Here you see the concrete block wall that was behind the wood panelling. Between every two concrete blocks is a layer of wood. A fire hazard and it must be repaired.
After removing one layer of the wood, the contractor realizes that the concrete block is completely not secured to anything. So he tried to remove on the bricks at the top and the whole thing collapses and falls onto the hardwood. A few scratches, but it adds to the character of the floor and gives us something to talk about. Fortunately the contractor was not injured. This is actually a good thing. If we had decided to leave the existing concrete wall in place (we're grandfathered in so didn't have to do anything), there is an excellent chance that the wall would have fallen over (possibly on top of someone) when we placed a say a heavy mantle on it.
After the brick falls, it reveals a nasty brickjob, which is very much in line with the fireplaces of the day. We're guessing the 1950 building codes were pretty slack.
Here is the fireplace at day two, ready to be rebuilt and have an new Bellfire insert put in. The insert is about 9 days away and has to be delivered from T.O.