And the chimneys come tumbling down

The house had two chimneys which were unused (they had been removed below the roofline several years earlier) and were actually crumbling. In some places the brick was so soft you could turn it into powder with your fingers.

We considered several options, the first being to just leave them in place. But in one case, the chimney had sagged to the point where it pushed against and cracked the plaster surrounding it — not a sign that bode well for the future. And we decided that the space left by their removal would be useful. So, out they came.

I started in the attic with a 3-pound hammer, breaking bricks off and dropping them down the chimney.

Once we were below the level of the attic floor, Sue took over, breaking the bricks off one by one and tossing them out the window. She worked the second and first floors, and then I resumed the project down in the basement.

The work was filthy. In addition to the dust from the brick, the chimney was filled with more than a hundred years of soot — I don’t think it had ever been cleaned.

Getting rid of the brick proved to be difficult. Even FREE ads on Craigslist only moved a small amount. In the end, we used it as fill to bring up the slope around the house, a decision that seemed good at the time, but I now regret everytime I try to dig a posthole in the brick-filled yard.

Sue at work on the second floor.

Despite the softness of the brick, it was slow going.

Once removed, the bricks went out the window into the side yard.

With the chimney gone, we had another couple square feet of space.

And a potential dumbwaiter shaft... it's a long way down to the basement.

This was our "dining room," during the construction process, which actually did become the real dining room.

The chimney demo took place in the spring, right around Mother's Day. After a day of wielding the sledgehammer, Sue arrived home to find this from her son, Sam.

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