was fascinated and gobbling up the information. It seems that back in the day, what could have started as a humble one or two room dwelling would be added onto as family demands (and family prosperity) grew. So architecturally the style of the day might be added to the style of yesteryear, thereby compromising the definitiveness of architectural style. And ‘saltbox’ style became quite popular but is not in itself a ‘style’ as much as it points to an add on to the existing structure thereby altering the roof line.
Well, there you go – our house then, doesn’t really don’t have any kind of singular architectural style, could be in the classification of a farmhouse, but not exactly, and I tend to call it more the style of the homes of the martimers who lived and fished here. Mr. Bachau, who added elegance to the straightforward style, sheaved the sharp ends at each corner of the roof, added a turret/cupola to the upstairs level, and added bump out bay windows to the street side of the house and the back kitchen. It appears the kitchen is a bump out from the house (an added bump out kitchen was not uncommon, per our neighbor, to the houses built here way back when).
Sheaving the ends of the roof line, our neighbor explained was done to reduce the rotting of the corner ends from the moisture, rains and sea storms that roll in off the Bay, off the Pacific Ocean. I had shown him the photos I have of the original house and the roof line is pitched at both ends. Which is why he explained what he explained about shearing the roofline corners.


After the Bachau’s lived their lives in this house, and she died, and Son inherited the house and wound up ‘selling’ it to the next owner. The house was what is called pier and block, and had no basement. Next P.O. dug out a basement under the house, bricked up the basement and poured a concrete floor, and added a carport where once were the two beautiful bay windows Mr. Bachau added to the house. We learned that owner lived about 20 years in the house (or less but much longer than we had been given to understand).

He sold it and now the next P.O. added a bump out to the bumped out kitchen, and a bump out on pier and block (no basement) to create a main floor bathroom. Incidentally, the original house had no bathroom, had an outhouse, and the main floor bathroom had to be plumbed, there was no upstairs bathroom and the last P.O. created a room and had plumbing done for upstairs bathroom.

Definitely then, this house fits the definitions of what constitutes an old farmhouse to the degree that the book I was reading defined architecture styles passing along through the generations. But our great old house no longer has it’s front porch. A situation I hope to remedy and have a front porch built and added, because I want the old rocking chairs and to be able to sit out on the porch.

What else I learned from reading the book (and looking at the photos) was that some homeowners prefer to restore elements of their house to it’s original architecture, ie, primitive stairways with high risers, architectural columns, beadboarded walls, heavy wood paneling (no, not the 70s stuff), panel doors, ah, memory fails me here, but the list is lengthy. And glory be, I found a photo of an exact staircase bannister as is in our house. It seems that is a deliberate design, how it curves at the top of the stairs. Also that the newel post at the bottom of the stairs is by design Greek Gothic and all I’ve ever thought was that is was primitive in look.

Enough of a post, and some of our next projects I’m considering are to remove the plasterboard that was put up on the walls as part of second owners ‘rehab’ to get back to original plank walls — maybe, as I need to do a bit more research before we start tearing out plasterboard. I can see from some of the original closets that were not rehabbed or upgraded the wallpaper (which is linen btw) and a tear shows the plank walls behind the wallpaper.

Our trip to the Eastern part of the state then brought me home with fresh ideas, renewed love for our old house, and while we went to give a presentation on an entirely different matter, I came home with renewed mental energy to look at this house with fresh eyes or new perspective of it’s valued old history.

Deersong

The house – 1886, thru the 1900’s to present day

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Original house, 1886, saltbox structure, wood built on piers — third house from the right in the photo. Church on right, preacher’s house next to church, and what was then the original house (with white picket fence). I’ve heard different accounts as to when the house was built – 1886, 1887, 1892. Whichever of those years it was built in, it is still standing sturdy over a century later and that’s something!

