Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"Basement Flotsam"

The Beckley Register-Herald ran a nice story about Lafayette Flats in Sunday's paper (read it online here). In the article, reporter C.V. Moore perfectly captured this week's major task in one phrase: "Clearing out decades of basement flotsam."

On Monday, it took five people all day to remove most of the flotsam to a giant dumpster parked in front of the building. It's hard to believe that a 30' x 60' basement could hold enough junk to fill up a 30 cubic yard dumpster, but it did - and there will be a second dumpster soon to finish it off. For now, though, we have cleared enough space for the plumbers to work - which is our immediate concern.

When we bought the building we knew that the basement had a water problem because of the ever-present 1-2 inches of water and muck. But since it was so jam-packed with stuff, we couldn't be certain where the water was incurring and whether the drain system was working or not. With most of the stuff removed now, we are happy to report that the drain system is working well and we feel certain that we'll have a nice dry basement soon where Lafayette Flats guests can safely and securely store their bikes, paddle boards and small kayaks  during their stay.

Many people have asked what we found in the basement and if there were any treasures hidden there. There were a few treasures, but sadly most of the valuable and historic items had long since rotted past the point of salvage. The most heartbreaking example was a console Victrola record player that would have been a stunning addition to one of the flats had its wooden cabinet not been almost completely destroyed by rot.

Most of what was in the basement, though, had no value and frankly made us wonder why anyone ever kept it; like the dozens of small scrap pieces of carpet tied up into small rolls. There were hundreds of small boxes filled with of pipe fittings, nails, screws, switches and other hardware items. Bags and bags of petrified cement products, partial bags of sand and decorative stone, buckets of asphalt roofing tar and lots and lots of metal pipe scraps. Several large upholstered furniture items had turned into piles of rotted wood and fabric; some of them so far gone that they had to shoveled into trash cans to be carried out to the dumpster.

We did salvage a few cool items that we hope to use in the decor upstairs. More about those another time.

We're glad this part of the project is mostly behind us. We're also extremely thankful to Porter and Megan who came to our aid when our temporary labor agency dropped the ball. We would not have gotten this monumental task done without these two extraordinarily hardworking and capable people. "Thank you" is not enough; if you know these two, give them a hug for us the next time you see them.

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