The Cross House

UNeroding a Historic House

Recently I did a post about the mystery of the porch lights for the Cross House.

In short, what is there now is not what was there originally.

Oh, the horror! The horror!

To correct this egregious historical injustice, I knew I had to remove the lighting sconces to each side of the front doors. This of course meant that there would be holes in the siding, so this, too, had to be repaired.

 

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Last week. One circa-1910 sconce. I never installed its mate to the left. There were also curious electric boxes above the right sconce. In short, visual clutter. Oh, the horror!

 

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It would have been MUCH easier to just carefully infill the holes in the siding. But this would have looked like a REPAIR. Oh, the horror!

 

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So, entire lengths of siding needed replacing. I used the siding from the right to infill on the left. The right siding is new cedar. New $$$$$ cedar.

 

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Priming.

 

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Again, the BEFORE.

 

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And the AFTER! Whoee!!!!!!!! Sooooooooooo much better, right? I have been wanting to do this for two years.

 

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Of course, now I no lighting on the porch, save the light from the vestibule ceiling fixture (behind the stained-glass above the entry doors). I previously wrote that a porch ceiling fixture was likely used in 1894. This would have been a gas/electric combination of a type shown here (thank Bo!). However, until I can get into the attic of the porch, I cannot confirm that there was a ceiling fixture. This small mystery should be answered soon. If there wasn’t a ceiling fixture I will not install one, and will have to go to Plan B, which I will figure out…later.

 

All this effort was generated by something I often ponder.

Over time, historic buildings get…eroded. I don’t mean a physical erosion but rather visual. You know, beautiful wood floors get covered by carpeting, unpainted interior trim gets painted, fabulous original hardware is replaced with less-than-fabulous, wood shingles on the roof get replaced with asphalt, wood shutters are taken down or replaced with undersized plastic versions, original windows are replaced with white vinyl, porch railings are replaced with much taller and much skinner Home Depot crap, and on and on and on.

Over time, such incremental changes, seemingly innocuous at the time, add up and what was originally just perfect visually, and stunning, is so much less so in 2016. This is akin to taking a beautiful painting and removing bits, painting over bits, tacking on some bits, and replacing the frame with plastic. You can imagine the results.

For me, it is always a victory to UNerode a historic building. And every act of UNerosion, no matter how small, is a special delight.

 

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Circa.1900.

 

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Today, after much erosion. The house luckily has a lusciously intact interior, and was recently featured on Old House Dreams. I would LOVE to UNerode this house.

 

 

 

2 Responses to UNeroding a Historic House

  1. UNerode, lol good term. I’d love to unerode a house because the before and afters always shocks peoples pants off.

  2. Isn’t it Old House Journal that has that page called Remuddling – a term I always found appropriate.

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