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A bit more on the beam. The beam traverses the width of the house addition, crosses (perpendicular) one side wall of the stairwell and ends over the 2nd stairwell side wall. I'm not sure if this complicates the problem or not.
My intention is to install a beam over the existing one, then, remove the existing beam and install a ceiling approx. 12" higher than current ceiling. If the project requires a lot of carpentry skill, or is dangerous to myself or the house, I'll get a qualified contractor to do it. For now, though, I don't have enough information to evaluate the project.