The fireplaces are almost finished, and the crew has removed the inside scaffolding. The fireplaces are looking more beautiful all the time.
Archive for the ‘Stone’ Category
For the past few weeks, Lewis Wright and the crew have been building the stone fireplaces. The fireplaces, which share a chimney, are back-t0-back on the south side of the house. One fireplace will be in the timber frame room, and the other will be on the screened porch. Lewis is using sandstone from an old barn in Middlebrook, which he also used for the foundation of the screened porch. There is also some limestone in the outdoor fireplace.
The fireplace is very beautiful. The stonework is amazing, and the colors, design, and proportions of the work are perfect with the timber frame. The chimney and fireplace will also be wonderful to look at from outside the house, so harmonious with the foundation of the screened porch. I am trying hard to avoid the over-use of superlatives.
We had not originally planned to use sandstone in the new house, but this spring when Kelley was looking for some logs to supplement the barn logs we already had, he found yet another old barn. The lumber from the barn, located on a farm in Middlebrook, had been claimed and removed, but Kelley and Lewis and Lewis’s assistant, Braxton Wood, were able to buy the foundation, which was made of blocks of sandstone and limestone.
Kelley says that it is unusual to find sandstone in Augusta County, but there does seem to be some in Middlebrook. We have seen a retaining wall of sandstone in the village of Middlebrook. It has very unusual striation and coloring and reminds everyone who looks at it of the Grand Canyon. Kelley said that although it worked easily, it was very hard and dulled the tools quickly. He noticed, too, that some corners of the old barn foundation were worn and rounded, apparently where cattle rubbed against them for many years as they entered the barn.
Kelley and Lewis hired Shelby Clements to move the stone to our property. Shelby loaded the stone into his dump truck with a trackhoe. Moving the stone to our property took one day.
When the sandstone arrived at our place, Kelley and Lewis were amazed to find how easy it was to work. They were able to split the large stones easily using just a hammer and a chisel. Kelley very promptly decided that he would like to face the concrete foundation walls for the screen porch with sandstone. Everyone worked at splitting and shaping the stone to prepare it.
Lewis Wright did incredibly beautiful work on these walls. It is so satisfying to look at the patterns these stones make, to see how perfectly square the corner is, and to watch the interplay of large and small stones. This wall is something Kelley and I will enjoy for the rest of our lives. And never has a lawn mower been stored in a more handsome storage room. The mower that has the good fortune to stay in that storage room should “run perfect” forever.
There are still quite a few tons of sandstone left. We plan to use it for the fireplaces in the timber frame room and on the screen porch.
We are using two kinds of stone at Bunny Vista, limestone from the Stuarts Draft area and sandstone from the Middlebrook area.
In the winter of 2006 Kelley bought the foundation stones from an old barn located on the Moffett farm on Old White Hill Road near Stuarts Draft. The very large barn, built along a tributary of Christian’s Creek, had been demolished by the owners but the limestone foundation remained.
Kelley estimates that he bought 80 to 90 tons of stone and brought it from the barn to our property in his Ford F150. He moved much of the stone by himself during January and February, 2006, although he enlisted the enthusiastic help of our son Nick and, occasionally, our daughter Erin. Once or twice I even moved some stone. I found out that even small stones are heavy. Kelley worked almost all day nearly every weekend to haul the stone. When he got the stone to our house, he carefully sorted it by size and stacked it on pallets along the southern border of our lot. The pallets, two deep, lined about half of the lot fence line, about eighty yards.
The limestone, which is commonly found in old and new structures throughout Augusta County, is predominantly dark gray-blue in color with warm tan overtones. As it ages, it gets grayer and lighter in color.
We used limestone for the foundation of Bunny Vista’s log section. Although the house has a poured and insulated foundation, we wanted to cover the foundation with a layer of stone. We decided fairly early on, after working with our architect Peter Aaslestad, that we wanted the look of an old house that had been added to in stages, in effect emphasizing the three different building approaches for the house instead of trying to hide them. In addition to laying stone on the two above-ground walls visible from the exterior of the house, we would also have a stone wall on the interior basement wall. This would visually reinforce the idea that the log house was an important but separate element of the entire house.
Stonemason Jim Roepke, who lives near Greenville, laid the stones for the log house foundation. Jim trained and worked for several years with traditional stonemason and log house builder Charles McRaven. Jim began work on our house in January, 2009, and finished in late April. His work is very careful and very beautiful. During the bitterly cold weather in winter, Jim covered his work area with a plastic tent and heated it with a kerosene heater, both while he worked and at night when the temperature dropped.
I especially love the keystones over the front windows, the stone lintel over the window on the north side, and the entire interior basement stairwell wall, which I think is a masterpiece. Kelley worked with Jim to select stones that were beautiful and that feel wonderful when we touch them.
I am just beginning to see why people love stone so much. It joins Bunny Vista visually to the earth, and it feels safe and solid and eternal. But it also changes. It looks different at different times of day as the angle of the sun changes. The color changes when it rains and the stones gradually dry. It is rough and smooth at the same time. It is warm and again cold. I just want to take a chair and sit out by the walls all day. I am completely and absolutely smitten.