Why Choose Hawn?
- Category: Why Choose Hawn
My experience with Hawn began in 1980. I was 28 years old and had just purchased a house, it was not just any house, it was a shell of a house. Located in Rochester in the Corn Hill neighborhood it was built in the 1870’s and by the 1960’s the house had become divided into 5 small units each with its own utilities, furnace, and water heaters in the dirt floor basement. Serious damage to the building occurred in 1972 when the building suffered a fire that left a void from the rafters through the kitchen area and into the basement. The house was boarded up and left vacant for 8 years. I, sort of confident in my abilities and full of youthful wisdom, said “No problem.”
Knowing that this house would need to be rebuilt from the “inside-out” with all new walls, electric, plumbing, heat, and insulation, one of the first things I did was to seek out some professional help with regards to how to heat such a dwelling. It was originally heated with a coal furnace of the type that was often referred to as the “octopus in the basement”. Subsequent “improvements” installed gas fired forced air heating where ducting was run on the surfaces of the walls. This was unacceptable, for my intent was to restore the house and there was no way to conceal the ducting in the walls without loosing structural integrality.
A friend said to go see the folks at Hawn Heating. I was skeptical, I wanted to do the work myself and had doubts that I would find anyone who would assist me. But from the moment I stepped thru the door and explained what I desired, I felt welcome. I was then introduced to Allen Hawn and he said “What have you got here.” I explained and, after showing him some plans I drew up for the house, he proceeded to start to calculate the heating requirements based on the square footage, window size, “R” value of the insulation etc… He then explained how the best method to route heating thru a building of this type would be hot water baseboard, ¾” copper pipe could be placed in the walls with no structural damage, it gives a nice even heat and could be zoned. He calculated the size of the boiler required, sketched up a schematic diagram of the piping and told me how to install the various components and what to watch out for. Allen spent two hours with me knowing full well that he was not going to make a sale, that day. But as I left the building I knew that I would be back.
After five years of removing plaster and lath, pouring a new basement floor (after digging the basement a foot and a half deeper by hand) and rebuilding two chimneys, I returned to Hawn and purchased a Weil Mclain boiler, baseboard units, zone valves and the other associated parts required to make the house or at least one finished bedroom and a “temporary” kitchen set up in the front parlor habitable. With help from family and friends more rooms were finished, gradually expanding the living space. During this period I returned many times to Hawn acquiring more zone valves and baseboard units. The “temporary” parlor kitchen remained for 20 years until the current kitchen was finished in 2005.
In December of 2011, the house was on the “Corn Hill Holiday House Tour“ giving tourgoers the opportunity to witness a restoration project still in progress, for I have yet to finish one room, which for sure will mean I return again to Hawn for the last bits to finish a home that Allen Hawn, 31 years ago, helped give me the confidence that I could finish.