Our house is more than 100 years old with a brick foundation, and we have begun renovating our front wraparound porch. When we removed the porch decking, we found what we believe to be an old coal bin -- about 5 to 6 feet deep, 6 feet wide and 12 feet long under part of the porch. A very old wood wall separates this bin from dirt which rises to a normal level under the rest of the porch. This wood wall continues around two other sides of the coal bin, but the fourth wall -- the brick wall of the basement -- is exposed. The wood wall facing the street is broken in one section and some dirt is seeping int the bin. An old brick and concrete block wall supporting the porch and bordering the bin is deteriorating and may be contributing to this instability. Inside the coal bin, you can see our water pipe.

We are thinking the best solution is to fill in the coal bin with dirt and rebuild the masonary wall that supports the porch. Does this make sense? If we poured dirt into the coal bin hole, could the dirt put too much stress on the brick wall of our basement? Is it OK to bury the water pipe? Does filling in the coal room sound like the best option? If not, do you have any other suggestions to do a repair that will last but is cost efficient? We are trying to maintain the character of our house and we don't want to do a porch remodel that would not fit with its Victorian architecture. Thanks for any help you can provide.