May 31, 2017 at 09:27AM

About two weeks ago, my wife and I drove past a bunch of foxes walking around the cemetery next to the Pembroke (Mass.) Friends Meetinghouse. I pass it almost every day and have never seen them before. I knew we had gone by a great photo opportunity. The Meetinghouse, which was built in 1706, sits at a busy intersection. But it’s an ideal location if you’re a fox, I suppose. There are thick woods adjacent and a feed store a block away that sells live chickens. My wife, who is also a photographer, and I decided to return with our 300 mm and 400 mm lenses. We had never seen such a large group of foxes together like this. After that first day, we rarely saw them. Then on one evening, we saw the mother fox run through the woods towards the house. By this time, it was close to 7 p.m., and the warm sunlight bathed the foxes in a golden glow. It was that moment that we waited so long for. We both quietly walked the perimeter, hugging a rock wall like hunters, except armed with cameras. We split up, taking different sides. All the foxes were out now. It was a perfect moment. The cubs played and frolicked on the lawn, against the house, and around the headstones. They seemed impervious to us being there. We stayed until the mother took off with one of the cubs into the woods. We looked at each other and felt we had witnessed something extraordinary. From that day, we haven’t seen them since. — By John Tlumacki/Globe Staff photographer

Two fox cubs played around an old headstone at the cemetery at the Pembroke Friends Meetinghouse, where they have a den underneath the house. (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)

from Big Picture

from Blogger May 31, 2017 at 09:27AM

Dive into the Interior Inspiration for The Merc!

I have been dreaming about the Merc for months and months, At this point I know exactly how I want the space to feel and a general idea of how I want it to look, are you ready to see all of my inspiration?

The Merc was built in 1928 so that is where we’re headed. The vibe is going to be very 1920’s with some industrial sprinkled it (cause hello, brick).

Think small tile, parquet floors, heavy wall moulding, molded glass lights, transoms, wall mounted sinks, ceiling medallions, and so much more!

This space has been my favorite for years. I love the obvious history of the building (specifically the floors and moulding) and the cool mix of furniture.

I’ve been really drawn to Parisian spaces as I’ve been planning this out. I think its because they have some serious soul and obvious age. The floors are always my favorite.

This parquet floor is EVERYTHING, also notice the paneling in the window. That is how we’re planning on dealing with the extremely thick openings in the areas where we have to accommodate the brick/concrete block.

 

The thing that is in all of those pics that we’re not using (well, not planning on using, I’ve learned to never say never) are all of the flourishes and medallions. I think they are beautiful, but its a little more formal that what I’m hoping for.

The industrial is going to come in in the form of space dividers (this will happen more once we start phase 2)

 

Looking through historic photos, kitchens from the 20’s and 30’s are FULL of cabinetry. Loads of little cabinets, and drawers that make a huge visual impact. I’m embracing it and we’re going to channel our inner apothecarian (<—not a real word) and make as much storage as we can.

The project that I’m most excited about tackling is the tile, specifically the tile in the entryway right when you walk in the front door. When I had Melanie design the logo for the Merc series, all I really cared about was that it could look amazing done in tile. I have NO CLUE how to actually execute this but man am I excited to try!!

Who wants to come and precision cut hundreds of tiles with me!? Any takers? The plan is to embrace the mosaic tile and put it in all of the hallways/kitchen/bathrooms. I’m thinking white hex or square tile everywhere and then put different patterns in a few of the rooms.

One thing that I’m going back and forth on are the interior doors. They will all have transoms, and I really REALLY want to have frosted glass panels on all of them, but do you think that would be too much light coming into the rooms at night when the lights in the hallways are on? I need real life experience. I love how they look, but I know that there is potential for hating them. Thoughts?

I am completely in love with this door and all of the heavy trim work on it. This style is the plan for all of the front doors.

Ok what do you think?!! Am I headed in the right direction? Tell me everything.

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May 26, 2017 at 07:13PM

John F. Kennedy was born on May 29th, 1917 in Brookline, Mass. The youngest president elected in the United States was assassinated just two years into his presidency, but still left a lasting legacy. Here is a look back at moments of JFK’s life in his home state.

Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. with sons John F. Kennedy and Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., 1920. (John F. Kennedy Library)

from Big Picture

from Blogger May 26, 2017 at 07:13PM

What a Phase 2 Environmental Looks Like + Our Test Results

If you read my last post you know we had some extremely serious testing done last week at The Merc. A Phase 2 Environmental Test. Testing that we absolutely should have had done before we bought the building, I didn’t realize the serious implications that not having the testing done could have until it was already too late. My main environmental concern before we bought the building was the underground gas storage tank. After talking to someone at the city and having them tell me that the tank wasn’t there I naively thought that that was enough. I was wrong, and if you ever find yourself in this situation, DO THE TESTING.

