Grizabella (Restoring an Old Grass Valley Home)

said on January 11th, 2011 filed under: Success Stories

Grizabella.  That’s what we call the old girl.  She’s 128 years old.  Built in 1888.  Until recently, down on her luck, like that feline in Cats who sings “Memory.” 


We bought her about 3 weeks ago, precisely at the point I fell off the edge of the Facebook world.  Since then, I have been leaving home early and getting back after dark. (CJ yells in from the kitchen, “And getting a back rub every evening!”  Yes, indeed, thanks, Honey.)


Here are a few photos of the project:


The house is in Grass Valley on itty bitty Murphy Street.  It needs lots of work. 





From the side it looks huge, but it’s actually single story.





Compared to the other homes in the neighborhood, it has a large back yard.  At some point, the owner slapped on a rear addition.  Lots of pest work and wood rot there.





One of the major changes is the conversion of the back porch/laundry into a clean, new bathroom.





This living room is the best part of the house.  It’s craftman style and we will leave it intact except for new floors and fresh paint.





We will restore the kitchen to its original location.





The kitchen will get two new sash windows.  Lots of light.  White cabinets and tile, honey-yellow walls, and some yet-to-be-determine accent color.  Old fashioned linoleum floors.  No stainless steel!  No granite counters!  Those two items have become such cliches.





The former kitchen has been divided into two smaller spaces, a walk-in pantry off the kitchen, and a laundry with a big window.





The old bath has been gutted in preparation of a complete make-over.





Out back, there are two structures we call the little barn and the big barn.





The little barn was ready to fall into First Street.





One of the funniest moments took place during the demolition of little barn.  The laborer, Ken the Man, dug into the county’s largest rat nest.  Folks, these rats were big as cats and just erupted out of that nest, running every whichaway.  I heard Ken scream at the top of his voice.  I thought he was injured.  I dropped my tool belt and ran to the back yard.  When I found out what happened, I plopped down on the ground laughing like a hyena.  Ken did not find it nearly as amusing.





Here’s that @%%#$&$(*$@ little barn half way into the dumpster.





And here’s Ken the Man Who Screams at Rats hisself.





John the framing carpenter is adding closets to the bedrooms.  You know, Victorian era homes provided few, if any, closets.  People used wardrobes, armoires, or hooks.  Most folks only had 4 or 5 changes of clothes.





Dave the plumber is measuring for rough plumbing in the old bathroom.


That concludes Grizabella, part 1.

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To find out more about real estate in the Golden Hills of the Sierras, just call Bob at (530-906-1023) or CJ at (530-9064715) or email us at or

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