After the elephants left the building (http://www.studiohammetthome.com/blog/2016/2/29/3-asian-elephants-1) we basked in the swept out clarity of the empty space. Imagining the future was easier without wading through (and over and under) the wreckage of the past. If the first triumph was closing on the property, the second was standing in the middle of the airy, cleared out 2nd floor with pure potential staring back.
From here, the plan was to break open the interior walls and ceilings, and pry up the floor to inspect the beams, joists and studs. Much of what the firemen hadn't stormed through was beyond salvation, and worse, there were golden zones of dry rot hollowing the walls and floors to brittle. If Phase 1 was meeting the specter of the past, Phase 2 was confronting the gremlins of the present.
Dismantling the craft of late 19th century builders is both physically and mentally challenging. The workmanship was thorough and painstaking...and very hard to undermine. It took a while to hone my technique. Tap tap tapping with my crowbar felt productive until I turned to see Malcolm wailing away on a stretch of wall with a sledge hammer. Boom crumble boom crumble. Inch by inch, we knocked down the plaster then popped off the infinite wood lathe one stick at a time. Despite the interior zones of decay, however, the outer shell is charred but sturdy and I am lobbying hard to leave up as much of its old-timey, rock solid, irreplaceable, history laden, don't-make-it-like-they-used-to plasterwork as is feasible and prudent. There are few things more uninspiring to me than modern sheetrock and dismantling some of these walls physically pained me.
But, counseled by common sense and necessity, we did it. And so, we were rubble shovelers once again. Mini mountains of bags began to grow on each floor in anticipation of Dumpster Day #2. (BTW shoveling rubble with wood lathe sticks mixed in is a major PITA). As we busted through pockets of rusty orange dry rot, a golden halo of dust fell over the bags and when the sunbeams slanted in through the boarded up windows onto the old cash register, it was like standing inside an old sepia toned photograph. It was a rugged mountain of trash and it was beautiful.