House Tour: Peter and Diana Fallot 2007.11.28

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

When Peter Fallot bought a rundown house in Canandaigua in the early 1980s, just west of M-156, it wasn’t even livable.

There was no plumbing at all. The “Michigan basement” was too shallow for a person to stand.

The wiring consisted of a two-fuse electrical box with one line feeding the kitchen range and the other leading to a pair of light bulbs hanging from the rafters.house.fallot.jpg

In the end, his $5,500 investment paid off, but it wasn’t an easy process. 

“I gave up on it a couple of times,” Pete said. “It took forever. Nothing is square. Every piece of drywall is a trapezoid. It’s so much easier to do a new house.”

He started off by digging out the basement, pouring a concrete floor and stabilizing the foundation of the structure. He made some headway, but the kitchen stands as a testament to the off-balance nature of the place. The space above the cabinets at one end of the room is at least four inches lower than the other.

The old house has gone through a lot in the past 170 years. Many of the other houses in the once-bustling community are gone, along with the blacksmith shop that stood at the corner. Pete still finds bent horseshoe nails in that  area.

Pete worked on the house for a year and a half to make it livable and started spending nights there in 1986.

A new occupant entered in December 1987 when he married Diana. It’s a home she finds very comfortable.

“I like all the windows,” she says. “I like the light.”

Windows? That only reminds Pete of the past. The original windows were rather small and it took a lot of work to get the new ones in place.

“Everything is put together with mortise and tenon or it’s pegged,” he said, looking up at the timber-frame rafters that he chose to leave exposed.

“This thing is built like a ship,” he said.

“And sometimes is sounds like one at night,” Diana added, thinking of the creaking heard on a windy night.

The main floor includes a living room, dining room, kitchen and bathroom with a shower. Off the large hallway in the upstairs are two bedrooms, a bathroom with a clawfoot tub and a storage room.

This remained the layout of the house until about seven years ago when Pete added a spacious family room that nearly doubled the downstairs living area.

There’s a collection of furniture from parents and grandparents, including a special rocking chair.

“That’s my great-grandmother’s rocking chair that I was rocked in when I was a baby,” Diana said.

“We like old stuff,” Pete says.

But it’s not all old. He created many furnishings himself. With his tree-trimming business, Pete brings home a variety of wood that makes its way into his shop.

His first mortise and tenon project was the walnut bunk beds used by the Fallots’ two boys, Josiah and Samuel.

There’s cherry furniture, hickory cabinets, oak flooring, black oak wainscoting, a cedar kitchen closet, walnut end tables, a cherry porch and more.

The ceiling of the addition is covered with white pine from some large trees Pete was hired to cut.

The addition went along with rebuilding the kitchen which led to changes in the dining room and finally new carpet in the living room. It was a domino effect, Diana said.

Along with the physical changes over the years, there have been a succession of people living in the house.

“We had a visitor here once, an older lady who lived here in the 1920s,” Pete said. “She was very happy to see that it wasn’t all run down.”

The Fallots would love to see a photograph of the house from a hundred years ago and learn what the neighborhood was like.

“I do wonder about the lives of the people who lived here,” Diana said. “With a house this old, there must have been people who died here and others who were born here.”

She was told by a school bus driver how warm and cozy the house looks on a winter morning, and Diana agrees. Some houses that you visit feel cold, she said, but not this one.

“I go on house tours and I think I like something in another house,” she said, “but I’m always glad to come back home.”

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