Oldest House in America

The 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 [...] Read on →

Image credit: greggr / 123RF Stock Photo

Quality or Quantity (Which Does Your Home Have?)

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. [...] Read on →

Italianate Style House

Italianate Architectural Style

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 [...] Read on →

Old Bent Nails

The Replacement Generation

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 [...] Read on →

Photo Credit: timrodpark.com

American Foursquare Style

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 [...] Read on →

Photo credit Scott Sidler

Why Does My Old House Have Two Front Doors?

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. [...] Read on →

Photo by Scott Sidler

Dismantling History

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 [...] Read on →

Historic Neighborhood

What is a First Rung 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 [...] Read on →

Ranch Style Home

Is Your Home Part of the “Historical Cusp?”

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 [...] Read on →

Historic Home Tips

Tips For Historic Homeowners {#6 Be a Detective}

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 [...] Read on →

Lake Eola Historic Homes

Save the Historic Homes on Lake Eola

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 [...] Read on →


“Dead as a 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 [...] Read on →


Why I Love Old Houses

There is something special about an old house. The incredible craftsmanship, the quality materials, but most precious is the history and story they tell. It’s easy to get caught up in the nuts and bolts of how to cope a joint properly, or cleanly refinish wood floors, but sometimes I need to remember why I do [...] Read on →

Timber frame

Timber, Balloon, or Platform Frame?

A house’s frame is like its bones. Without a sturdy frame your house is one gust of wind away from collapse. The most common building material used to frame a house is, no surprise, wood. It’s strong, readily available, inexpensive, and extremely versatile. Wood framed houses typically fall into one of three categories depending on [...] Read on →