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Demolition inside the farmhouse started this week. It has been a bittersweet feeling.

On Tuesday, we started the gut renovation. Aside from some cosmetic updates the main focuses will be gutting the electrical (a dangerous rat’s nest of old knob and tube wiring), replacing the heating system (an insane patchwork of ducts that shoot dirty heat from a 40-year-old oil furnace) and updating the plumbing (nothing really too nuts going on here, the pipes and pumps are just old and in need of repairs/replacement). We’re also adding insulation to the house because, currently, there isn’t any. I am of the opinion that houses in northern Vermont usually need insulation.

And while we are excited about the changes to house, I have to admit that a small part of me (really tiny part) feels already nostalgic for the way things have been. Over the past nine months, I’ve enjoyed getting to know the quirks and weirdness of the house. I’ve also enjoyed the simple austerity that comes with living in a house whose inventory of furniture consists of a bed, a small table and four wooden chairs. It will be nice to have appliances, furniture and stuff, but I very much enjoyed waking up in the morning and cooking breakfast on a charcoal grill.

While the demolition is underway, one key artifact we are saving is some graffiti. In one of the bedrooms upstairs, scrawled in pencil is the following tag:

The writing is the handiwork of Marion Shaw. Marion, born in 1908, was part of the last generation of Shaw’s to own the farm. I’ve spent several hours researching her and I have been able to find very little. (If any folks in Peacham any information or tidbits about the Shaws, let me know. I love that historical stuff.)

The most interesting tidbit I have been able to dig up is that she used to run a retreat for pregnant women in a house across the street from the Shaw farm. This was relayed to me by one of the older folks in town who knew her. She never married or had children. She died in 1987.

When I look at her writing on the wall, I marvel that it’s one of the last marks that she left on the world. That makes me want to preserve it at all costs. As part of the demolition process, we’re going to cut the chunk of plaster with Marion’s graffiti out so that it can be preserved.

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