Re: Low Ceilings in Old House
Not a construction expert and live on the other coast, but wanted to share how difficult it can be to know how a house is put together without being in the attic.
I have a house of almost identical dates, but the ceiling is low throughout the house (not quite so low, though; maybe 6' 9") We thought there wasn't attic access when we bought it, and had a contractor out to inspect. Underneath, everything looked good, and not too far off code; the contractor informed us that code only applies for renovation, and remodel, but technique being more important. We had lots of new wood, and reinforced timber down there, so we bought it.
The house has survived a few large earthquakes and bouts with termites, so no worries on it standing another 100 years if needed. After a month of working on it, I finally found the attic access in a closet. A hole had been cut and panel put in place over the whole closet, so it wasn't apparent that it opened up at first.
When I got up there to rewire some circuits, I found a rats nest (literally, and figuratively) of knob and tube wiring, blown in cellulose insulation etc. Once I cleaned it up, I found that the whole original structure is old growth redwood, and that the ceiling is 1.5" of cross laid 6" planking with rough cut timbers on top. Then the roof is pitched on top of that without the A members. So imagine that the roof is just sort of tacked on to a solid redwood box.
The construction is somewhere between a barn and a boat, with no chance of remodel or structural additions.
We learned to be OK with short ceilings.