Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Long-Awaited Foundation Repairs Now Complete

As 2023 draws to a close, it's time to celebrate a big step forward in the repair of Veblen House. A mason and his crew arrived last week to pour footings and underpin eroded areas of the house's foundation in the basement. 

Back in 2011, a detailed assessment of the Veblen House was conducted by a local architectural firm that noted, among other things, erosion beneath the chimney's foundation. Repair was characterized as "urgent." A cynic might say that the report, with its high calculated pricetag for restoring the house, was meant less to spur repair than to intimidate anyone wishing to take the project on. The report detailed all of the house's flaws, and none of its assets. Seeing promise where others saw only expense, we remained undaunted.

The sense of urgency was lessened slightly when I took a closer look under the chimney, and found that only a third of it had been undermined. 

Still, it was a great relief this past week to see the chimney, and a couple other spots in the house's foundation, at last properly underpinned with concrete. 
The cement arrived in a miniature cement truck, which promptly got stuck on ground softened by a heavy rain earlier in the week. Herrontown Woods was created by the Veblens specifically as a place to get away from motorized vehicles, so it's amusing to see how the land itself enforces their decree. 
The crew quickly adapted, carting the concrete down to the house in wheelbarrows.
Bucket after very heavy bucket of cement was handed down through the trapdoor in the kitchen to waiting hands in the basement,
where it was poured into moulds to form footings. Our desire to use Veblen House for events requires reinforcement of the already sturdy floors. 
The masons had to get creative where the footings intersected with existing structures.
Cutting into the basement floor for one of the footings revealed a drainage pipe running beneath the floor. This pipe may well connect to a series of wells outside. The Whiton-Stuarts, who built the house and lived in it for the first ten years before selling to the Veblens, had many horses. It's possible that seepage underneath the basement flows into wells that may at one time have provided drinking water for the horses
The masons reconnected the severed drainage pipe so that it can continue to help keep the basement dry.

Thanks goes to FOHW board member Scott Sillars, who was able to find a mason to do the work (we had been searching on and off for years), and to our supporters whose donations fund repairs.

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