My old farmhouse has 6 fireplaces, none of which were in working, useable condition. The fireplaces had been used to burn coal, and all but one had been boarded up. I wanted to clean up/fix up all of the fireplaces, and rebuild one so that we could actually use it to burn wood and have a fire. I decided that the family room fireplace was the most useful, and over the past 2 weeks it has been rebuilt, and refaced with stacked rock. Here is the progress...This is the family room last summer after I first bought the house. We had removed the dropped 8 foot ceiling, and brought the room back to it's original 11 foot ceiling. You can see that the original ceiling was a mess! Layers of wallpaper, and plaster walls were hiding the chimney.
Later in the summer, we removed the walls, ceiling, and the floor. We got under the house, jacked it up, and replaced the supporting floor joists-making everything safe and straight and level once again. You can see the full fireplace at this point. (don't worry, I saved the mantle!)
We repaired everything structurally, and then ran electrical, then insulated, then hung sheetrock. New plywood subflooring was installed. New windows were also ordered and have been installed.
To rebuild the fireplace I hired two brothers who were experienced masons. They were also very kind.
We bought 3 1/2 tons of Tennessee stacked rock...
and this is what they did...first they cemented over all of the old bricks and installed firebricks in the actual fireplace. They installed a damper, and then they marked the dimensions of the fireplace with strings (leveled) up to the ceiling.
As they began laying the stone, they asked me to go outside and walk around the farm and find a special rock that could be placed in the fireplace. They said "we want you to have a rock from your land, in your fireplace. Someday you will stand here with your grandchildren and tell them the story of this rock". That made me cry. I found a beautiful piece of pink rose quartz out by the lake. They showed me how to trowel the mortar, and let me place the stone in the fireplace. Like I said, they were very kind.
We took 2 original beams from the house and installed then on each side of the chimney, and they applied the stone around them to secure them. These 2 beams will be used to support the mantle, which will be a huge old beam from one of the barns.
They used cement blocks to build up the original brick chimney and make it larger for the stone.
This is the fireplace today...the stone work is complete, and the hearth has been built.
They will be back next week to clean all the mortar off of the bricks, and spiff it up a bit. The mortar at the top of the chimney is still wet, and so it looks dark grey. When it dries, it will be pale, like it is at the bottom. My carpenters will be cutting a beam to size and installing it to make the mantle. I am happy with the way this has turned out...a bit rustic...but I think that's what is appropriate for an old country home. They have also refinished the other 5 fireplaces...but that's another post :)
edit: fireplace after it was acid washed to remove all of the mortar from the stones...