Brilliant Man Turns 184-Year-Old Ruins Into Something Most Homeowners Would Kill For

Two centuries can do a lot of damage to any property, even if it was originally well-constructed. Weather is a big factor in harming an old structure, but if there isn’t anyone working on the upkeep over the years, then the building can easily fall into total disrepair. However, if someone eventually comes along who is willing to restore it, a historic property can still be transformed back to its former glory.

That’s exactly what happened when Imgur user BlacksmithSam set out to restore a small building near his family home, which was constructed by a man named Ephram Woodworth back in the early 1800s.

Needless to say, this restoration was going to take a whole lot of ingenuity…

(Would you rather restore an old property, or just simply build a brand new one? Let us know in the comments below, and then be sure to leave us a like and to hit subscribe for more!)


BlacksmithSam / imgur

This house was originally constructed in 1833 by Ephram Woodworth. After learning that the government was building a roadway between Milwaukee and Green Bay, he claimed unused land for this small building, which he lived in while planning a larger place for his family.


BlacksmithSam / imgur

Nearly two centuries later, the larger property houses new residents: Imgur user BlacksmithSam and his wife. In March of 2016, BlacksmithSam decided to restore Ephram’s first property to its former state to use as a workshop.

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The community architectural board loved the idea, though they agreed with the city that it was a crazy plan. Who would want to put all that work into this run-down house? Well, BlacksmithSam saw things differently. He wrote on Imgur, “How can you just level out 184 years of history?” He couldn’t bear to see it torn down or continue sitting there unused.

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Before he did anything else, BlacksmithSam had to level out the floor. He started with a gravel foundation, then spread out three layers of a concrete and mortar mixture on top.

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Unfortunately, inclement weather was unavoidable, and it slowed down the project considerably. Every time it rained, Sam lost mortar and would have to redo the walls all over again.

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The floor’s finishing layer had to be low in chert and high in fiber to ensure that it would not be porous and could handle high-impact contact. Why these specifications? BlacksmithSam joked, “Check the user name.” Since he planned to use this house as his blacksmithing workspace, it was imperative that the floor was able to absorb the impact without cracking or becoming damaged in case heavy objects fell on the ground.

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He spent months chiseling and tuck-pointing the walls. He also repaired the cracked and missing mortar in order for the stone to be waterproof and sealed against the outside elements. In order to tuck-point the walls, Sam applied the mortar using a pie-shaped tool called a pointing trowel. He forced the mortar into the vertical joints, and removed excess in order to align the new mixture with existing mortar. He used a brick jointer to keep everything smooth and uniform.

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By August 2016, all the walls were finished and it was time to move on to digging and pouring the foundation of the missing wall. Sam wrote that, sometime in the 1980s or ’90s, someone removed the fourth wall of the house in order to use the stone for a flower garden in the front yard. Incredibly, he decided to use those same exact stones to restore the wall!

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BlacksmithSam used a one-way moisture sealant on the walls to keep all moisture from seeping into the house. It took an astounding 16 yards of concrete to fill up the foundation.

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It was too expensive for Sam to build the fourth wall exactly as it had originally been built, and the city would not allow it either way. Instead, he planned to make it look just like the other walls later on. First, he’d have to build the wall with these concrete blocks.

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In order to produce enough mortar and concrete for this job, BlacksmithSam had two mixers constantly working in the background.

To match the two walls next to his new one, Sam’s mason had to measure and hand-cut each block individually.

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Sam wanted to match the original mortar mixture perfectly with the rest of the house, so he sent samples of the mortar to the University of Wisconsin, where its chemical makeup was analyzed. From there, BlacksmithSam was able to mix the mortar just like Ephram did all those years ago. It looked darker than the rest of the house, but in two years or so, it would all match up perfectly.

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Sam and his crew could only build up the wall a few feet at a time, or else it would come tumbling down on them and they’d have to start over. They called it a “labor of love.” This gives us some idea of how slow-going construction must have been for Ephram back in the 1800s, who didn’t even have access to modern tools!

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They had to repeat this process on the inside of the house, too! It must have felt like it was taking forever, but it was this method that would eventually make the restoration a success.

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Finally, BlacksmithSam and his team finished the fourth wall. It looked like it had never been taken down in the first place! The next big task was figuring out how to recreate the roof…

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Sam found some photos of the building from the 1960s. With the leaves already off the trees, this would have to be one fast reconstruction. The crew aimed to design the roof as closely as possible to its original state.

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Using nothing but cedar wood, the team successfully finished the roof before 2016’s first snowfall. After months and months of hard labor, the biggest parts of the house were finished! Lastly, the house needed new doors.smithy20BlacksmithSam / imgur

Sam used cedar for the new doors as well, and by the first snowfall, everything was done. The old house was completely restored to its original glory!

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Sam was excited that he could start using the inside for his workshop right away. He planned to move things around as he worked in the space, but at least he was all moved in and ready to start on his next project.

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Here is BlacksmithSam with his dog, Penny. Both are happy as can be to enjoy the wonderful restoration that Sam worked hard on for most of 2016!

(What do you think of Sam’s incredible restoration skills? Let us know in the comments section below, and then don’t forget to leave this story a like and to subscribe for more!)

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