This was a sort of an anti-hearth weekend. We're getting ready to have the house lifted at the end of the month for a foundation replacement. Two weekends ago I took out the old oil furnace chimney from the 1960's. It was a real bear, tile-lined and built to the hilt. Every brick fought removal. I needed to rest a week to get up the energy for the next phase. One of the decisions we had to make was whether to keep the fireplace or not. It is original, 82 yrs old, with decaying mortar and unlined, though I added a stainess liner when we moved in and later ran the pellet stove pipe up the liner. We finally decided that the old chimney wasn't in good enough shape to pay the extra 4 grand to save it. Removing it also will allow us to reconfigure the living room space. We'll move the Jotul into the living room with a corner hearth later this summer. Stay tuned for further progress reports on that. But this weekend was demolition time. Pellet stove is now out and in the garage until I can clean it up for sale. Things went pretty quickly down to the first floor. The mortar was pretty crumbly and many bricks just took a tap to loosen. Elk, you would have loved (not) to see this. There were 4 separate takeoffs on this chimney (2 per floor) and the pipe with just a cap was still in place for each one! In some cases it was pressed right against wood from newer remodels. Oy! Good thing I only ran it with a liner! First floor teardown was a bear. Tons of debris and some bricks in the back were glued to a beautiful plaster? job. This stuff is like porcelain and is still standing. It forms the staircase wall which was the backside of the chimney. I've never seen plaster like this. Anyone have any ideas about what this stuff is? For today, it appears that this old fireplace has a full masonry hearth. I'm getting ready to do some serious sledge hammering to as soon as I convince my already rubbery muscles that they can do this. I'm getting too old for this kind of work. Now what to do with a big pile-o-bricks?