Estelle Jan 2007

Estelle Jan 2007
This is the home built by John Nelson

Friday, December 21, 2007

The front room is painted with Foggy Day, a deep blue/grey combination with Pacer White trim. The fireplace is working, but we don't have the surround built yet. We had to hurry and get a Christmas tree up in the main window - and check out the snow from last night.

The hall is painted in Samovar Silver - and looks quite remarkable (as does a Russian samovar: a hot water dispenser typically made of silver).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Garage is Poured

So - earlier this month, we got the garage poured and began working on the addition. Here are some pics.
Cold to work outside -but we gotta get the second story built on the addition - so we can have running hot water again. The water heater goes in the bathroom that will lie behind the framed window you see here.

Cabinets !!!! It's a kitchen


The front room was packed with boxes - filled with the kitchen cabinets. So many cabinets in the kitchen, the delivery guy thought they were to outfit the entire house (bathrooms, laundry, etc.).

Wow. The kitchen cabinets turned out fantastic. It took a couple of days for them to be installed. Here are some images from during the installation.

Friday, November 16, 2007

What's Up with All These Boxes?

Sasha sits in the front room and asks, "What is with all these boxes they've loaded into the front room?"

Kitchen / Family Room During Remodel

Looking east into what was originally the kitchen. Now, the walls are painted (and smooth - with a plaster finishing technique). We chose the color Sand Dollar (from Sherwin Williams super paint) because it is soft and comfortable. During the day, the walls take on a very warm tone. There are 9 can lights in the family room and another 9 lights in the kitchen - makes for a very bright room . A ceiling fan in the center of the room contributes to the home-y environment of Estelle. I think John and Catherine Nelson would be proud.

Here is the dividing wall between the family room and the kitchen. The kitchen cabinets will end here.

Here is what was the family room - and is on its way to becoming the kitchen. With an old house, you always have to be ready for compromise and change - and Estelle gave us her share of challenges.
The raised ceilings (compared with the 8' previous ceilings) are a dramatic improvement.

Anya stops in to check out the newly laid imported Italian tile. Behind where the new pantry cabinets will be, we left some of the old wallpaper for those who renovate Estelle next time to find. (We've been stashing little 'finds' throughout).

Kitchen / Family Room Before

This shows the family room - SW room on the main floor.
Notice that the ceiling has been lowered - visible by the height of the door trim (which was trimmed to accommodate the lowered ceiling).

The door shown exits to the west side of the house. Later, you'll see how this room becomes the location of the new kitchen.

Here is a view of the kitchen. The window shown here is on the East side of the house. Notice the water pipes that reach up to the second story bathroom.

When we ripped out these cabinets and started tearing out the wall (to open this area into the NE room), we found that there was originally a door here that had been boarded up and plastered over years ago.

This is in the kitchen looking to the SW. The doorway next to the fridge you'll notice in the remodel, but the wall (on the right side of the picture) is torn out.

Wall between kitchen and family room is being torn out.
This picture was taken from the kitchen area (notice the tile floor) looking west out the back door. In this picture, you can see that we've ripped out the lowered ceilings and took down the heating ducts (that's why the ceilings had been lowered).

No more cabinets in the kitchen. Notice where the old ceiling stopped - the wallpaper pattern meets the white walls.

Now, the fireplace sits between these two windows.

Hurry before winter gets here!

Yipee -The gas fireplaces are installed (not yet working) but we're on our way. The house originally would have had a heatilator in every room (a sign of the owner's wealth in the time). I'm sure they helped keep the home warm.
The Campbell's told us about a large cast iron grate/vent that was to the west of the stairs in the hall - and directly above an old coal furnace. The grate would get very hot - but because of its central location, would help warm the house. We do have the furnace back up and running. It was starting to get cold without it.

Ripping down the porch that was converted into the main floor bathroom. This is the South side of the house.

As we ripped off the siding of the west porch, we discovered that the second story was supported on the south and north sides each by a 3/4 inch thick piece of wood. Wow!
No wonder the dogs didn't like to go out onto the second floor porch. :)

You can see our wall support we constructed before we ripped out the corners and replaced them will new walls.

A close up of the SW corner support before we tore it out.

Here you can see the view as we ripped down the old walls of the porch to replace them - and prepare for windows.

The long chute on from the second story porch let us easily toss down debris from the second story (when we were uncovering the walls from the SW bedroom.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Unveiling the Secret Room

Last week, we uncovered the wall(s) that hid the secret room in Estelle. We found a variety of unique items in the room. Mostly, there was dusty old insulation. But there were also a wide variety of rolls of antique wallpaper. Really cool patterns and pieces (small rolls) that had to date back to late 1800s or early 1900s. Apparently, someone used the room for satisfying a secret vice. We found an old Coors can with the can top that pulls off (rather than the current pop tops). And, there was a cute kids game- something like pin the tail on the clown's rearend. A handfull of empty wood sewing spools. And, an old hat - made of metal spring-like webbing. Quite unique.

