Oh what fun a boy can have with a wrecking bar, especially in a house that needs some wrecking!
Late last year, I bought several houses in Detroit off of the Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction. They were all in pretty rough shape anyway, pretty much par for the course for vacant properties in Detroit. All the metal (wiring, plumbing, sinks, door locks, pulls off the dresser and cabinet doors, radiators, etc.) have been stripped. Paint and plaster are cracking and peeling. The fixtures are all smashed or stolen. The boilers/furnaces, hot water heaters, and appliances have all been stolen. And, they were all filled with trash and abandoned personal effects that are long-since ruined from mold, animals, homeless people, and the like.
Detroit is also very strict about lead-based paint, to the point where legally one cannot paint over it even if the paint is completely intact. It either has to be removed or encapsulated. This particular house was built in 1890 and converted (badly) into a duplex sometime in the '90s. This particular house also has been occupied by squatters and drug dealers for the past several months, and it's only been within the last month that I finally got it back under my control and them out. They had rigged up the electricity illegally (and damn near burned the house down), used the bathrooms with no running water, and all around made a mess.
So today, I started gutting this house, and oh my god, what fun! I started by ripping out the closet previous owners had installed in the original living room (they'd made it a bedroom) and trying to figure out what they might have done to the structure. It's genuinely amazing what a determined individual with a good wrecking bar can do!
As it turned out, they had filled in about half the arch between the living room and dining room and cut a hole in part of the wall to accommodate a closet for the adjacent bedroom. It also seems like there was a gut renovation done in the 1960s. Most of the original plaster was ripped out and replaced by drywall (sadly, the original mouldings and any artisinal plasterwork apparently got ripped out too). But, they also used a metric fuckton of old advertising signs between the drywall and studs. Aside from the humor of the old ads, they were a pain to remove, since they were made of particle board that came up in little pieces.
Anyway, some pics. Also, if you ever get the chance, buy a busted up house and do some demolition inside!