While we waited for that nagging legal problem to be resolved, and for the building permits to be issued, we did cleanup. The carriage house had a derelict attached barn where raccoons lived; I had to tear it down to get the house insured. When I asked local contractor Bob Fichter what we should do about the houses themselves, he said, "Bulldoze 'em." Instead, he and I, with help from my wife and my brothers, spent a year on demolition alone.
Some discoveries were treasures, others not so much. After tearing off battered aluminum siding from both houses and then stubborn asphalt shingle siding that was supposed to look like brick, we uncovered the original, pristinely preserved clapboards, ready to be scraped, sanded, and painted. We broke through interior walls in the main house and found crumbling columns of brick and mortar; the carriage house walls were packed with black-walnut shells, acorns, and mummified squirrels.