Post-Demo Days Update (and Announcing a Demo Day for February)!

So, for two weekends in January, we had a huge crew of our friends come to Brenham and help us smash, bash, and chuck debris into a dumpster. The changes are colossal, but there’s still more to go.

First, we had to butter up the crew by showing them a good time in Brenham. Those early arrivers on the first weekend got introduced to our local Home Sweet Farm Market where we got to catch up, and those who didn’t know each other introduced themselves.


Our friend Miranda and my husband Heath in the biergarten of Home Sweet Farm Market.


Our friends Scott, Charity, and myself getting wacky at Home Sweet Farms Market in Brenham, Texas.

Many of our friends (including us), have at least one very little child, too young to help out at the Zeiss Building. So they got to have play time with each other at our temporary home.


All the “littles” stayed home out of the way, playing video games and running amuck.


Younger kiddos hanging out while the teens and adults worked.

We are so lucky to have found a place to rent that is a short walk from our renovation project. Made it very easy to run supplies, and helpers who needed a break (or injured themselves) could come back to take a break.


Miranda, the dog-whisperer, taking a break when she reactivated an old foot injury.

Here’s our entire crew from the first weekend, including my uncle, who is a licensed electrician, two of my husband’s coworkers (and one of their wives), a collection of friends old and new, and a pile of their teenage children.


First January 2016 Demo Day Crew

After work, we fed everyone, and those who were staying on to the next day showered off the dust. And then most of us moseyed back to Home Sweet Farm, which is also within an easy walking distance.


We had the sillies!


Very tired after a day of hard work.

Our crew made some awesome finds, like wall paper, and old signs.


Several different wallpaper samples that were uncovered. We’ve sent some to a framer to preserve them and hang them up in our new place somewhere. Fascinating note: They all had fabric backing.


Found between drywall and brick: House Rules for the Elks Lodge that was located on the second floor for many years.

Our crew the second weekend consisted of some of the same folks, and a few new ones. Due to a huge wine festival the first weekend, we were unable to occupy parking spots outside the building for a dumpster, so we had one for the second demolition weekend. My husband, Heath, built a great chute using leftover air-conditioning ducts. In addition to tearing down more walls, our crew filled an entire 30 yard dumpster in one weekend!

So many changes happened over those two weekends, it’s hard to document them all. The next four pictures are part of my “four corners” series.


View from the NE corner. All remaining drywall from this area is gone, and half of the shiplap and walls have been removed.


View from the NW corner. Half of the light fixtures are gone, thanks to my uncle. The walls in the center of the building (just behind the orange ladder) are nearly gone, as well as a lot of the unneeded duct work.


View from the SW corner. In the foreground is a pile of metal we’re collecting for recycling. The wall between this area and the dancefloor is gone, as is an unused AC duct and the drywall surrounding it.


View from the SE corner: Original window openings now exposed. All shiplap and drywall has been removed. Most of the debris will probably go in the dumpster, but any usable lumber will be reused.


View from the middle of the east wall. On the right are hand-made sawhorses that my husband constructed. The stack of lumber in the corner is waiting to have nails pulled from it so we can sand and reuse them. Straight ahead, this hallway is no longer a dark storage room, but flooded with light.

We have another demo weekend on Valentine’s Day! A lot of folks have off on Monday the 15th for Presidents Day, so we decided to throw together another work weekend. We’ll be working only a half day on Saturday, February the 13th, so anyone who is going out that evening will have plenty of time to clean up and relax. Sunday the 14th we’ll be up in the Zeiss Building as early as we can manage, but will put in a full day. We’ll do another half-day on Monday the 15th. Feel free to join us if you can – check your Facebook Events Page to find more details and sign up. Don’t make our kids do all the work! 😉


Our three kiddos (no, we don’t really let them work in the building).

So what’s next? After we take the last of the walls down, we’ll finish taking down the dropped ceilings and remove the ceiling tiles that are glued up in the main dancefloor area. We’ll also need to remove any remaining fans, lights, AC units, etc. And get even more debris out of our way. Hopefully, with a little help, we can knock out most of that list on our next demo weekend.

After the walls and the ceiling, comes the tricky part – removing flooring. We need to get a look at floor joists and parts of the subfloor. We’ll be soundproofing the floor, running plumbing and electric lines (as far as we know, there aren’t any right now), and anything else that needs to be done under our feet.

Removing the floors will be nearly the last step of our demolition process. The very last demolition section will be removing the wall that is on the back deck as well as the only existing (and functional) bathroom on the second level. Can I dream and say this will happen in April? Hah! Of course, before we remove the walls of the deck, we need to fix all of the flooring issues so we don’t flood our tenants on the ground floor.

Our Valentine’s Work Weekend will likely be the only official work weekend of February, however, we usually spend at least a few hours every Saturday and Sunday pounding away. Some of our local neighbors have been very diligent about helping us out at these times. So very grateful to get to borrow Tony and his teenagers!

