The Old House demolition project officially began on September 10. While not directly related to our farming endeavors, the whole back story of this property and the Johnson family is a great bit of North Idaho Panhandle area history.
The land The Farm sits on was part of the Humbird Lumber Company in the early 1900s. (There’s some fantastic old photos of logging & stump farming in North Idaho archived in this gallery by Yale University.) Part of the old farmhouse was originally the cook house for the lumber crew and I believe the original cast iron stove is still around The Farm somewhere. The Hicks family lived on the property first, circa 1940s, and had the house built onto and around the old kitchen. Roy and Helen Johnson purchased these 80 acres in 1957, initially doing some logging to help pay off the balance of the mortgage.
The Old House was occupied by different stages of the Johnsons up until the early 2000s when the new house was built further up in the property. It’s remained unused since then, going on fifteen years now and the time has come for it to pass on. Since we’re big fans of reclaiming and reusing stuff, Farmboy and I decided to take the whole shebang down by hand, board by board, to salvage what we can for other uses.
I had imaginative visions of finding some old long lost treasures under a floorboard or stashed between walls, but so far our demolition has revealed only some kids’ graffiti under several layers of wallpaper & paneling, newspapers from 1974, and lots of old tin can lids used to patch holes in the boards. We did find an autographed wall signed Albert William Hicks, one of the sons of the first family who lived here, as well as an old page of a Sears Christmas Book from 1946 used as wallpaper.
We spent a solid week tackling the taking down of the exterior siding and gutting the interior, but there’s still wall & floor boards to take down along with the metal roof. Once everything of use is removed and the power disconnected, what remains will simply be burned and buried in what was the old root cellar.