A House Story, Chapter 4

Orange Wall Photography by D. Plasman

I really want to succeed in a This Old House rehab and eventually call this place home.  It’s a long way from being livable, and this is one of the better walls.

Walls in old houses were uniquely constructed with framing lumber measuring in true dimensions. That means a 2” x 4” stud was actually 2” x 4” (not 1.5” x 3.5” which are the dimensions of today’s so-called 2 x 4’s).

Narrow horizontal slats called lath were hand-nailed over the vertical studs, leaving a quarter-inch space between each piece. Plaster (the gray material) was applied over the entire wall of lath, forming a tight bond as it seeped into the gaps. A thin plaster coat was then applied over the original coat and painted.

After 75 years or so and some settling of the foundation, cracks appeared. One of the previous homeowners decided the best solution was to mix another coat of plaster (also called stucco) and apply it to the wall with a special roller in order to create a textured look. That hid the cracks for a time but not forever.  A later owner probably thought, “I hate looking at a room with cracks and the sharp texture cuts my elbow whenever I walk by. I’ll add a 3/8” layer of drywall and paint it ORANGE!!!”

With a hammer, a flat crow bar, and a flat-edged, long-handle tool I use for busting up ice on my driveway, I deconstructed in about ten minutes what took the original builders and all the previous owners weeks and weeks to put together. In the season of Lent, I did this living, breathing house a favor. I got it ready for something better.

During Lent, we’re preaching on The Beatitudes. Here’s a congregational reading for this Sunday which Jody adapted from Isaiah 65, a vision for this world as God intends it.

Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God. 

No more will there be an infant who lives only a few days, or a child who goes without an education. No more will there be an older person who does not live in dignity, or a teenager who dies by a gun, or a person at the peak of life who dies of disease, or a mother who cannot take care of her child, or a person whose love for another is not recognized, or a young man who goes to prison because of the color of his skin, or a young woman who is sold as a sex slave, or a child of God whose beauty is not celebrated.

Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.  

No more will anyone build a house and not live in it.  No more will anyone not make a living wage for a day’s work.  No more will anyone plant a garden and not have enough to eat.  No more will someone’s productivity benefit unjustly the employer.  No more will the power of the few keep the many in poverty.  No more will the occupation of one’s hands numb the mind and steal the soul.

Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.

[For previous installments of A House Story go to www.danielplasman.com/blog/ Pull down the CATEGORIES menu and select A House Story]






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One Comment

  1. Nika March 25, 2014 at 12:37 am #

    Are you taking it down to the studs??? I wonder what fun project you could rehab the laths for?! Any thoughts???