Built like a brick… chimney!

Mar 13, 2023 | 0 comments

West Side of Our House, 1964 showing lower chimney

There are some things I have always just taken for granted, I am somewhat chagrined to report.  One of those is this old house in Oysterville that has been here since 1869.  Though I’m not sure exactly who built it, I suspect it was Charles Beaver who was living in the village then and was beginning his career that culminated in the creation of Seaview.

Ten Years Ago — Ferns Began Growing Out of the Chimneh

He built this house for the Tom Crellin family and it was purchased by my great-grandfather in 1902. As is often the way in this neck of the woods, our family has been in touch with their family over the course of five generations.  Through that long association, we know a great deal about the house and its amenities — some would say its “peculiarities.”  The Crellins brought the plans from the Isle of Man where they had lived for some time — maybe centuries — and both our house and “The Bottle House” a block to the north — were built using that same set of plans. Our house has changed very little over the years; the other house (the John Crellin House) has changed considerably.

Not too long ago, a member of the Washington State Preservation Office, on a visit to Oysterville, asked me when “the  lower part of the house had been added.”  When I responded that it was a part of the original house, he gave me that patronizing look of disbelief that those who are partially informed seem to assume — especially when an uncredentialed person “corrects” their mis-impression.  Oh well.

ChimCare at Our Gate

Suffice it to say that although the lower structure was, indeed, an integral part of the building from 1869 onwards, it served utilitarian purposes for a number of years — a meat-hanging room, a woodshed, a laundry my mother remembered.  Then, in 1910 or 1911, there was a chimney fire in the (then) kitchen and my grandmother saw “an opportunity.”  The burned portion was gutted and became my grandmother’s dream library and, when all was said and done, the one-story part of the house was converted to a living room, dining room and kitchen.  (I refer to that remodel as “when my grandmother moved West.” The kitchen stove and living room fireplace were back to back and shared the same chimney.

Setting Up on the Back Side

Which brings us to today — 110-some years later.  Finally, the chimney has failed — not just the mortar, but the bricks, too, have begun to wick water and crumble. leading to instability and scary falling-down-chimney thoughts.  With all the patch-patch-patching over the years, replacing the chimney was never on my radar at all!  The work begins today!


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