Here's where the room was found - in the center of the house between two bedrooms and a closet.The room housed a chimney - but had enough room for several people to hid away. Someone at one point and time had a tiny access through the back corner of the closet, which would have been easy to mask. It had to be a great hiding place for BlackJack Nelson if the law showed up. You never know.

We've also closed in the bottom west porch and it will become a mud-room/sitting room with great windows to the west. Above it, we replaced the old porch with a new one, which we plan to use as a sitting room off the expanded Master Suite. It has phenomenal views of the Mendon/Wellsville mountains. And, the windows are large.

Oh, yeah, we tore down the old main floor bathroom so we could get ready for the footings to be poured (not done yet). While we were working, Anya wanted to poke her head out for a hello.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Estelle and BackJack Nelson

Back in the late 1800s, BlackJack Nelson, son of John Nelson (who built Estelle for his wife Catherine on 260+ acres), was a feared stagecoach robber.

Since there seems to be no record of John being a polygamist, I wonder if the two secret hiding rooms (accessed only from the attic) were designed more for hiding key family members from law enforcement. Or, maybe the spaces were used to hide some of John's prized possessions - like a built-in safe in the home. John was a loved and hated man (as many wealthy are) - and the rooms may have been for his own protection.

In fact, when talking with people who've lived in Estelle over the past 40 years, no one knew of these rooms. Scott and I found them when creating a diagram of the second level floor plan. We wanted to decide how to best maximize the space to create a full master suite. On either side of the beautiful main hallway, tucked between the rooms and masked by odd-sized closets, were these two rooms. The room on the west is much larger than the space on the east. Chimneys run up these rooms - but the space exists only on the second floor.

BlackJack was notorious for his stagecoach robberies. He apparently came away with a really large 'loot' from an ambush near Woodruff. He took the loot and hid it high above Malad in an abandoned mine. Before he could get back to pile, he'd been caught and tried - sentenced to a lynching in main street gallows of Logan.

He never did reveal the location of the stash - and stories of searchers seeking the treasure (to no avail) are rumored even today. One told story suggests that back in the early/mid 20th century, a rider stumbled across the find while riding his horse in a canyon. He left his horse with the loot and headed into town for help. He was never able to find the location again.

These are certainly not facts about BlackJack, but rather my retelling as best as I remember hearing them from others. Nevertheless, the BlackJack's first home, Estelle, still has a place for him to hide if needed. I've considered dropping a coin or two down into the secret room to see if it helps draw BlackJack back for a visit - but I think I'll put my coins into Estelle's renovation instead. :)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Estelle - Jan 2007

Here are some pics of the home before we began the renovation. Estelle was a rental house since 1978 (until Nov 2006). Notice the large widow's walk on top of the house. From this vantage point, John Nelson could scan his vast land holdings - and keep watch for trespassers and law enforcement.

Estelle is filled with many happy memories for many different families. In fact, one neighbor stopped in and his mother talked about being married in front of the grand staircase under the arch (see below).

  • Pictures - in order:
  • The front room. Stairs start in the entry way.
  • The staircase winds up to a large foyer on the second floor.
  • A 'modern' kitchen (the plumbing mostly worked) replaced the old butler's quarters and pantry. The coal stoves have long been removed and chimneys blocked off.
  • The second floor bathroom boasts a tall man's clawfoot tub.
  • An upstairs bedroom shows the lowered ceilings - below the transom. This was thought to help lower the heating costs. All trim and baseboards were removed and replaced with wood paneling in the 1970s - trendy at the time.

    Renewing Estelle - The John Nelson House

    It may be a pioneer manor, a mansion in its time. Truly Estelle, the thick brick home built by John Nelson in the 1870s in downtown Logan, Utah is a testament to the pioneer spirit - and to the comforts afforded only by few in a time long past.

    This 2800+ sq ft home sat originally on 275 acres - encompassing a large portion of the Southwest Logan community. The home's strong, yet subtle, features represent attention to detail. While the lot size is much smaller now, after subdividing the property multiple times over the past century and almost a half, Estelle's .20 acre lot is ample - as she is the only 2-story house in the near neighborhood. Her widow's walk view extends from the temple to the Wellsvilles.

    "This must have been a fantastic place to grow up," commented renovator Scott Baird, who along with Ed Quinlan, has taken up the project. "The house originally had electricity (an electrical systems expert dated the system to the 1870s) and had five bedrooms. That's a big house for that era."

    Every doorway sports transoms, now covered with wood paneling or boards. Lowered ceilings hide heating ducts.

    "All that's got to go," Baird said. "Estelle deserves to be back in her true Logan glory."

    And glory is only one of the words you might use to describe the unique history behind Estelle.