The Lane Group is honored to have recently been featured in the “Sixty-Six Distinctive Homes of Ponte Vedra Beach” publication. Please visit http://www.66distinctivehomes.com/ for ordering information.
This is a 1928 Marsh & Saxelbye house that is currently undergoing a ground up renovation. Proposed exterior changes include a new porte cochere, new conservatory, an enlarged garage connector as well as two additional bays in the garage. This house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
Every design tells a story, and when it comes to historical renovations, the beginning of their stories are as important as their endings. So where did the story of this red-doored home begin?
The broken pediment door surround alludes to a design style story staged clearly in the boom of classical Colonial Revival, Georgian, but what about the low-sloped, hipped roof with wide overhangs? Or the horizontal lines of the brick belt-course extending up to the sill of the second-floor windows nestled under stucco facade? These are all standard Prairie-style characteristics of the 1900-1920s. So the question remains, when was the initial chapter of the design style written?
This house was indeed constructed in 1922. Chapter One. However, when the current owners retained us to design the home’s front porch in 2007, we had no way of knowing what had happened to the home between 1922 and 2007. Chapter Two and on were blank until ‘The End’, but that’s when our red-doored mystery was solved. Luck and a bit of detective work while researching tax records, led us to a local, past owner who was not only able to write a letter detailing the changes made to the house over time, but also provide photographs of how the house looked in 1922 when it was first constructed.
With the story nearly complete, illustrations and all, we set out to write, design, the final chapter by restoring the home to its native Prairie style. Identifying and restoring historical homes to their destined design not only requires a dedicated architect, but also a novelist and sleuth.
The owner’s had initially retained The Lane Group Inc. to investigate the feasibility of renovating and remodeling an existing two-story frame house with a detached single-story garage that was set toward the back of the over grown corner lot located on the west side of Baltic Circle in Old Ortega. However charming and romantic the idea of repairing the existing house for the owners and their two young boys was, the years of disrepair, water intrusion and termites had taken their toll so the reluctant conclusion was to retain the garage but design a new house.
Wood floors, doors and plumbing fixtures were removed for re-use into the new home, and the owner’s dedication to several key concepts and features remained. The owner wanted to minimize the impact of the construction on the site, the idea of an understated simple quiet “House in a Field” was the image she wanted to accomplish for her and her family. No manicured irrigated lawn maintained with pesticides for this family. In fact, all pressure treated lumber on site had to be cut over a tarp so the remnants could be easily and safely removed from the site. No interior-grade plywood, particleboard or glues with formaldehyde could be used. Indoor air quality, re-cycling and off-gassing were all critical topics of conversation that the owner was committed to seeing incorporated. Once the interior painting and wood floors were finished, the heaters were turned on high and the house was baked for three days to speed up the curing process of the finishes, minimize their off-gassing before the owners moved in and reduce the chemical releases in construction products which are part of the indoor air quality equation.
With the new, eco-friendly materials, certain items from the original house took on a new life in the new house. After culling through the wood floors, enough was salvaged to compose the attic’s flooring while the first two floors, stair treads, hand railing and newel post were installed using re-claimed flooring. Used brick was incorporated for the front porch floor and steps, stem wall of the foundation wall as well as the walkways around the house. While the original doors had to be abandoned after years of sagging warped them beyond reuse, re-finished pedestal sinks, footed bathtubs and a free-standing laundry sink all found a new purpose within the home.
Even detail pieces like the light fixtures were revitalized in this home of an antique collector who recognized their aged character. One other request of the nostalgic owner was a second-story sleeping porch which had special childhood memories of visits to her grandmother’s home. The porch was designed in the northwest corner of the house off of the master bedroom and can still be identified in the elevations by the banks of windows mulled together. The sleeping porch was enclosed to create a sewing room for the owner.
Many of the lessons and concepts we learned and issues we overcame in designing this home have since been incorporated as standards in the design toolbox we use for our clients today. We continue to educate ourselves and work with the leading contractors and engineers in the field of energy efficient design, highly insulated and environmental-responsible construction concepts for our clients and our community at large. The widespread availability of new “green” ideas and products are a welcomed focus on critical sustainability issues that clients like the Wallace’s requested to be incorporated into their home almost 20 years ago. They were truly clients with a vision ahead of its time who pushed us to the new, leading edge of green design phenomenon. We continue to be thankful for the opportunity we had to learn from them while designing their home.
Another great illustration by Green Building Solutions. This illustration breaks down the U.S. energy consumption and how it is used by commercial and residential buildings.
We would like to thank the Riverside Avondale Preservation as well as the Mayor’s Disability Council for hosting the breakfast workshop on Making Historic Properties Accessible on Monday, July 25. This was a great event that included (4) wonderful speakers from the area.
This is a wonderful article on home insulation and how to stay green.
If you haven’t already, please pick up a copy of the July 2011 issue of the Resident Community Newspaper and take a look at our article on page 22. Thanks to Seth for including us in this month’s issue!