A lot of you asked why none of the previous owners had to do the testing and why no one was aware of the potential issues.

The short answer is that its a fairly new requirement that banks have. Talking to the scientist that came and did the testing really opened my eyes to the implications for the bank if there are issues found. The property owner can walk away and the bank can’t. He told me that there are loads of properties that are bank owned that are unusable because of the environmental issues and the banks are stuck with them. In order to prevent this from happening banks are beginning to require environmental testing. Once test are preformed and the property is given a No Further Action letter or the remediation is outlined and agreed upon then they’ll loan on the property.

That being said, the previous owner (that we bought The Merc from) did owner financing so it wasn’t a requirement, and the owners before that bought it long enough ago that most likely it wasn’t on the radar as being an issue.

Many of you also wondered if the previous owner knew about potential issues and bailed because of that. Honestly, I don’t know if that is the case or not. I do know that by law you have to disclose information like that and there was nothing in the disclosure. I don’t think that they knew about it.  There is a chance where he was possibly in the same situation that we were. You know there is a potential issue that you can choose to confront (by doing the testing) or you can turn a blind eye and hope for the best. From what I was told the sale of the building was motivated by revoked permits and the use of the building, not the owner changing his mind without an apparent reason. Regardless, we were the irresponsible party in this situation by not having the testing done before we bought the property.

There were 3 Recognized Environmental Concerns (REC’s) that came up in the Phase 1 results that needed further investigation.

1. The existence of an underground storage tank
2. Soil contamination around said tank.
3. Toxic vapors on the interior of the building because of solvents used for the approx. 10 years that it was used as a repair garage.

The cost of a Phase 2 test can range from $3,000-$15,000 depending on loads of different factors. Our test was $4350 and had a 3 week timeline.

The tests they preformed were relatively simple. To check for the tank they used a hand auger to drill down approximately 8 feet. They did this in 2 different places based on the historical photos of The Merc. This test kills two birds with one stone. If they hit the tank, obviously its there, if they don’t, then its not. They also take a core soil sample to see what is underground. There are immediate visual and olfactory clues of contamination but they also send the samples into the lab for more extensive testing.

The interior test that they did is called a Sub Slab Vapor Intrusion test. Basically they are testing to see if toxins are in the air and if they are, if it is coming from underneath the concrete slab.

They collect 3 different bags of air for this test. An exterior sample as a baseline, an interior sample, and a sub slab sample.

The test runs over the course of 4-6 hours. The exterior and interior samples are collected with this little machine that quietly hums along and fills the bag with air.

The process for the sub slab is a little more involved.

A 3/4″ hole is drilled through the concrete pad into the soil below. (This is Daryl the scientist, he patiently answered my incessant questions.)

Once the hole is drilled, its cleaned out with suction and a brush to remove excessive dust.

When everything is properly prepped this probe is inserted. The rubber sleeve around the middle makes sure that everything is sealed off. The 3 little holes at the end on the right side are where the air underneath the concrete slab is sucked through. The length of the probe depends on how thick the concrete slab is.


 

From there, Daryl hooked it up to an airtight vacuum box. The pvc pipe around the probe is then to fill with water, that way if for any reason the probe isn’t completely sealed, the water will seal it so that no exterior air can get in. Brilliant right? Once everything is hooked up he let it sit for a while so that whatever vapors were expelled when the hole was made have time to build back up.


These are the most expensive bags of air I’ve ever seen.

After the test is finished, the hole is patched, everything is sent off to be analyzed, and the waiting begins.

We got our results back yesterday and I am THRILLED! There was no evidence of an underground storage tank and the soil sample came back clear. They could see that the tank was removed because the dirt used to backfill it was different and they believe that it was done around the time the garage was turned into the post office (1956).

The vapor intrusion testing came back great too (miracles!!) There were trace amounts of the toxins, but well below what is considered harmful. In fact out of the 3 samples, the exterior one came back the worst. They believe that because of the sandy top soil and amount of time since exposure that everything that would have been there has long since been washed away.

I AM SO GRATEFUL. This could have turned out bad in so many ways, but instead I get to add it to the growing list of Merc miracles. The best part is now we get to close on our loan and get this freaking thing going!!!

Have a fabulous Memorial Day weekend and I’ll see you on Tuesday!

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