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Removing Interior Walls...

I have a 3-bedroom, 1955 Eichler in Rancho San Miguel, Walnut Creek. The original kitchen has served its purpose - time for a change!

The plan calls for reducing the wall which separates the the Kitchen from the Living Room. This wall contains load-bearing posts, which I am ok with (I'm going to wrap 'em in brushed stainless and call 'em "industrial chic") BUT...what about the 2x4 that is at 90° to the wall? It connects this central wall to the exterior wall of the house, and forms a "frame" for the kitchen doorway.

One contractor tells me that it's purely cosmetic, another tells me it is holding the house together.

Has anyone had experience removing this piece of wood? Is your house still standing??