Clearly this has been the mother of all home improvement projects. Initially I wanted nothing more than to rip out the metal, fill the hole and call it a day.
Sandra wouldn't have it---she had a vision. After every bit of two years & the help of good friends, it finally came to fruition in Aug. '06. (thank God!)
Initially there was a veritable forest growing up through the dirt floor; including a TREE that Sandra chopped out with an axe!
As far as I can tell, this was built from scratch by Everett Mason, a shop teacher in Kokomo Center Schools. He & his wife lived here from 1937 to 1991. The entire backyard was a garden at one time. He interestingly "sunk" the greenhouse about 3-4 feet below ground. You walk up a few stairs from our basement to enter.
The crumbling wall (left) had to be completely rebricked. It was a simple demolition--the bricks could pretty much be removed by hand.
Once I started rebricking I quickly learned why masonry is a skilled trade. Much harder than it looks!
Glass, ancient glazing and decades of rust had to be removed. There were brick planters (floor pic right) that had to be demo'd.
The metal alone was a huge project. First we bought an angle grinder to remove the thick rust & the glaze that a putty knife couldn't remove. Next was applying a chemical rust inhibitor by brush. Then came a rust resistant primer. Finally Rustoleum paint. Going from the left picture to the right was a long process.
Everett put in a simple & very cool skylight. It looked like it had been inoperable for quite some time before we got here. Cranking it open for the first time was indeed a great feeling.
George is a great friend & he was a big help with the wooden frame & cutting the dreaded plexiglass
The only wood in the greenhouse serves as the frame for the skylight. We used a 4" x 4" cedar post to reproduce Everett's original piece. Fortunately there was enough of the original left to serve as a template.
We hauled out a pick-up truck load of dirt from the floor to make room for a paver floor. We didn't think kicking up a bunch of loose dry dirt in a room of plexiglass was such a cool idea ;-)
Suzanne, Sandra & the kids put this floor in all by themselves! For the record, Sandra probably did as much or more of the labor on this entire project. George & Suzanne are special people to us. The "Kokomo bricks" that were part of the original steps stayed.
I was able to bring the crank for the skylight back to life, but it needed a new handle.
Sandra offered to sacrifice a gardening tool, which made for a great look.
The cable goes from the crank to a wheel overhead. Turn the crank one way to raise the skylight & turn it the other to lower. Works great now!
Cutting the 46 pieces of plexiglass in the hot sun was hellish. George & I spent an 8-hour day custom-cutting each pane with a circular saw with a fairly fine-toothed blade--and still didn't get them all done! (It did cut great.)
Each pane was unique---every one custom cut. I used the diagram to keep the pieces straight, taping a number to each cut piece.
My good friend Q hooked us up with someone who was getting rid of 10 (4 x 8) sheets of plexiglass still with the protective coating on for $50 each. (That's better than HALF the retail price---SCORE!!) Ironically the people bought the plexi because they were going to build a greenhouse--they finally bought a kit instead ;-)
Looks like a nice spot for Saturday morning coffee...