Hamilton Restoration Project

As some of you may know, Karl and I have bought property in Hamilton, NY. We became the happy owners on February 17, 2006 after about 2 years of searching for the right type of house and location. Our thanks go to Brian and Jeanette Wright for sending us the original real estate link to the property and helping to make it all possible!

Most of all, to my life long friends, Nina and Bob for their support and encouragement....not to mention the hot showers, warm bed, and good food on those long cold work days! It wouldn't have happened without you...THANKS!!!


The above photo shows the original part of the house, a post and beam structure built ca. 1840-1850. It faces east.


This photo shows the south side where the kitchen and mudroom/garage are located. An unfortunate addition is the bump out on the back section. This was added as a makeshift garage probably in the 1950's but will definitely be removed to improve the whole appearance of the building. We hope to install lots of windows on this side.



The left hand side contains the kitchen and sun porch and was added a little later but was also built as a post and beam structure. The porch, originally open, has been glassed in more recently. Behind the kitchen/sun porch section is another addition which then creates an "L" shape of the whole building. Although many people advised us against renovating and were very negative about our plans (those with no appreciation of the underlying historic structure) we have committed ourselves to bring life back into what will be a BEAUTIFUL home! Here are some interesting features of the old house:

The old post and beam structure with pegs as seen in upstairs rooms

Unique front entry door. There are two of these doors both off the front sun porch into the kitchen and living room

Wrought iron door latch for bedroom door upstairs. I just love this!

Look at this wonderful surprise-beautiful wide board paneling in future master bedroom

There is a barn and chicken coop included on the 47 acres. We are both very excited about restoring the home to as much an original state as is practical and comfortable and have discovered lots of interesting bits of information about the property already. I will post photos of our progress as we move along......a visual journal of our adventures!

Here is an aerial view of the property.


1859 Madison County Map

This is the property as on the 1859 Madison County map. I was fortunate enough to find and buy this section of the map from an auction on Ebay.The name listed appears to be E. Brainard. From what I was able to find out the Brainards/Brainerds originally came from Connecticut and were one of the early families to settle in the Hamilton area, as early as 1799. By the time this map was drawn there were quite a few Brainard/Brainerd families in the surrounding area. I am excited about trying to find out who actually built the house, could it have been the E.Brainard list on the map?

The Poolville Lake shown on both maps was the site of early mills and other industries established by members of the Poole family. For more historical information check out the Madison County site.

On to the present schedule of events!


February 17, 2006-We had the closing in Oneonta on Friday at 1:00PM and went directly to the property from there. I started cleaning out the mudroom into piles of "stuff"-metal, burnable trash, recycables, etc. Karl meanwhile assessed the furnace and water situation of which neither one worked! So here it was freezing cold and we had no heat or water! We worked all day Saturday and Sunday trying to make space to sort the accumulation of junk we found.

February 24-27- We knocked down the main chimmney in the kitchen as well as the bathroom walls. We wanted to enlarge the kitchen and removed the awkwardly located bathroom.



March 3-6-We started the removal of the plaster and lath in the main front room. Upon careful inspection we were able to knock out some of the small bedroom walls because they were nonbearing walls. By doing this we really expanded the size and light in the living room, aka as my room whereas the mudroom will be known as Karl's room!

This shows the entire length of the living room opened(approx. 28'x16') Now for the ceiling to come down. Thanks for the help here Brian and Jeanette!


All this lath, plaster and rubble should be gone in a week or so!


March 10-13-Another cold weekend and lots of plaster dust! This time we moved on to the den which will be our future bathroom (not soon enough!) and then we worked on the two tiny bedrooms which we combined to make a future master bedroom.

This wall in the photo on the right was taken out to make one bedroom instead of the two small ones.


March 16-20-Does it ever get warm in Hamilton???We had more snow and bitter cold weather. Thank goodness for our place of refuge at "Nina's Comfort Inn".The accomodations were great there!

Our son, Karl and his fiance' Heather, came up on Sunday and helped with knocking out remaining plaster walls, shoveling out more of the plaster and lath debris and removing piles of brick. At this point we looked things over and were busy taking stock of what we have done, need to do and are able to do! We have a plan!

March 25-26-We stayed home a weekend to help celebrate young Karl's birthday!

March 31-April 3-We removed the pile of debris from the south side of the house and Karl built a temporary basement door that was missing. He also removed lots of junk from the basement with young Karl's help, cut down trees and fallen branches. Things are starting to look better inside and out!Ae

The view looking north from the back of the house.


April 7-10-Karl removed old hot air heating ducts from under floors and in the basement, knocked out the old cast iron vent pipe in the center of the kitchen, installed the drain pipes for the future bathroom and we now have a flushable toilet ! This is all wonderful progress although we have no phots to show for all his efforts in the basement! He also hauled out the old appliances to the scrap metal pile and hopefully we can get it all removed. I raked more of the yard and cleared up lots of fallen branches from the front lawn. In the process I discoved perennials and bulbs popping out. There is spring in Hamilton after all.

April 15-16-Easter weekend at home with the family.

April 19-24-Wow! We got a lot done over these last few days! The weather was great during the week so we were able to get the barn down. Scott Davis, of S. E. Davis Construction Company, helped us out a lot by getting the driveway ready for us, helping to pull down the barn and clearing lots of plaster, rocks, concrete steps and branches. Thanks for the help Scott!!

Karl on the roof taking stuff out of attic of barn before we tear it down.

well deserved wy!

March 25-27
More preparations before demolition. Back view of barn. The tree had to be cut down to allow the barn to fall freely. It took a bit of tugging with chains and Scott's truck before she would collapse. I think it would have withstood another couple of years before coming down on it's own.

Going, going


Flat as a pancake. The old corn chopper on the right that was in the barn will soon be gone as well.

This shot shows the pine tree that we cut down. All the branches are gone and the driveway is open. The backyard of the house is starting to shape up.

While Karl and Scott were busy with the barn I was in the chicken coop shoveling out years of accumulated chicken poop. When anyone asks what I did on my 59th birthday I won't hesitate for one minute to remember!


The smell started getting to me after a while and my bones started aching so we had some champagne to celebrate my birthday. YOU ARE a REDNECK when you look like this!!!!


May 5-9 Karl took a vacation day added to our regular weekend so we could get more done. He started by creating a wider entry for the driveway with the tractor and adding corner fence posts to make it more noticeable from the main road.

Next item....the entry steps needed repair so we had to fix them for the insurance company

May 12-15 A very busy Mother's Day weekend! Our son, Karl, came up to give us a much needed hand. The weather was perfect on Friday and Saturday(rainy) for burning lots of scrap wood from the old barn and the small chicken coop that we knocked down. Lots of cleanup work again!

Karl helped us clean out the barn and knock down the ugly garage bump out!


May 19-22 This weekend I hope to power wash some parts of the inside of the house. Old houses stink partly due to areas where mice have built nests and urine has soaked into the wood. I hope lots of Clorox and water will eliminate some of these stinky areas!