September 06, 2013

For Right's Sake

Well meaning people with great intentions can ruin a home’s aesthetic appeal. This 1853 mill worker’s home in Newtown Square witnessed the Civil War, the Great Depression, the heroics of the greatest generation, and sadly, some really misguided efforts to “historically restore” it in recent decades. 

While a large walk-in fireplace would have been built into a colonial-era kitchen, it would not have been tacked onto to the exterior of a “parlor” in the 1850’s as the previous owner had done. One does not have to be a connoisseur of historic preservation to see that something is just wrong in these before photos.

Our client recognized early on, with the assistance of Richard Buchanan of Archer & Buchanan Architecture, that their home needed to find its original voice. Thoroughly understanding how people from yesteryear lived and used their homes, they began the process of re-imagining it. So, off came the chimney that had been tacked on the outside, a window was added, and a new chimney rebuilt into their existing home to better radiate its warmth –  just as it would have done almost two hundred years ago. The results are stunning…

Of course between the “Before” and the pretty “After” photos, found in our portfolio, there are a few intermediate steps…

It begins with the masons removing the stucco from the home.

Down comes the “tacked on” chimney from a 1970’s renovation project and the owner and architect select a pointing style for the stone from a test section prepared by the mason.

With the stucco removed, the carpenters can begin repairing the problems it previously concealed. In this photo, Gary is installing a new frame for a window that was not sized properly.

Here’s when the 1970’s chimney was completely demolished. A channel of stone was gouged out from the 1st floor of the home through the peak of the 3rd floor gable. Notice the new chimney firebox under construction and the red chimney flue rising.

The opening has been made in the wall to accommodate a window to the right of the fireplace inside and you can also see the reclaimed Herringbone brick pattern in the hearth. Meanwhile the finishing touches are added to the chimney outside.

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Too Far Gone?

At what point do you just give up? A two-hundred-year-old structure had been in the family for many years, standing vacant for 12 years prior to our involvement. Assessing the initial condition, we all committed to forge ahead – uniting classic processes and materials with new ones to make the

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