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Monday, March 3, 2014

Arsenic and old houses

My bout of cabin fever was so nearly terminal I made a lunch date with Linda today, just to complain. Driving an hour to complain about the weather can have restorative effects.

In addition to being a wild and crazy artist, Linda is fixated on eagles. She has two eagle cam sites going at all times, and  can tell you a thing or two about eagles. The female of the species is America's bald eagle; it is the more fierce appearing. 

After lunch she took me to see her town's bald eagle nest. Pictures another day. Because further on down the road, this house:

It was not yet ten degrees, at two in the afternoon, so I did not linger to take pictures of the ornate swags, the window and door treatments. The house puzzled Linda; she thought it may have been moved there. It is for sale, so she copied down the realty information, and here is everything you could want to know about the house from the realty site:

Firestone family home to be relocated

  • Published: Sat, August 13, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.
Crews are preparing to move an Italianate-style home owned by the Firestone family, known for its tire empire, just east on Lipply Road in view of Pine Lake. The house is currently next to the Firestone tire-testing facility.
Tom Ellison of New Springfield said he purchased the Firestone house partly as a way to create work for his company, Tom Ellison Excavating.
By Ashley Luthern

A piece of local history will have a new location — albeit only 900 feet from where it has stood since 1880.
Crews are preparing to move an Italianate-style home owned by the Firestone family, known for its tire empire, just east on Lipply Road in view of Pine Lake. Tom Ellison of New Springfield purchased the home, and his company, Tom Ellison Excavating, and Stein House Movers of Cortland are transporting the house.
“Too often we munch and crunch these old buildings,” Ellison said.
Ellison purchased five acres on Lipply Road through David A. LoGiudice, a real-estate broker and appraiser with Boardman-based David Realty, and first expressed interest in the house in October.
Ben Strawinski, supervisor of the 400-acre Firestone tire-testing facility that is next to the house, called the situation a “win-win.”
“We would have recycled parts of the house, but that was a last resort,” he said.
The Firestone company has maintained the house since the last occupant, Beatrice Webber, a Fire-stone family friend, left about six years ago, Strawinski said.
The space where the house is will be turned into a parking lot for visitors to the testing center.
Strawinski said the home was used by Harvey S. Firestone’s sister.
Visitors to the testing site still can look across the street and view the area where Firestone went camping with Henry Ford and Thomas Edison and the remains of a horse track where Firestone first tested his rubber tires.
The Firestone Homestead where Harvey S. Firestone was born and grew up was moved to Greenfield Village at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., in 1983. The homestead, which included a barn, was built in 1828.
Ellison said he owns several older homes and rental properties and acquired this home partly as a way to create work for his company.
LoGiudice said by moving the house down the road — and avoiding crossing state Route 7 — the task of temporarily disrupting electric service was made easier. Ellison added the house likely will travel “at a creep” down Lipply Road in about two weeks.
Once there, Ellison will renovate the house and make a circular driveway. But the house isn’t for him — “I already have a home on the other side of the lake” — and Ellison said he will sell it.
“This house will be a thing of beauty,” he said.
Harvey Firestone introduced vulcanizing of rubber; he, Henry Ford and Charles Goodyear gave us cars with tires.

What of the arsenic, you ask. Emily promised to explain why we should not be overly concerned about arsenic in our food. Without further ado,

Blog about Arsenic for Grandma

There have been levels of arsenic noted in different types of food since the 1980’s. The arsenic comes naturally from the earth’s crust; therefore, it is naturally in the ground water via natural weathering processes. There is also man-made arsenic in the ground water from pesticides, wood preservatives, chicken fertilizer, and other industrial uses. There are said to be higher levels of arsenic in rice because of the way it is grown. 

Rice is grown underwater in a rice paddy. As the grains grow and soak up water, the hull sometimes splits, making the difference between white and brown rice. Brown rice, rice in which the hull has split, is said to have more arsenic in it because the arsenic causes more of the grain’s hulls to split. The FDA has done extensive research and found the levels of arsenic in both white and brown rice is not harmful to consume. The FDA found the levels of arsenic ranged from 2.6 to 7.2 micrograms per serving, white rice being on the lower end and brown being on the higher.

In the experiment I did, we used ppb, or parts per billion. In the research my partner and I did, we found it would take at least 10 ppb to even start to have side effects from the levels of arsenic. Our experiment concluded the highest level of arsenic was 7 ppb. So there is no reason to fear your rice, it’s safe to eat.


