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 →

Demolition is a Choice, Not a Solution

Old Home Demolition

Recently, I was at a historic homes event here in Winter Park where the keynote speaker was Nicole Curtis of  HGTV/DIY Network’s Rehab Addict. In case you haven’t seen her show, she is an energetic little thing that goes around saving old houses by restoring them with her own two hands. She’s a one-woman preservation society in the Minneapolis area and its incredible! During the speech she said something that has really stayed with me. “Demolition is a choice, [...] 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 →

Quality or Quantity (Which Does Your Home Have?)

Image credit: greggr / 123RF Stock Photo

I grew up in Texas so I like everything big. Big sky, big acreage, big pickup trucks and big steaks. There’s something about a 36 oz steak called the “widow maker” that appeals to me. Maybe it’s the challenge. Maybe it’s just the idea of seeing a steak that size. Whatever it is I’m intrigued. Just because I appreciate the Texas mentality of ‘bigger is better’  doesn’t mean I’m a fan of all things big. America has taken [...] 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 →

The Replacement Generation

Old Bent Nails

In my grandfather’s garage there was a shelf above an old carpenter’s table that was full of mason jars. Each jar had different types of fasteners. Nuts, bolts, machine screws, washers, nails of every size. Anything you could possible need to attach one thing to another could be found in those jars. For a little kid that garage was a place of wonder. I could build and create anything my curious mind came up with. Grampa would show [...] 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 →

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 →

Dismantling History

Photo by Scott Sidler

Last week I helped my friends at Florida Victorian Architectural Antiques with the salvage of four early 20th century homes on the banks of Lake Eola here in Orlando, FL. We were busy removing any parts of the home that may be of some value to someone in the future. Old wood windows were removed and sold off to a house in Daytona Beach. Heart-pine flooring was pulled and cleaned before being delivered to a home somewhere in [...] Read on →

What is a First Rung Neighborhood?

Historic Neighborhood

Occasionally, I use terms on this blog some of my readers may not understand. I recently mentioned “first-rung” neighborhoods in a post and got some comments about what on earth they were. So, for everyone else who didn’t know but didn’t ask, here is your answer. How Cities Grow When areas are first settled there’s no rhyme or reason as to where houses are placed. The city grows organically, and back in the day zoning was virtually non-existent. [...] Read on →

Is Your Home Part of the “Historical Cusp?”

Ranch Style Home

I have a lot of friends and clients whose homes fall into something I like to call the Historical Cusp. They don’t live in a house of any particular historical significance, and it’s not quite old enough to have been built by hand with non-standardized materials. But it still maintains some of the characteristics I love so much about historic homes. Most of these homes were built from about 1945-1960 and they represent a large portion of our [...] Read on →

Tips For Historic Homeowners {#6 Be a Detective}

Historic Home Tips

Every old house is hiding some pieces of its past, and it’s up to you to figure them out. Many folks want to restore old details that have been removed or covered up over the years. And while some remodels may have completely wiped out any signs of the past there may still be ways to discover how your old house once was. Attics, Basements & Crawlspace - A notoriously good pace to start looking for missing windows, screens, [...] Read on →

Save the Historic Homes on Lake Eola

Lake Eola Historic Homes

Lake Eola’s last remaining historic homes are in danger of destruction. Yesterday I learned of the City of Orlando’s plans to remove 5 historic (according the Orlando Sentinel these homes are only “semi-historic” whatever that may mean) homes dating from 1915-1930 that border Lake Eola park in order to add what will presumably be green space and expand the park’s existing borders by approximately 1 acre. While I think more and bigger parks are a wonderful part of [...] Read on →

“Dead as a Doornail”

Doornail

Just a little fun mid-week post about something I’ve been thinking about. Who hasn’t used the phrase “Dead as a doornail” at some point in their life? And how many of us actually know where the term comes from? That’s what I thought. Well, as it turns out we may have medieval carpenters to thank for the phrase. Dead as a doornail goes back to the 14th century when doornails were as common as…well…doors. In the days before [...] Read on →