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LynnM 06-08-2011 08:26 AM

plastered over fireplaces
Hi, I am new here and new to renovation!

I just bought a house built in 1925. Most rooms have what I thought were fireplaces that had been plastered over. There are no chimneys in the roof. The mantels are still there, the openings have been plastered over and there is wallpaper over that (all the rooms were wallpapered). The wallpaper on one fireplace area is bulging out. I removed it and found crumbling plaster and a round ceramic opening. So now I am thinking that these were openings for wood stoves. I had planned to restore the fireplaces over time but don't want wood stoves. What should I do now? Each 'fireplace' area is a rectangle that intrudes into the room so they are quite noticeable even I removed the mantels (which I don't want to do).

oldognewtrick 06-08-2011 02:26 PM

Welcome to House Repait Talk, Lynn. Post a pic of the wall so we can get a better idea of what you are working with.

bobtheblindguy 06-08-2011 03:10 PM

Not sure how you would go about your project but we had a similar situation. We had to do some repairs on a walled over fireplace. When we opened it up we found a time capsule from the 1915. It was very interesting.

TxBuilder 06-08-2011 03:56 PM


Originally Posted by bobtheblindguy (Post 57747)
Not sure how you would go about your project but we had a similar situation. We had to do some repairs on a walled over fireplace. When we opened it up we found a time capsule from the 1915. It was very interesting.

If you don't mind me asking, what was in the capsule? You could PM me as to not hijack the thread. What a cool find.

LynnM 06-08-2011 04:49 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Thanks for your interest! I'm attaching pictures of one of the bedrooms. You can't see it in the picture but the plaster under the mantel is bulging out. There are similar 'fireplaces' in two other bedrooms, the living room, and the dining room and all but one is bulging out although not as badly as the one I mentioned (which is in the living room).

I'm also attaching a picture of the house. I love the house and am looking forward to working on it.

oldognewtrick 06-09-2011 01:59 AM

Lynn, its hard to tell what you will find if you start removing the plaster from that area. As a roofing contractor, we often remove chimneys that have fallen into disrepair or have been abandoned. We simply remove the brick below the roof line and cover the hole with new roof decking and roof shingles.

My suggestion would be to repair the area and leave well enough alone. You may open up a can of ...well, lets say worms.

LynnM 10-25-2011 12:37 PM

Well, we have decided to forge ahead. We have started demo-ing in one upstairs bedroom and found a brick smokestack used for wood burning stoves. We are tearing the brick smokestack out in four of the rooms, one by one, and repairing the ceiling and flooring. In the downstairs living room and guest room, we are going to put in propane gas fireplaces. In the upstairs bedrooms we really need the wall space.

As so often happens when are renovating one thing, other things need to be done at the same time so we will be fixing the floor joists in the living room and putting in new flooring in all four rooms. It's going to be a lot of work but the results will be worth it!

mabloodhound 04-10-2012 01:16 PM

Those were probably coal stoves in the bedrooms. Coal was very popular in 1925 and saved lugging heavy chunks of wood upstairs and then taking out a lot of ash. You're probably smart to just go ahead and take the old chimneys down.

LynnM 10-26-2012 08:23 PM

Asked some older residents and you were right about the coal stoves! Have seen some other homes in the area from the same period and they all have the plastered over fireplaces. We've renovated another bedroom and taken out another chimney. We put new cherry floors on top of the old painted pine floors which weren't in good enough condition to save. I'll post before and after pictures when we get the painting done. That's another thing, it turns out that the old plaster walls and ceilings were never given a finishing coat and never painted, just wallpapered over. We removed layer after layer of wallpaper in the two bedrooms. We tried painting with latex primer and paint but it just peeled off the walls. We started over with an oil based primer and then we were able to successfully paint with latex paint.

Considering the likelihood of lead paint on the baseboard and door frames, we were just going to replace them but it turns out that we can't remove them and save the plaster. The trim was actually put on first in these houses, then the plaster.

LynnM 06-06-2013 09:16 PM

All of the bedrooms and the family and living rooms have been renovated. No more fake fireplaces! Here's the room pictured above. The fireplace was removed, giving us more wallspace and we had a contractor fill in with drywall. He also put a new cherry floor on top of the old painted pine floor. We removed the wallpaper, repaired the plaster and painted the ceiling and walls. I forgot to remove the painter's tape on the ceiling fan and the second red pillow is still on order and the red and green carpet isn't down yet but you get the idea.

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