So What Does This Place Look Like, Anyway?



Do you like old houses or are you just looking for a way to pass some time?

Either way.. uhmmm... err....

Have you ever tried your hand at burning paint?......Would you like to learn?

I'm always looking for .....(cough, cough!).......volunteers to burn paint. Then, after, I have a fence that could use whitewashing.

This was the exterior in 1984 when I bought the house.


(I did save a square or two of the fake brick so I could remember how it looked)



As the eye doctor says: "Which is better....A or B?" 


When I set about to restore the house I looked around for old pictures of the exterior, pictures that would  give me a hint about the chimney, the front, and the steps.  For years I searched.  I talked with the previous owners to see what they remembered.  The chimney had been changed long before they bought the house in the 1920's but the owner did remember sitting on steps that went straight down the front.  I had been hoping for steps that went up both sides. Many houses in this area have such steps.  I felt that the steps had been wooden. If they were stone I would still have 'em, right?  So what happened?  Of course AFTER the work was completed a picture of the front came to light. 


There was a shop that was taken down in the 1930's to become a driveway.  At the very back of the shop there was a 2 story structure partially attached to the northeast corner of the house.  Ghosting of the clapboards and wood shingles on the back of the house let me know a structure had been there even before I saw this picture.

Here are my steps. I had been right about that they had gone straight down and while I would have loved to have had simply steps as seen in the picture, safety codes require a hand rail for any steps over 3. 


Since I had NO idea about the front door I had the 4 panel doors that are in the hallway copied figuring that even if I wasn't right at least I had a reason for my choice.  Of course,  what happened?  A year after I had the front door made a picture surfaced of what was.... if not the original door an early door and of COURSE I was wrong. Here's a picture taken of the house in the 1920's showing an 8 panel door, front steps and the shop that I knew existed and was pulled down to make way for my driveway and garage. 

Since I had NO idea about the front door I had a 4 panel door in the hallway copied figuring that even if I wasn't right, at least I had a reason for the choice.  My inflexible attitude about restoration caused me to removed early boards from around the  hallway side of the doorframe meaning that the replacement door could be the same thickness as the original front door even if it was thin.  Going back to original is good, isn't it?   I gave no thought as to WHY the early change had been made so that a thicker door could be used.  No thought. that is for several years.  By that time, the afternoon sun beating down on it started to take its toll.  The panels were so thin that they split and kept doing so in different places, no matter how often I filled cracks with wood putty. It was a disaster in the winter.  I had to hang blankets over the door it let  that much cold air.   The bottom right corner  rotted at the peg  and with the sun basically turned to charcoal.  Now I understood WHY they had padded the door frame out to accept a thicker door.  I learned, the hard way, why the door had been changed so early.  I made the same mistake the builders had made.  It just goes to show I should have asked myself WHY this change had been made.  They were telling me something  I just wasn't listening.  




The fact that the door had rotted gave me an opportunity, even if it was an EXPENSIVE opportunity,  to have a new front door.  The door in the 1929  picture was, I'm sure, NOT the original.  Theirs had probably met the same fate as mine.  I learned from my mistake and just like the first owners I had the doorframe padded out to allow for a new  THICKER door, installed in February of 2003.