My Old House Online

An online community for people who love old houses.

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  • Williamsport, PA
  • United States
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Phil's Friends

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  • BenningtonColonial
  • Karan Andrea
  • Ashling
  • KenK
  • Dave H.
  • Charles J
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  • Martin
  • Susan Scofield
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Phil's Page

Latest Activity

Phil replied to Dave Schwinn's discussion Tuck pointing or filling very deep holes in stone foundation in difficult to access area
"The beauty of below-porch pointing is that sloppiness doesn't show.  Wet it and fill it without the need for extreme neatness, mureatic acid, etc.  Shouldn't that then be at least a little easier?  One thing is sure,…"
Oct 12
Phil replied to william c. dalton's discussion Liquid vinyl spray
"Do you mean to restore the existing ones with the spray vinyl?  Modern paints are essentially liquid plastics anyway, so if so then just paint them.  A good scraping and painting will last for 15 years and can likely be done by a couple of…"
Oct 12
Phil replied to Karin Deal's discussion Furnace/Radiators question - House built in 1895
"Franz is correct.  People with home inspection businesses know next to nothing about old houses.  I have _never_ heard of anyone who was pleased with their inspector when asked a year later.  I would bring in a steam man and a…"
Oct 6
Phil replied to Phil's discussion Old slate removed, and the new slate going on.
"More progress. "
Sep 17
Phil replied to Ryan Hill's discussion Need Help Identifying Age of Home
"I agree that deeds and fire maps are a good way to go.  Also, if your town has City Directories stored at your library or historical society (like phone books, but for all households, and indexed by name and street address), then those can pin…"
Sep 11
KenK replied to Phil's discussion Old slate removed, and the new slate going on.
"Very nice slate!!!    Nothing beats the look of genuine slate...which will last a gazillion years!!!  Cool!!!! "
Sep 8
Phil left a comment for Caleb J Buller
"An architectural salvage yard likely will have what you want. "
Sep 3
Phil replied to Phil's discussion Old slate removed, and the new slate going on.
"I would be worried about the install if I was doing it myself, but I have a pro on the case.  He learned slate roofing from his Lancaster County roofer father and went to trade school for the sheet metal work. Then he apprenticed with a slate…"
Aug 29

Profile Information

Tell us about yourself:
My family has lived in a c. 1895 Queen Anne Victorian since 1995. I am an economist.
Tell us about your old-house experiences and dreams:
Over the years I have slowly learned about how it was built and how to maintain it, as well as how not to maintain it. Whenever possible, I try to use original materials or ones that could have been used originally, or at the very least ones that look like those materials.

My house had many original elements, and I have maintained or restored most of those. Other things like lighting and doorknobs had been "upgraded" over time, so I spent the better part of 10 years haunting antique shops and ebay to find replacements that matched the style and level of my house. In the case of lighting, we have only one original gas fixture in our entry. I have tried to purchase a restrained level of gas lighting for the rest of the house, avoiding the temptation of lighting that would have been too fancy for my nice, but ultimately middle class Victorian. Lighting of that type is surprisingly cheap (much cheaper than repro), and I enjoyed collecting them.

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Phil's Blog

Slate countertops

The slate countertops are almost in now.  Our contractors drove to the quarry (Penn Big Bed Slate Co) to get the pieces that they had ordered for our three counters that we are doing in slate.  It looks a medium dark gray from the quarry.  After they cut it to exact size and installed it, they rubbed it with mineral oil to seal it, and that darkened it to a near black color.  The picture with the sink in it is still in process and without the mineral oil, while the other ones have…


Posted on July 8, 2014 at 12:22am

Kitchen exhaust system

We have never had an exhaust fan in our kitchen and were getting tired of the smoke alarm going off every time we broail or fry things.  But we have an exposed chimney behind our range that we did not want to add a hood to.  So, we decided to put a flush mount system in.  Our contractors opened up the brick into one of the flues,and installed a metal exhaust pipe in that. On ebay we bought a round cast iron register in the same pattern as our kitchen forced air register, and then they…


Posted on July 8, 2014 at 12:11am

Cabinet latches, salvaged cast iron

Posted on June 7, 2014 at 10:17am

Progress on the kitchen.

Posted on May 30, 2014 at 1:26pm

Comment Wall (27 comments)

At 9:13am on September 15, 2008, Eden said…
Hey Phil

I only have access to email on weekdays, so am just getting back to you. I bought my home in 1999 and after striping paint off a front porch column and woodwork in the kitchen, I found stamped in ink, NTY Wm. H, Shugars, Gordon VanTine, plus the backs of the basment steps had blue #s handwritten on them. Shugars was the original owner on my deed, 1912.

While searching for information, I asked folks on another forum if they knew of this company. Lucky for me, the GVT expert saw my quest that day and asked for a picture of my home. He ID'd it from GVT's Book of Plans, 1912-1915/1916, House Plan #122. This company was a competitor of Sears. He sent me a copy of that book of plans and a black and white photo to hang in my foyer, I think I paid him $10. A plan house differs from a kit house whereby it"s the same house you would buy as a kit but the carpenter would cut the lumber from the plan house blueprints< thus saving money There are many companies that sold these kit and plan homes darn computer will not let me type comma and periods so I will send this now
At 11:13pm on September 16, 2008, Demetra said…
I'm with you Phil. That roof should be slate, in a rich array of variegated colors...
At 8:21am on November 11, 2008, Susan Scofield said…
I should have done re-wiring a little at a time. I wasted $4,000 last summer on a guy that did not do the things I requested and did a bunch of things that I did not need. I still have wiring that needs to be completed even though I paid for things I was told I had. Live and learn. Thank you, Phil for the input.
At 8:57pm on November 21, 2008, Susan Scofield said…
The roof on the tower is copper. The seams stand up about 1/2 inch and are crimped together. I am not sure what you call the seam design. The roof is original to the house. As for dating the house I have found that the couple that built it bought the lot in 1896, and the sewer line was connected to the city sewer system in March, 1903. I have discovered a newspaper article in our local library that showed pictures of the forest that was leveled and cleared for my street. The same article stated that the houses were built, the walls plastered, and the plaster left to cure for twelve months with no windows in the houses. When the plaster had "seasoned' the windows and woodwork were installed and the houses were finished. I have uncovered signatures in pencil under the old siding on the sheathing boards.
At 4:57am on December 7, 2008, Morgan Campbell said…
Thank you for the comment Phil. I am very new to this sort of "online community" so am slow. My home reads Vancouver Edwardian/craftsman builder (very humble) and I am searching through my photos to find one to add online. Your home is beautiful! It is unusual in its combination of styles - the gambrel roof, tower, Eastlake elements - this old house passion is exciting!

See you online,
At 3:45pm on December 20, 2008, Jane Powell said…
Thanks, Phil. Glad you liked the article. My favorite built-in in my own house is a bench in the upstairs hall which opens to reveal the laundry chute. And all my built-ins have fake pegged thru-tenons, which amuses me no end.

Since it's been cold here the last few days (in California that means 50 degrees- that's Spring in places with real weather!), I've been in the attic rolling out more insulation. It has to be that cold outside in order to go up there for any length of time, since there's absolutely no ventilation.
At 10:37am on February 2, 2009, Craig Phillips / B & C Emporium said…
Hi Phil, Welcome to the Jewlery of the Antique homes goup,
Craig Phillips
B & C Emporium
At 3:38pm on March 6, 2009, John ( said…
I have video of the house with the tower that I will be putting online probably next week. Stay tuned. I will be launching a new site with it.
At 7:01pm on March 10, 2009, Swede said…
My building is in "downtown" Lindsborg. I've driven through Newton. Good looking town with nice hospital.
At 3:33pm on March 31, 2009, Sarah said…
Phil - your house is gorgeous! I love the exterior color scheme - and kudos for doing the slate roof. We have a slate roof in the building where I work, and it unloads snow like crazy - no ice dams! Thanks for your kind comments about our kitchen.

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