The house, as it's currently laid out, makes horrible use of its space. One of the contributors to its poor layout is the front/main room, which takes up 1/3 of the entire square footage of the house. When factoring in hallways and closets and other dead areas, it eats up something more like 1/2 the house's living space.
It's an interesting room, and undoubtedly deviates from what the original layout was. It has 11' ceilings, 2 fireplaces with marble fireplace surrounds (though only 1 original - or very, very old - fireplace cover), and 4 massive, original windows that are about 7' tall.
The space is cavernous and for better or worse, I think I'm going to leave its walls right where they are. I'll use the space as a living/dining room combo.
But like I said previously, there's no way the original structure had a big open room like this. Way back when, houses were discussed in terms of rooms - the more, the better - unlike today, when square footage is a more commonly used measuring stick of a home's size or desirability. Per an 1892 newspaper ad listing this home for sale, at one time the place had 8 rooms, which means this space was probably 2 or 3 separate rooms, maybe even 4.
Remind me to tell you about the years when the home was used as a temple of some sort (true story); I have a feeling its temple days are what led to the creation of this big, open room.
Anyhow, the ceiling in the room is not original. Neither is the crown for that matter. I think the ceiling is either several layers of plaster top coating the original plaster ceiling, or plaster on top of drywall on top of the original plaster ceiling. A roof leak some years ago left two giant water marks on the ceiling, and caused some of the sand-finish top coats to delaminate; they weren't doing sand-finish anything back in the 1870s and 1880s, so I know that's not original. And from being up close to repair some of the damage, I've seen a lot of places where the ceiling dips and sags, which leads me to believe that the original plaster ceiling started falling apart for one reason or another, and somebody came along and put **something** on top of it. Some day, I'll figure out that riddle.
The more pressing issue is the floor. It's not original, although I believe it's covering the original wood floor, which is pine. Regardless, the floor that's there now needs to go because it's ugly, and because it stinks. The previous owners had somewhere between 6 and 10 dogs (per multiple neighbors), and it's painfully clear that aside from trying to eat the house, the dogs used the floors as a restroom. The previous owners, apparently, didn't mind. I do.
Unfortunately, as much as I'd love to tear up the current floor to both replace it and hopefully discover some clues about the space's original layout (original floors almost always indicate where long-gone walls had been), it's on the back burner. I just need to de-funk it for now.
Unfortunately, sweeping the floor didn't change anything. Neither did vacuuming.
I thought about mopping the floor, but the google machine said I should try some baking soda first, so I went to the grocery store and bought almost every box of baking soda they had on the shelf. Then I dumped all the boxes on the floor, swept the baking soda all around and tried to work it into the floor as best I could, and let it sit for a couple days.
That actually seemed to help get rid of the odor, considerably. I vacuumed all of it up after a couple days of absorbing the urine funk, and then I mopped the floor with a Pine-Sol concoction that was pretty much a 50/50 mix with hot water. That made things 80% better, but the remaining 20% was still pretty nasty.
Since I wanted to paint the ceiling - just a quick Kilz job - anyhow to cover up the water marks, I figured maybe painting the walls would help with the smell. If the previous owners had 6 to 10 dogs, surely some of them were males, and when male dogs pee - if they're anything like my dog Roscoe - they tend to find objects to pee on. Vertical objects. Like walls, if one were so inclined to allow their male dog(s) to pee inside a house. Maybe the walls had some dog pee funk as well?
The painting definitely helped with the remaining stench. I don't know if it's gone, or if I just got used to it, or if it's being masked by the air fresheners and joint compound/plaster work I have going on in a nearby room, but it doesn't hit me like a punch in the face the minute I walk in the front door anymore, so at the very least, it's a step in the right direction.
5 gallons of Kilz disappeared pretty quickly between the kitchen and this big room; tomorrow I'll go pick up another 5 gallons and hopefully run through enough of it to help the occupancy inspection next week go my way...