The love story behind this old home

  • By Blog Owner
  • 05 Aug, 2016

How our St Johnsbury old home came into our lives. 

Some of you may know and some of you may not, but we are renovating our home in St Johnsbury Vermont. This isn't just any old home, it's an old home with a beautiful love story. The story and history behind this home could go on for days, but the main point is how much their love story has inspired the character and hard work going into this gut job. Ed and Ruth Crane grew old together in this home, celebrating a whopping sixty-eight anniversaries together under it's roof.  Sixty-eight years worth of memories. Beautiful.
Knowing each other since they were children, Ed and Ruth had spent a lot of time together growing up. When Ed deployed to Italy during WW2, Ruth maintained contact with him through writing letters to him on a regular basis. After four long years of faithful service with the Army AirCorps, Ed returned and went separate ways from the military. They were married shortly there after and made the investment of a whopping $5,000 in a larger piece of land with a quaint little home on it in 1946. This is where the real story comes in, the life they built together in this old home. 
The investment they made paid off big- in way more ways than one. The farm proved wonderful for blessing them with plenty of bounty. They worked extremely hard to run a chicken farm while producing enough goods from the land to provide for their family. He knew fruits, vegetables and trees. She knew the wildlife, flowers and the weather that surrounded them. Together, they were able to find the perfect combination of skills to provide for their rapidly growing family.  Over an eight year period, they had five wonderful boys. The home only has one bathroom, so I'd imagine it got rather cramped at times. With limited space, they made the best of it with Ruth's extremely organized manner. Meals were scheduled, shower time was allotted and chores were a shared responsibility. Over the years, they made minor adjustments to the house to accommodate their lives. Probably the most profound change they made(probably Ruth's favorite too) was upgrading her wood burning stove she used to cook on to an electric stove and then to a full kitchen in the 70's.
As time went on and the boys got older, they did away with the chickens. Ed and Ruth became extremely involved with their community. Ed was part of the state legislature for 17 years while Ruth volunteered at the museum. As time went on, she was hired on as a full time staff member(her organizational skills came in handy for this one.) Through the years, they accomplished many things under this old home's roof together. The greatest accomplishment in my eyes is the legacy they left to be carried on. Their family(*photo credit to Peter Crane.) Still missing a lot of family in California. 
'Poppy and Grammy' moved into the Saint Johnsbury Health and Rehab clinic in 2014. Sixty. Eight... Sixty-eight beautiful, loved filled years under one old roof. <3 They lived happily together for almost two more years before Grammy sadly passed away this past May. Poppy is still doing well despite really missing Ruth. He still cracks some pretty good jokes and maintains his desire for dessert. 

My husband- Paul, daughter- Kadynce and I moved into this old home in 2015 after Paul separated from the Marine Corps. We found out we were pregnant four months later with baby boy Klyde, born June 24, 2016. I'm noticing some trends... But I love the trends this family has. 

We decided while we were still pregnant that the house needed some SERIOUS work. Paul's dad/ Ed's son, Stan, agreed to help Paul take on this HUGE project. It's not Stans first rodeo though, he built the home Paul and his sister Becky grew up in down in Etna, NH. Now they are taking on the house that Stan and his four brothers grew up in. This will be an ongoing documentation of the rehabilitation of this old home. 
I'd love to hear your feed back on this project as well as any memories the family would like to share that took place in this old home. Feel free to  share with anyone who might be interested in following the progress of this project: This Old Home. 

