Plank house in Medina

1828 mortise joinery in floor beams
1828 mortise joinery in floor beams

I started snooping through a hard-to-get-to attic space  and I found these huge planks sticking up.  Some are  2-1/2″ to 3″ in thickness and almost 2 feet wide. I originally thought that maybe I’d found an old area where they kept horses or cows, but I continued exploring and guess what? The whole house is made of solid wood planks.  The planks are fastened to thick wood beams. It looks like they used hand-forged nails to fasten the planks to the beams. I’ve been building for 50 years and ever encountered construction like this. This is so cool!

floor beam is mortised into the middle of main beam just above the crack

After checking the internet, I found out that the construction is actually called “wood plank” construction. Traditional construction usually uses 2×4’s to frame the walls and then a sheathing of some kind is installed to add strength. But with 3″ thick walls you don’t need anything else for strength.

Considering that the house was built in about 1828, I’m thinking that it might have been important  to build that way. It would definitely stop an arrow or a musket ball.

this is the 1st. floor bathroom. It used to have a window to the outside.
this is the 1st. floor bathroom. It used to have a window to the outside.

I haven’t figured out yet just how many board feet of old growth lumber is on the sides of the house, but I do know it would make some great furniture. Is the house more valuable as scrap wood? hmmm?

I found a great site that explains plank houses in detail. It’s called Old House Web. It turns out that this style of building is as old as trees. The plank house construction is seen in Japan, Europe, as well as the United States.

The plank house style can be either vertical plank or horizontal plank. The main difference between plank houses and modern houses is the lack of traditional framing with 2×4’s or 2×6’s. The strength comes instead from the thick planks. Who needs 2×4 walls when the wall itself is solid 3″ wood?

We Did It !

We drove up to Medina on the 4th of October and signed on the 5th. At the courthouse in Albion we met the attorney and signed the papers. Suzanne is now “officially” a citizen of the great state of Medina.

Wednesday afternoon I worked at repairing the wiring and the panel to get the house powered up and going. Thursday morning at 8:05 am. National Grid slapped the meter in and the lights went on. Suzanne and I went down to the Village office and an hour later they had the water on. It leaked of course. I had to tighten up the leaky valves.

Suzanne is deep in “design” thought

I repaired a toilet and a sink that evidently was not plumbed into anything but just emptied into the basement. A thousand trips to the hardware store and we were set…almost.

Now we had to get the heater fired up. Thursday the gas company showed up. The furnace is so old I think the old weathered label inside says “natural Gas” and “Buy War Bonds”. Ok, I may be exaggerating, but the gas man says it was at least 50 years old. Guess what? It worked!

view from the dining room
view from the dining room

Friday we worked fixing stuff and hanging curtains. Suzanne is already decorating. She’s bought a floor lamp and a picture for the dining room.

There is  a lot of work to do. The heating system needs to be completely replaced. A new furnace will use about 60% of the gas the present unit burns. (mucho dinero) The ducts on the second floor are mysteriously not even connected to the furnace. It looks like somebody started to run ducts  to the second floor once upon a time, but didn’t finish.


The water lines have been repaired so many times The solder is just about all you see in some spots. But all in all, I hope I look this good when I’m 190 years old.

Here are some more pictures.




the living room
Maybe some new cabinets?








Closing next week !

We signed the papers on Labor day weekend, so its been over three weeks so far. We are still waiting to hear when the closing will be. I’m guessing that next week, or the first week in October, we will be heading up to sign the final papers and take possession of our newest and probably last house. I only hope it doesn’t fall down from old age before I do. I can look at Suzanne anytime now and see that “decorating my new home in my head” look on her face. She’s “Medina Dreaming.”

Wait! The phone just rang. The lawyer’s office says   . .  .”We close on October 5,” next Wednesday.

Finally, One week until the adventure begins.

Waiting . . . . . . .

Well, we jumped in our little gray Camry and zipped up to Medina on Labor Day weekend. We met the realtor at the house Sunday morning and finally looked at our prize.

We signed the contract later in the morning and she had to overnight them to HUD so that they would receive them by Wednesday night. (or they cancel the whole deal and start over) Only the government can be so idiotic.

Today we heard that the closing attorney has received the closing package and is working on the final docs. So, we might actually close  within 30 days of the acceptance  of our offer.

It would seem that someone (God probably) wants us in this house.

I’m starting to look for some flannel underwear.

She’s Back . . . almost

This morning, we checked out the house at 508 W. Center and then signed the application for the home. It must be sent to HUD within 48 hours. The government is very particular and demands promptness of others. Supposedly we will close within 30 days.  Then it can truly be said, “she’s back, Medina!”

Suzanne is happy as a school child.  (isn’t she always?)

Here are some pictures of how it looks now


housey (2)
watch your step

diggin’ the socks, right?
Dining room



Our HUD bid is accepted !

Well, it’s been a long week of waiting. We put in our bid 7 days ago and we waited, and waited, and waited, but Rita Zambito just called Suzanne with the news. Our bid was accepted. We are now the proud “almost owners” of one of western New York’s finest HUD homes.

Since it’s the Labor Day weekend and everyone will be on the road celebrating, we have decided to join them and drive up to Medina tomorrow  (Saturday) to view our new baby.

Now we must run the gauntlet of HUD application hurdles starting with getting the entire signed package to HUD in two business days.


stay tuned ….