Saturday, October 19, 2013

something's squirrelly

I know I had mentioned our pressing need to close the gaping holes on the third floor, and to that end we knocked down a rather large chunk of wall (9x7) on the first. The wall had it coming, and I've been waiting nearly a year to do the deed. We knew that our house, like many period homes, should have something of a foursquare plan on the first floor (very early open-concept I suppose, bleh). After determining where the staircase and original front door had been (the door is now a window in what was a first floor bedroom when we bought the house), we knew several things were terribly wrong.

floorplan when we purchased her
After fixing our hall of mirrors and restoring the placement of the staircase, the next thing on the agenda was reopening the doorway between what had been the entry and the main parlor.

two years in
We knew this entry existed not only because it was sort of a given that one of the largest rooms on the first floor would never have been entered only through a tiny non-original hallway leading to the bathroom, but also because extensive doorway shaped cracking in the plaster, said "sledgehammer here" (which is a lie, because we use his and hers demo hammers).


This diagram is also a lie, as it would lead you to believe we were some of the lucky few that found unmolested pocket doors in the wall, never fear, the previous owners of our home would never let us off that easy. What actually happened is that a year ago I noticed (in our neverending basement of mysteries) a particularly lovely toilet partition in our Pittsburgh bathroom ( Said partition was crudely sawn off on one end, solid cherry and uniquely paneled. Naturally this discovery led me to grab a grinder and cut some viewing holes between the cracks.

head sized holes that could be hidden behind
furniture, that window should be the entry doors
We weren't just missing a door or an arch, we were missing pocket doors! Sadly the holes revealed that there were no doors hiding out in there, but they did suggest that the track may be intact. Fast forward a year . . .

everyone agreed this was a squirrel . . .

mystery diagrams, and you can see
the large pocket on the right

Both sides of the wall demoed, filler studs (that we could tell were reused from elsewhere in the house because of the lath shadows to the inside of the pockets) removed, and 30 bags of plaster from the floor and pockets swept up and we now know we're missing two 9 foot by 3 1/2 foot quartersawn cherry pocket doors. Thanks to ebay we've identified what they looked like (we have the top 2/3's of one door).

same panel detail, but pine and 10 feet tall
Our track however is perfectly intact, and seems to be made up of two 12x4 iron I beams (this is the Steel City after all) on top of parallel brick and fieldstone walls, which explains why the center of our house has no sag what-so-ever. We've given ourselves another week or so to find temporary doors and hardware that we can use (the originals are so lovely we'll have them replicated at some point in the distant future after we win the lottery). The doors are easy to find, but while all the rollers seem to fit in the track, our hardware requires a two inch drop to the top of the stop that keeps the doors from derailing, instead of the one inch that seems more common. We have one last lead, but if that falls through we'll treat the opening like an arch and trim it out, because the chimney effect we have going on is astounding (and starting to get down right frigid).


  1. We were one of the lucky ones to find a set of pocket doors inside the walls - but only one set! I think the second set were thrown out when the forced air furnace ducting was installed in that wall.

    I wish you the best of luck with your pocket door search, Mistress Mayfair!


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