The Greenest Building is the One Already Built

Greenest Building

“The greenest building is the one that is already built.” Architect Carl Elefante who is the Director of Sustainable Design at Qunin Evans Architects in Washington, D.C. said it very succinctly. Eco-nerds talk about sustainability and energy-efficient design as much as us preservation-nerds talk about wood windows and plaster. But isn’t it amazing when two worlds that have little to do with each other normally can come together and fight side by side on an issue. Historic preservation is just […] Read on →

Adam & Georgian Style

Georgian entryway

In America’s early colonial period times were tough and architecture was not foremost on settler’s minds. Survival was the name of the game and the architecture of the time reflected that with simple utilitarian homes. By 1700 America’s population had grown into the millions and its citizens had begun to attain some wealth for themselves. This prosperity led to a desire for more and nicer things and the architectural trends from Europe began to be imported to the New […] Read on →

Ask The Craftsman: Wood Shingle Roofs Gone Forever?

Wood shingles

This week’s question comes from Jeremy in Tampa, FL. “Why does no one use legitimate cedar or wood shake shingles anymore?…didn’t some of the older houses begin that way?” Good question Jeremy! I love the look of wood shingle roofs and despite what a lot of folks might think wood shingle roofs can last just as long, if not longer, than asphalt shingles. Shakes are hand-split shingles and regular shingles are saw-cut. Shakes are generally thicker and much […] Read on →

The Oldest City in America

Oldest School in America

Recently, my wife and I went on vacation to the oldest city in America. Luckily, I have a wife who loves old buildings (almost) as much as I do! I wanted to share some of the history and pictures with you since it truly was an incredible experience. What is the oldest city in America, you ask? Surely, it has to be in New England near the oldest house in America somewhere around Plymouth rock where the Pilgrims […] Read on →

The Bungalow: America’s Home

Bungalow

Ever since it burst on the scene the bungalow has been an immensely popular style of architecture. You won’t find it listed in many books on architecture though because it is not a true architectural style like the Colonial Revival, Queen Anne Victorian, or its most closely related cousin the American Craftsman. The bungalow is a simple everyman’s house. Nothing too grand or big. No ornate gingerbread trim with extravagant 10-color paint schemes. Of all the historic home styles […] Read on →

The Oldest House in America

Oldest House in America

  What is the oldest house in America? Is there any way to really tell? The answer is yes, we really can tell what the oldest house in America is…we think. When you go back centuries to colonial times records are not quite as complete or straight forward as they are today, but there are many ways to determine the age of a structure. The oldest house in America is a timber frame house built ca. 1637-1641 in […] Read on →

5 Types of Dormers

Dormer

Dormers are like the eyes of a house. Resting on roof tops they add headroom and light to upper stories and add interest to an otherwise plain roofline. I remember spending the first spring in our little bungalow sitting on the roof restoring the two eyebrow dormers that were almost rotted away. It was exhausting work being on that steep slope day after day, but when it was finished the pay off was incredible. Our house no longer […] Read on →

How To: Build Historic Lattice

Historic Lattice

Lattice was a very common thing on old houses. Not just for flowering backyard trellises, but to protect foundations from critters, varmints and the neighbor’s nosing cat. Just because lattice performs a valuable function keeping your crawl space free of pests doesn’t mean it can’t be a beautiful part of your home’s curb appeal. Don’t settle for the dirt cheap home store version of lattice. This stuff is so thin and poorly assembled that it rarely lasts more […] Read on →

25 Old House Terms Defined

Balusters in a balustrade

Old houses have a lot of terms that you may not be familiar with. So, having a working definition of those terms will help save you confusion and overuse of phrases like Whatchamacallit or Thingamajig. Save yourself the hassle with this handy guide to 25 old house terms you need to know. Baluster (Balustrade) – Balusters are sometimes referred to as spindles. They are the vertical members (often decorative) that make up railing on porches and stairways. A […] Read on →

Italianate Architectural Style

Italianate Style House

The Italianate style was an elaborate architectural style popular in the U.S. at much the same time as the Gothic Revival style, from the early 1840s until the mid 1880s. The Italainate style was extraordinarily popular in the northeast, midwest and particularly common in San Francisco, which transformed from a small village into a major American port city from the 1850s to the 1870s. The Italianate style is almost completely absent from the southern states because of the […] Read on →

American Foursquare Style

Photo Credit: timrodpark.com

The American Foursquare, sometimes called the “Prairie Box” was a hugely popular architectural style in almost every part of the country. It is one of the consumate American house styles. Though not technically an architectural style on its own (it’s a subtype of The Prairie Style) the American Foursquare is so prevalent that I thought it deserved its own page. Simple, efficient and affordable, the American Foursquare could be fit onto any small city lot. Popular from the […] Read on →

Getting Square with the 3:4:5 Triangle

345

This post may be a bit on the math nerd side, but sometimes in construction a math nerd is the one who makes the difference between a building falling down and one that lasts a hundred years. Old houses are notoriously void of right angles. They have shifted and settled over the years and nothing is either plumb or level. But I’m going to teach you how to remedy that. I’ll admit that math was not my finest […] Read on →

Why Does My Old House Have Two Front Doors?

Photo credit Scott Sidler

Lots of old homes have the mysterious second front door. Some were added in renovations over the years, but others are original. The explanations for these original double doors are all over the map. Many folks finally give up hope of finding an answer to this architectural mystery, but I have some ideas for you. If your old house has two front doors there are a number of reasons. Depending on your home’s style, age, location and size […] Read on →

When Did The Garage Become So Important?

Garage House

I was driving through the suburbs yesterday on the way to a friend’s place when I noticed something that has never really stood out to me before. House after house, street after street I noticed a pattern. The houses in this area were standard 1990s – 2000s stucco behemoths typical in Florida. Aside from being some of the most slapdash construction, I noticed that they all shared one design element that defied logic to me. Every one of […] Read on →