The fire started on the lower roof. Everything on the third floor, including the roof and the chimneys had to come down. As the chimneys were dismantled, there was concern the weight of the clay flue pipes might collapse the fireboxes below, so they were removed. Confused? Click here for the anatomy of a fireplace.
The old clay flue pipe from 1899 had disintegrated in many flue walls so previous owners lined them with stainless steel flue pipe. Our intentions were to restore the fireboxes, but at some point those stainless steel flue pipe liners had collapsed, restricting air flow and causing the fireplaces to draw poorly.
So the fireboxes, flue pipe and chimneys on all three levels of the Orland P. Bassett House came tumbling down.
Actually, they were removed carefully by hand, brick by brick.
We saved the old common brick, used on many Chicago buildings built at the turn of the century, to be reused on the chimneys visible above the roof line to add authenticity to them.
We also saved the cast iron firebox liners to reuse where possible or to replicate.
The marble and tile surrounds were a mix of cool old stuff and proof that even way back when, people sometimes fell victim to trends…
Dave noticed an uncelabrated pile of dusty tiles next to the firebox in the study. The tiles had been covered by a marble slab and a wood surround ( see first image). They seemed informal for this grand home and at first the homeowners rejected them, but they reminded us of the tile surrounding two fireplaces in our home built in 1896 by famous Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw.