We did a little more work on the kitchen wall tonight. We got the kitchen side down to the last layer, a very solid tongue and groove. I think that will be very hard to pull so it's going to be sawzall to the rescue. That may be the best tool ever invented for demolition (or deconstruction as we're fond of calling it) You can spend 30 minutes digging nails out of a stud or 3 minutes cutting the nails and the stud just falls away. It's very nice. The other side is down to studs in the dining room and still has some plaster and lath in the office closet. Once it's all opened up I'll make the final decision on whether or not we need to put in a beam. At this point I'm leaning towards leaving it open but it sure does seem like a big open space between the old house and kitchen. There is some very strange construction on the office side of this wall. The closet ceiling is lower than all the others, so when I opened up that part from the kitchen side there is almost a foot of space above the closet ceiling that is just open into the crawl space above the kitchen. I'm going to have to build something to hang the new kitchen ceiling from. That will be clearer when you see the pictures. I can't figure out why they would have built it that way.
I took the plunge and decided to take out the 'header' above the stairway door. I bolted them together and it all looks good. I actually think we may be able to get our box spring up the stairs now.
The contractors put in the sliding glass door in the kitchen today. It looks really good, and will be even better when we finish taking out the wall. The only problem is that our back yard is really the side yard and I sort of feel exposed to the whole street. I suspect I'll get used to it and eventually we'll put up a fence anyway. I've got pics of all this but it's too late to upload and transfer them here so I'll put 'em in my next post.