  1. If I had lots of money and lived in your country I would buy it.
    As for rice I was never fond of brown rice now I know why.

  2. Rice is a staple for us. I never knew that there were chances of the presence of arsenic. Scary !

  3. This house is a gem! It looks like it is in good original condition. Your new camera sure captured a magnificent photo of the place. Hope you photograph it when the contractors finish restoring it. I have visited the old Firestone homestead at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. It is not only lovely but it was being used as a working homestead when I was there. -- barbara

  4. I love the house. I wish I could walk around inside and dream about its past.


  5. what a beautiful house. so glad it isn't being demolished. I bet it was a sight to see the move it.

  6. That house is beautiful! I'd love to see inside.... As for the rice, tell Emily I didn't quit eating it... we figure something's going to do us in eventually and we may enjoy what we have ;-)

  7. It is a very attractive and interesting house. The little windows just below the roof are unusual. The make the house look even more imposing.

    1. I would guess those windows to be in servant's rooms, under sloping eaves in the attic. I see a young girl lying on an iron bed, pushed against the window, looking across the fields to her childhood home, wishing herself back, not doing Miss Firestone's laundry or scrubbing her floors.

  8. Love that house - and that it is not going to be demolished.
    And thank you Emily, I will continue to eat rice. and feed it to others, with a clear conscience.

  9. Is your research published? I'd be interested in the methodology and the study summary. You're certainly true about ansenic existing naturally, that's little understood.

  10. That is a cool looking house!! A lot of history with it too! I enjoyed reading the report about the arsenic; good to know our rice is safe to eat, considering I had some for dinner tonight!


  11. Wonderful house - wonderful story.

  12. There is a lovely green wall-paper and paint which used to rely on arsenic as well. I wonder if the house was decorated with it?

  13. Old houses can contain many substances that are not healthy also, including its paint. Although it is a beautiful, it will probably take a fortune to make it livable. It is good that someone wants to restore it, as it is a home that should be saved.

  14. "This house will be a thing of beauty"..that was wonderful to read!
    Jane x

  15. I'm glad that the house was saved.

    As to arsenic: when i was a girl my doctor gave me an arsenic tonic and looking at my mother's astonished face said
    Everything is bad if you take too much...

  16. The house is wonderful, no doubt it could tell many tales.

    Brown rice is still on the menu - thanks for the information, Emily.

  17. Somehow old houses have a character that new ones just don't have. When I was a child I dreamed of living in a big old house (we lived in three rooms connected to a garage, my father's livelihood). Our home now is large, but new - still doesn't have the character and the glorious smell of the old ones. It's probably warmer, though :)

  18. i adore old houses--frank and i have always thought we would buy a old house and many years we searched for one--this one is lovely----one of my sisters lives in her husband's childhood home which had already been in his family for a couple of generations---it's really neat----i am glad the rice is okay :)

  19. Dear Joanne, a lovely Italianate home. I once took three courses about architecture from ancient to modern times and I can remember our studying this particular type of home. I wonder how long it will take before the buyer finds a seller. Yesterday I read a blog about restoring windmills in Bodrum, Turkey. It's so important that we conserve the art of the past. Peace.

  20. How strange to have an old house suddenly appear! it looks odd somehow, I don't know why. Perhaps because it is somewhere it hasn't "grown" into . I don't think anyone moves houses in England, I'm suspecting these ones don't have very deep foundations or something?

    1. I suspect a whole new basement foundation was dug and poured.

  21. Love that house. Dearborn is not far and the wonders of those guys are on display.

  22. Great looking house! And I didn't know that about rice. And we do eat brown rice... as well as whole wheat pasta, etc. *Supposedly* it's better for you than refined white... and as luck would have it, we like it fine.

  23. Absolutely love the photo of the Firestone house. Thank you so much for telling us its story. Hope you can keep us updated on its future transformation.

  24. This house just burned to the ground this morning.....

  25. This house was never a Firestone famly home! It was built by Jonathan Lower, a Firestone neighbor in the 1800s. J. Lower married the sister of Harvey Firestone's mother and the Firestone company did lease the land from the Lower family for its testing center, but it was not ever a Firestone home; it was a Lower family home for generations. In my days, it was the home of the Weber family, Ike Weber being the manager of the test center.