Between our eldest’s birthday, spring break, and Easter, March is pretty much a wash as far as work goes, so look for future demo days happening in April.

After the floors are exposed, construction begins. When? I have no idea. For how long? Again, no idea, but I really dream of being settled in to our new home by Christmas 2016. A big dream. A very big dream.


In the news! (Sort of)

My parents, who live in the Dallas area, were watching the news this evening, and lo and behold, our building popped up in the background of an article about Blue Bell Ice Cream! The article discusses the economic downturn of Brenham since the factory closures and layoffs. If you watch the video below, right at the 0:55 mark you’ll see the nicely renovated grey three-story building, and a larger two-story green-ish building next to it. The two story is our building.

Thanks to my mom and dad for spotting our building’s 10 seconds of fame!

On the move!

Yes, we’re on the move, and we don’t mean moving from one place to another. We met with our two architects this week! Each one had a different style and approach to design after touring our loft. Now we wait to see what they can do with our ideas. Once we receive initial quotes and plans, we’ll have the tough job of deciding which architect to go with.

In the meantime, in an effort to help the kids make friends, we’ve signed them up for a whole bunch of classes that they started this week. And Heath and I went out on a date to a local market/biergarten to hear some live music. We even got to pick up some farm fresh goodies to take home with us at the end of the night! I’ve taken a break from doing historic research to research items for our loft. Today it was rooftop access doors and skylights. Just one of many things to think about and plan for our renovations.

Our temporary home in our townhouse is shaping up nicely. Still a handful of boxes to unpack, but we have our first visitors from our old hometown of Conroe arriving on Friday, so hopefully we’ll be in pretty good shape by then.

Overall, we’re doing great here in Brenham!

Photography: Past and Present

I am an assistant organizer for a large photography group called Houston Photowalks. After a suggestion from the head organizer, we set up a photoshoot (or photowalk as we call them in our group) to photograph the interior of our building. I know a lot of photographers, including myself, like to photograph odd objects, abandoned rooms, and the like. This was a great opportunity for our photographers to have access to our building’s upper floor. I kept the group limit small, just 25 photographers, but everyone seemed to be really excited to attend, and we even had a waiting list. We wanted to do the shoot before the weather got too hot, and before we started the renovations. The group is still uploading photographs to our group website, but keep checking this website for more really unique shots of the interior of our building. There’s even some incredible photographs of an interior closet where there’s normally no light.

After the photowalk, my husband and I took a walk around Brenham alone. This was a first – no kids, no distractions, just the two of us. And since it was a Sunday, it was really quiet. We peered in windows, getting more ideas for our own loft. We walked through a pretty spot in downtown that showcases a historic cistern – a very important rain-catching device, especially before modern water structures were put in to place. The area contains the cistern, a pretty urban flower garden, and several historical plaques retelling Brenham’s early history. Since we didn’t have our usual distractions (our urchins), we were able to more carefully examine every history plaque.

Union Soldiers March on Brenham

Union Soldiers March on Brenham

We were stunned to discover that one of them had a huge photograph of our building, showing Union soldiers marching by it! The original photograph is located in the Brenham Heritage Museum (and I’ll definitely research that later), but I took a quick snapshot with my phone’s camera. We are excited to see the original brick exterior, and the simple porch that covered the plank “sidewalk.” We discovered that the windows were not floor-length windows as we had previously assumed, but appear to be only waist-high, at least on the western-most window. In the photograph, our building was white-washed in the front, and left plain brick on most of the side. Our building runs from the left side of the photograph to the window and two doors in the middle of the picture. The last door will hopefully be our stairwell to our home, eventually. Fascinating find! I can’t wait to spend a few hours in the Brenham Heritage Museum doing research.

After our educational walk, we picked up the keys for our rental home for the next year – a lovely townhouse just two blocks away from the Zeiss Building. We’re so excited to have found a nice comfortable place to live while we renovate the Zeiss Building. It is probably bigger than we need, but we’re hoping that the extra space will give visitors helping us with renovations a place to crash for a night or two.

We also have a contract on our house in Conroe, and are half-way through the steps to process the sale. All is looking well in that department. If all continues to go smoothly, we’ll say good-bye to Conroe at the beginning of June.



A Visit to our Future Hometown

Today we took a jaunt westward to Brenham, taking a load of boxes with us to put in our storage unit there. Since it was a Saturday, downtown Brenham was quite lively. On our previous visits, we’d generally gone on a Sunday. Lots of locals and tourists having fun on the streets. We took a peek in some of the antique shops.


I found a bench I would love to buy and re-upholster, but $795 is too rich for our blood after paying all of those taxes.


The Bluebell Creamery is only open for tours Monday through Friday, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get a world of flavors in the local shops.


Even the baby made a new friend:


But best of all, I captured a preliminary video of our place. I hope to work with a friend on a better one in the future, but for now, take a closer look at the beginnings of our project: