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March 13, 2010

At Home: Project a bonding experience

PENDLETON — When a four-year project goes on for seven years, the result is often a strained marriage.

But not for Eric and Helen Reske — if anything, it was a rejuvenation for the couple who had then been married for 33 years.

Buying the 1904 home with an eye on not just renovating it, but renovating it to the exact original state, the two “old house buffs” had a whole new treasure trove of topics to discuss.

“It was such a conversation piece,” said Eric, a retired civil engineer from Beam, Longest and Neff. “We’d go out to dinner and two hours would just fly by.”

Not only did decisions about colors and wallpapers and furniture have to be made, but more fundamental choices that affected the structure had to be discussed, such as the best way to raise a sagging ceiling and how to restore original hardwood floors without a belt sander.

Beginning in 1989 with the outside, the couple repointed bricks and repaired the roof and gutters. Eric did a good deal of the work himself, especially in crafting the missing porch spindles and the corbels underneath the gutters.

Working off a picture of the home as originally built by a member of Silver family, the Reskes converted the modernized front porch back to the original look. Eric’s civil engineer experience came into play as he calibrated measurements from the old photograph.

Not content to merely use his skills outside the home, inside he could tell that the ceiling was starting to sag by the grand staircase. A lengthy discussion ensued as they tried to decide whether to push the ceiling up with an added column or pull the ceiling up through a closet on the second floor.

Finally determining the character of the home demanded the latter, they began the process of realigning the ceiling by raising it the two inches that it had lagged.

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