Friday, April 8, 2011

An opportunity to be cherished

When I was finally born, after twenty hours of labor, my mom tells me she couldn't stop exclaiming, "Oh look! Oh look! Oh look!" She was caught up in the drama of the process, ecstatic for result--finally!-- of so much effort. I can relate. This is exactly how I felt watching Patrick carry the last piece of fireplace down to the truck yesterday.

As I said on Tuesday, we bought a fireplace from a dilapidated old Binghamton apartment building (shown above). It was still attached to the house, and I don't know about you guys, but I don't have a whole of experience removing fireplaces from old buildings. We were girding ourselves for lots of frustration and cursing.

Patrick and the gentleman who owns the house went upstairs to make an assessment of the job, and form a battle plan. I dawdled around, assuming it'd be a long process.

I wandered and snapped lots of pictures.

The place is beautiful-- at least, my idea of beautiful-- but all the same, I'm glad the house we bought needs a little bit less work than this place.

Right? After seeing streams of demo-dust sifting down from above, and hearing some quiet groaning, I walked up to see how the guys were progressing. I expected: frowns, dejected sighs, maybe even exasperation at the necessity of some tool we were lacking. How easy could it be, anyway, to prize a century-old slate fireplace out of the only home it's ever known?

I walked upstairs, and beheld:

A fully disassembled fireplace, already being carted downstairs and into the truck! It was so easy, says Patrick: two pins holding the uprights in place, and the rest was just gravity. Had I known that it'd be such a quick job, I would've scampered up there with my camera first thing.

As I mentioned, the fireplace surround has a really gorgeous and interesting faux wood-grain finish, which is why we chose it. See?

The surround was trimmed out with some tiles-- seen to the left-- which had been painted at some point. Underneath the flaking paint, they're yellow marble. It just kept getting better.

I carried down the pieces of tile (because they were light) as Patrick made a couple trips out carrying the (heavier) slate pieces. This was the last one.

Cue: Oh look! Oh look! Oh look!

It was literally a ten-minute job.

So, that's the story. When we started idly trolling antiques stores and Craigslist, about three months ago, we knew we couldn't settle for just any fireplace. It had to be a cool one, you know. I had a drool-worthy picture from a book called Restore, Recycle, Repurpose, for reference, but I knew it was silly to hope we'd find something that amazing here in Binghamton. I had no idea that the very first fireplace that came along would be almost as amazing as the book. The finish, the marble tile, the history, my goodness. We are taking a little piece of old Binghamton with us to our new house, and it feels right.

Oh, and because some of you may be curious, we paid $120. I'd seen thoroughly unremarkable wooden fireplaces going for $250 in salvage shops, so altogether I feel we got a good deal. Plus, the owner was really cool, and he's doing the right thing. Rather than destroying the fireplaces in his big upcoming renovation project, he's giving them an opportunity to be cherished. After a few more starry-eyed history lovers like us come along, (and I hope they do!), all the fireplaces will have new homes.

Yesterday was a good day. Today, I'm perma-smiling. The fireplace is going to G'ville this weekend, to live in our garage until the great room is ready for it. What a happy thing we have to look forward to.


Becky said...

That's my kind of beautiful too!!

So glad the owner is letting the good stuff go to new homes. Less for the landfill, preserving a wee bit of history, making people happy. You really did a beautiful bargain.

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