Strange urges down in the basement.

I’ve never been able to make up my mind definitively when it comes to structural preservation. Strip my carefully orchestrated opinion down to the basics and I think old stuff simply looks a whole lot better. And while it’s always made me feel sad to see old places being dismantled, buying a condo in a 98-year-old building has helped me at least sympathize with those who believe in knocking things down and starting over. Ultimately, I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And the beholder could be a whole range of different people—me, developers, grouchy architects, outspoken neighbors or modern types who like water pressure and feel a little uncomfortable when the lights flicker for no apparent reason.

All debate aside, I was wandering around the basement this morning while I waited for a load of laundry to finish drying and discovered the mother load of old doors. Seemingly insignificant to most intelligent life, I was completely beside myself. With my trusty mini multi-tool in my pocket, I removed the doorknob hardware from one of the doors. With intricate designs pressed into each piece, my excitement faded a bit when I realized the back plates, knobs and lock assembly were covered in about 14 layers of white rusty paint and not entirely functional.

I’m not sure what my next move will be. I have visions of “refurbishing” eight or nine of them, but worry the end result might not be worth the time. A lot can be done with paint remover and wire brushes, but I’m just not sure that’s a healthy way to sacrifice a weekend or two. Fair warning: make sure you’re up on your Tetanus shots before you come by the house—I suspect there will soon be a bunch of crusty old knobs hanging from the doors next time you ring the bell.


One thought on “Strange urges down in the basement.

  1. Laura Churchman says:

    Curtis, I have the solution for you. A friend of ours bought an old Victorian here in Missoula and found all sorts of beautifully detailed fixtures. Her secret – a crock pot. I found a link from This Old House with the instructions, check it:,,20055784,00.html

    Hope you’re well. Don’t get lockjaw.

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