The Best Laid Plans

After all our assorted ceiling work over the years, we had two remaining ceiling medallions left in the house. One in the front parlour, and one in the front hallway.

This weekend I showed you that the one in the front parlour had been taken down.

Ceiling medallion down

What I learned, yesterday, was kind of shocking. We had a walk-through with the electrical subcontractor to discuss his questions about the lighting plan. As we were discussing lighting in the hallway, and the location of the ceiling medallion setting the location of the chandelier to go there, the sub said we'd have to remove the ceiling medallion like they had upstairs, and then proceeded to tell us that in the process of removing the medallion he had broken it (because he thought it was wood and would pop off) and that he had thrown it away.

My reaction was... shock, panic, disbelief. I went through the range of responses. I was angry, but sad. I thought of all the photos I have of that medallion and how I could to try to match it from various supply houses that have original molds. Mostly I was stunned that anybody would think that was the appropriate response to a piece of the original trimwork of a historic house.

We had a long talk about it after work, and decided the best route was to take down the remaining medallion before anything happened to it. So Noel headed over and I went for a long walk to calm down (which was marginally successful; at least I got some decent exercise).

I was about halfway through my walk when Noel texted me this:

Hallway medallion down

One medallion, successfully protected from construction.

And I was walking up to the Admiralty when he texted me this:

Front bedroom medallion

My first thought was that he'd accidentally dropped the last remaining medallion, and I was heartbroken. Then I looked more carefully and realized it didn't have the star points of the hall medallion. He'd gone through the trash bins at the house and located most of the pieces of the front bedroom medallion for me.

Noel's text

Love is digging through trash bins

The plaster restoration people I've talked to say you really only need one good repeat of the medallion pattern to make a complete repair (medallions are usually six repeats of the same pattern around a center). I think we have that.

For those who are wondering what the contractor's response to this has been, I had a couple of good conversations with them about this and they were as shocked as I was, because this hardly seemed like it was something that needed to be communicated. It can the the things that seem the most obvious that are the most treacherous. So a renewed communication about the nature of restoration has gone out and we are back on the same page.

posted by ayse on 08/24/16


Reminds me of when my childhood home was being repaired after one our our infamous So. California earthquakes (mind you, I was long gone from the house by then). My mother came home to find one of the doors (original) missing from the first floor. When she became upset to learn it had been put into the dumpster (which was long gone), the contractor (NOT an expert it dealing with vintage homes), asked if she was "emotionally attached" to the door. My mother replied "No, but I was emotionally attached to the solid brass, original hardware." To his credit the contractor found the closest match to the hardware in solid brass and replaced every set on the second floor. It wasn't perfect, but at least each floor matched. Oh, how I miss that house!

Wow, that was really upsetting to read. I'm so glad you can salvage it. To lose it at this late date would be just heartbreaking.

I'm still sick when I think about how a contractor installing gutters on my bungalow sawed off the protruding rafter ends.

I have been there! Except the medallion fell down by itself. I was able to find an almost-identical one that was part fiberglass, so it was also a lot lighter than the original.

I am so happy your missing medallion was found...but what's made me a bit weepy is the text exchange between you two sweeties:)

Reminds me of the time dear hubby sent me an e-mail noting that the painters had decided to "re-parge" our 1844 structural brick house with Portland cement. And they drew the bricks into the new cement with their fingers.

Oh no. That is very bad. Facepalm is not strong enough. Headdesk is insufficient.

This whole thread makes me nauseous!

I'm going back to look at Noel's text. Because it makes me feel better.

Note: We're getting pummeled with spam comments, so I've turned off the ability to use any HTML or include any links for the time being. Email with any issues.

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