The first modifications to the house in early 1900’s. Added was the second story level cupola, and the two large bay windows on side of the house. The porch remains, and the white picket fence remains. House originally built by the Miller’s; her daughter married Harry Bochau and they became the owners of the house. Harry Bochau was a barge builder by trade and added the architectual details of the second story cupola and the two bay windows on the side of the house. Mrs. Bochau was pleased with the additions and called her house a chateau. It came to be known in the community as the Bochau Chateau.

Lower left hand photo and you can see the baby Monkey Puzzle Tree that was planted then. As this is a community on Willapa Bay, it was more so then that all the communities on the bay commerced by boat, ferry and ships. When the ships would sail into this community, Mrs. Bochau would go down to meet and greet the ship and boat captains, invite them to dinner, while others in the community would do likewise for the rest of the crew. One ship captain had monkey puzzle trees from Chile, South America, on his ship and gifted one of the trees to Mrs. Bochau (so I’m told the story goes). When we bought the house, the monkey puzzle tree she planted was still there and 92 yrs old. But our saga of the monkey puzzle tree is for another blog entry and I’ll tell that story another time.

The house as it is today after several more modifications and additions by the 3 owners who followed the Bochau’s. This is the house in 2003, not quite one year after we bought it.

Deersong

Haunted? Old houses are rumored to retain their residents for a very long time … I’m told

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About a year after we bought the house, we made both upstairs rooms into bedrooms. My sister came on a visit from Utah and slept upstairs in the bedroom where in the photo below shows a red circle around the window to that room.

About a year after that visit she was out here again and we were talking about the Tokeland Hotel which – as the seagull flies – is less than 5 miles across Willapa Bay from our house. However, we have always driven there which is almost 40 miles one way going out to Hwy 101, up the coast thru South Bend and Raymond and West on State Route 105 to Tokeland. The Tokeland Hotel has some rooms that are haunted. As we talked about that, Sis looked at me and told me the following …

“My dear Brother,  one morning after getting up, I came in from the bathroom and sat at the chair there to put my shoes on. Something drew my attention to the bed (she’d just slept in) and I looked up. I saw a woman sitting there on the bed and somehow knew that she used to live here.”

Yeah, yeah yeah ….. and I soon forgot about it.

Yesterday at work I was interviewing a woman – I’ll call her Dot – who was a pre-teen in the late 1960’s and knew the elderly lady, June Bochau, who’d lived most of her life in this house. Born in 1877, June Bochau died in 1970 at the age of 93 and was still living in the house with her son.
Dot remembered for me how she used to brush the old lady’s hair, telling me that she remembered mostly how long it was.

Dot then told me that later on, when she was older, she was back in the house helping another owner do some clean up. She said that June’s presence was still in the home even though she had died a few years earlier and that June’s presence was most strongly felt in the bedroom where the window is circled below.



I then remembered my sister’s story. I’m sitting in that room as I write this since it is now the room where my Sweetie and I spend probably half of every day while on our computers.

I came home last night thinking about June Bochau, a character about whom I’ve heard many stories in the 3 1/2 years we’ve lived here.

My Sweetie is not here right now but down the road some 40 miles this week in Long Beach with her mother so I’m home alone. I moved her computer chair with it’s arm rests and high back out from her desk and turned it to face me last night.

Every so often I’d turn and look at that chair which is the only place left in her former bedroom where June Bochau could sit down right now.
No, the chair did not move and although the window is open, the curtains did not rustle.

Nevertheless, I think about Dot who told me that she got chills up and down her spine when I told her what house we had purchased and were now living in.

I think about my sister who is not prone to telling ghost stories ….

I look at that empty chair, look out the door to the upper tower room where I can see above the houses in the immediate nearbye streets … and think some more about June Bochau.

This is the room behind that window in the other picture. That’s me at my computer and immediately to my left is my clothes closet.
My Sweetie’s computer is separated from mine by that waist-high cabinet to my immediate right.
Sweetie’s computer module is in the corner and the window looking out would be to her right if this were a panoramic view.
In the bottom right corner, her desk chair with a red sweater draped over the back sits empty.
I turn and look at it and just smile.

Deersong’s husband