If you are a preservationist who thinks all old houses should be restored to their original condition (except for the concession of bathrooms)...you may want to look away now.
Our fireplace when we moved in:
We discovered the mantle is not original - there was old wallpaper underneath it and the brackets don't quite match the exterior ones. So we don't feel too guilty about taking it down. Applying thinset to the floors and then drilling in monster screws took a lot of willpower though. I apologize to any future owners of this house who may (inexplicably) wish to replace the hearth we are working on. Really, really sorry. :(
But look how hot this is:
Grout to be applied tomorrow and slate facing up the chimney in September, after our new woodstove is installed. Progress makes Bill happy: