On the first floor, the kitchen required intensive restoration by removing the floor, starting on the northwest corner. This revealed evidence of a doorway which opened opposite the south wall of the Heller House, giving easy access to the nearby root cellar.
The fireplace hearth and beehive oven were restored back to their original condition with the removal of stone and debris, “enough to fill a dump truck,” said Erickson. The beehive oven requires an exterior door to remove burned ash, according to Erickson, which was sealed over years earlier. The chimney still needs work to draw an adequate draft up the flue so smoke doesn’t billow into the room.
The kitchen ceiling was replastered. As in the cellar, the knob and tube electric service was removed from the kitchen and the entire building. New electric service was installed according to code, allowing period wall lights to illuminate the rooms.
The second floor interior walls revealed a few surprises: horse and hog hair mixed with the mortar for the stone walls, then several layers of plaster covered the stone. The discovery of a thin layer of canvas, most likely adhered to the plaster with wheat paste was covered with a lime green and/or red oxide paint applied on the surface.
The attic floor was cleaned of a layer of coal dust. This enabled air conditioning ductwork to be concealed.
With the foresight of former owners and a little bit of luck, Erickson discovered in the nearby garage all of the original exterior doors to the Widow’s House with original hardware. Once cleaned and stripped of several layers of paint, the doors will be hung in their perspective doorways.
Lastly, all c.1950 aluminum storm windows and screens were removed. Future projects include the restoration of original windows, from mullions to glass.
When the two original door entries into the building are installed and the restored doors hung, the two porches in front of the doors will be researched and rebuilt. These were removed well after 1923 with new ownership, and depending on their condition, may have been removed due to their age and condition