Scaffolding and workers have been all around the Herrick and Hangman’s Tree building, 301 and 305 Main Street, for months, but the owners, Tim and Sue Taylor, are taking their time and paying as they go. The restoration of the historic buildings is the goal of the couple that purchased them in April of 2012.
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The first focus has been to restore the structural integrity of the buildings. “We have been doing a lot of work, but it doesn’t really show,” said Sue Taylor. “We did the footings on the Herrick building and now we’re working on the Hangman’s Tree building. We pulled off the plaster and have been cleaning. We’re doing the footings on the front and back of the building now.”
Another project that is underway is excavating the crawl space under the Hangman’s Tree building and that has turned out to be unexpectedly interesting.
“We’re going very slowly because the mud underneath is full of old bottles,” said Taylor. “We want to go about 3 feet down to where we can see wooden planks, maybe from when it was a hay barn, but with all the bottles we’re finding, we’re being very painstaking.”
A bottle collector looked at some of the bottles the Taylors have found. “He told us that there were two major floods in Placerville. In the layer of mud you can see where the rainwater washed over it and about a foot above it, there is another waterline. There are a lot of bottles embedded in the mud with such a variety of styles,” said Taylor.
The antique bottles are stored off-site for safe-keeping, but Taylor said they found a Coke bottle with “Placerville” stamped on it.
The Taylors are also having metal shutters and a metal door constructed for the building and are planning to reuse the exterior siding from the Hangman’s building. “It’s in great shape. The brick we restored on the Herrick building turned out really nice. They (brick masons) did a great job,” she said.
The shared roof of the buildings was also restored, another accomplishment of last year. “It’s in great shape now, but it was a lot more work than we planned,” Taylor said. Once the footings of the Hangman’s Tree are done, Taylor said they will frame around them. “How long this all takes depends on how long it will take to dig the crawl space out. We aren’t putting any timelines to this.”
“It’s not really exciting yet,” said Taylor, “but once we start on the store fronts, that will be fun.”
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or [email protected] Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.