Trace Elements Photography Blog

By Blog Owner 11 Jul, 2017
Ooh boy! What a crunch we have been on to get everything done in this house the past couple months! I know its been a while since I have updated, the guys both took the Winter off and our project hit a stand still... at least for a little bit. Things have been moving really quickly as of lately, a lot of the remaining work has been completed by contractors. With my persistence, they have remained (ALMOST completely) on schedule. 
By Blog Owner 02 Nov, 2016
Going through the archives of this kick@$$ couples special day, I couldn't help but crack a beer. NOT because it was stressful or anything along those lines, but because going through these wonderful memories makes me wish I was closer to crack a brewski with these awesome people for their second anniversary. Paul & Kate's special day took place on November 1st, 2014. TWO YEARS already! I still remember the details of their day like it was yesterday. Paul & Kate, this ones for you. 
By Blog Owner 25 Oct, 2016
To start- I want to throw a HUGE thank you to everyone out there who has shared this process or has commented with your kind thoughts and appreciation. If you are just joining our journey along this renovation project, be sure to start at the beginning to fully appreciate this home as much as we do. If you want to make sure you have read each step along the way, check out the full blog . If you are up to speed, I owe you an explanation of the plan with the home, probably should have given one earlier! Above, you can see we have extended the second floor out to match the first floor. This turned our bedroom into a 'Master' bedroom. We are also adding two bathrooms(on the right.) One will be for the kids, the other will be a master bathroom (!!!!!!!!! :D) 
By Blog Owner 04 Oct, 2016
Originally, this tree was destined to just rot away. It really didn't serve a good purpose, its defect made it a terrible option for lumber because it would just crack and split. I had no idea Stan & Paul even cut this beauty down, but I understand their reasoning for doing so; this tree should not reproduce as it could pass on its unhealthy genetics. Makes sense. Stan explained this tree perfectly, "It is a result of genetic variation. The grain grew in a spiral or helix pattern rather than straight. It also has brashness or cracking instead of being totally solid. The ridges are its attempt to heal itself from the cracking. When we initially saw this tree I recommended just cutting it and leaving it to rot, since it wouldn't be good for traditional lumber. But then ‪Paul remembered it when we were looking for a large post for the stairs. After peeling some of the bark, we discovered more of the beauty. I am tempted to draw a parallel with human variations such as skin color or sexual orientation. Often our initial reaction is to shun whereas it is wiser to celebrate the beauty."
By Blog Owner 27 Sep, 2016
Though these were both taken with my iPhone, they give you a pretty good idea of how the bottom floor will look when completed. These are called panoramic shots and they conveniently combine multiple images to create one larger scene. These images do our home's beauty a little more justice than multiple angles could. 
By Blog Owner 17 Sep, 2016
I'm going to start out with a huge- 'what a nightmare this was!' That's as honest as I can be about foundation issues. Ugh! Anyways, just wanted to throw a HUGE thank you to everyone out there who has shared this process or has commented with your kind thoughts, appreciation and even some design input. ;D If you are just joining our journey along this renovation project, be sure to start at the beginning to fully appreciate this home as much as we do. If you want to make sure you have read each step along the way, check out the full blog.   If you are up to speed, this is what we just finished around the good ol' St J home. 
By Blog Owner 07 Sep, 2016
Our wood burning pile is(hopefully) as large as it is going to get. The entire house has been stripped in preparation for the renovation. The walls inside revealed that some of our home was most likely built with recycled, burned wood. The burned wood holds a story that I would love to hear, but my intentions are to keep the burned wood in our walls. We are going to salvage as much of it as possible and use it on either our bathroom wall or entry way. As much as possible, I'm going to keep the character in this home. 
By Blog Owner 29 Aug, 2016
When we first moved in, we had to remove the old window in the upstairs bedroom to get our beds in the house because the stairway was far to narrow. We updated all of our windows last fall with more energy efficient windows. This proved to be a problem when we went to remove the beds for the renovation because the windows were slightly smaller. This forced our first cuts on the house to be removed from the stairway. When they removed the first chunk of wall from the stairway, the excitement began to kick in. I could visualize the open floor plan I had been imagining since we decided to start this project. The overwhelming sensation of this being only the first step to a massive project kicked in shortly there after. 
By Blog Owner 23 Aug, 2016
There was so much being removed from this house that we decided to get a dumpster. Our house has lath and plaster walls- they are extremely heavy and are weighing on the structure of the home. When we first moved into the home, we had no intentions of a complete renovation. Curiousity got the better of us though while we were trying to guess what might be under the terrible white ceiling tiles. Was there going to be big long beautiful posts and beams? or maybe we would be able to see the flooring for the upstairs bedroom? What was up there we wondered... Well, we decided to go ahead and rip it down to find out. It was nothing nice. There was more lath and plaster under the tiles. This too, had to go. It was a nightmare to remove- its extremely heavy, dusty and just happened to have absorbed a massive amount of rodent urine over the past 100 years or so. As we removed the lath and plaster, we were bombarded by rodent nests filled with disgusting fecal matter falling from the ceiling. Many trash cans full of this waste later, we finally exposed what was hiding under there- rodent chewed, ugly floor joists. That is when I decided that one day, we would remove all of the lath boards, plaster and most importantly to me- all of the rodent contamination.  
By Blog Owner 09 Aug, 2016
We decided to go with Hemlock trees for the posts and beams in the home. The amount of work invested in just one post or beam can be overwhelming, but Paul and Stan came through and pulled it off. Finding straight, healthy trees was the easy part, the property has plenty to offer. Proper planning is vital. Knowing what sizes and how many trees needed avoids unnecessary work. All together, our home needed fourteen posts and ten beams. To achieve this goal, they cut down about six trees. Once cut down and cleaned up, the trees were dragged down to the lumber mill by the Kubota tractor.
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