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: What’s With the Pineapples?

pineapple fence

This week’s question comes from…my wife. Seriously, she has been wanting me to write about this for awhile now. And yes, I’ll be sending her a free copy of my eBook as a thank you. Why are there pineapples carved on fences and other parts of old houses? This topic came up because in our neighborhood we have a house that we affectionately call “The Pineapple House.” It has at least a dozen pineapples carved into its fence and porch [...] 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 →

Empty Stairs, Missing History

Empty stairs

All around my town there are remnants of our history hiding in broad daylight. Hints of the past that are overlooked by almost all of us. Too small to be of much consequence anymore they are simply place markers to say that there once was something here. Something grand or something plain. Something we erased from our town’s memory. Stairways that lead to empty lots. Driveways to nowhere. Old addresses stamped on curbs. They evoke both a sadness [...] 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 →

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 →