In trying to research some of the house's early history, it seems as though the house narrowly missed inclusion in several documents that would have really helped figure some things out. For example, if the house was built in 1878 as has been reported, it just missed being in the Compton & Dry map (1876) by 2 years, and that map - a hand-drawn bird's eye view of the entire city - is usually scary accurate.
Similarly, the home sits in an area of the city that wasn't quite yet developed enough to merit inclusion in the 1895-1898 Whipple maps, just missing making the map by all of a couple blocks. The Whipple maps are a lot like the Sanborn maps in that they show individual homes and lots, with a considerable amount of detail.
That said, I do have the 1903 Sanborn map, and it shows the house and lot looking like this:
As mentioned in a previous blog, the detached buildings at the rear of the lot were replaced by a brick garage at some point. The attached structure at the rear of the house, that was some kind of covered deck or porch, and is now a halfway modern deck. But the little attached, angled structure, its bones are still there. I believe it was once a porch, although it was converted to more of a 3-season room at some point many years ago.
Both the halfway modern deck and the 3-season room are in rough shape, and candidates for replacement this summer. The challenge is that 1, it doesn't make a ton of sense to build a brand new deck and then rehab the interior of the house, dragging tools, materials, etc., into and out of the house and across the new deck, and 2, while the porch is a somewhat smaller project, assuming I'd replicate its original size, shape, and function, there's 1 critical detail to deal with: I'd have to stand up 20', maybe 24' 6x6 posts - 2 of them - as part of the construction. Standing up a 16' 6x6 with 2 dudes is no picnic; I don't know how in the world I'd stand up a 20-footer or a 24-footer by myself.
So...do the thing that doesn't make sense to do right now, or do the thing that I don't know if I'm capable of doing...those are the choices. I think I'm going to go with the second one; if I can't figure out some way to Rube Goldberg a couple giant posts into place, the engineering degree I have isn't worth the paper it's printed on.
The deck just doesn't make any sense to do, although it definitely needs to be replaced. And because I haven't ruled out replacing it this year regardless of how the porch situation shakes out, let's talk about the deck for a minute.
I haven't put a tape on it, but it's a moderately-sized deck, maybe 10'-12' x 16'-18', although the stairs eat into that real estate a little bit. Regardless, the deck is pretty rotten. Like, really, really, rotten. And the decking...I've never seen anything like it. Whoever built it, rather than use something traditional, laid down plywood and then thinset brick veneer over it. That's sort of a horrible idea for a variety of reasons, but whoever did it, they get points for creativity.
As you can see, it's nothing but rotten wood and brick veneer. And, while I was sort of surprised to see metal post bases used, the concrete piers the posts sit on are undersized by modern standards, so really...it all needs to go. And at some point, it will. Except for the back door millwork and transom window, that's going to stay and made to look like new.
The project that's more likely to happen sooner rather than later is some sort of replacement of the small, enclosed porch on the side of the house.
Can you spot the parts that most likely date to at least 1903, if not the original house construction date in the late 19th century? I think the corner posts are original for sure, as are the decorative brackets up in the corners. It's tough to see in the pic, but the soffit and fascia appears to be original, as does the floor framing. Granted, it all needs to be replaced at this point, but it's still kinda cool to see those things last as long as they did.
Similarly, can you picture this thing as it may have looked originally, before the fiberglass panels, aluminum, louvered-glass windows, and painted red stairs were added? It's a small little space, but the amount of detail - even the posts have chamfered corners - included in it is pretty cool.
That's the exterior. The interior looks like this:
There's a tile floor, with some kind of pebble tile around the perimeter, a ceiling fan, and a bunch of paneling. It's a collection of mismatched stuff, none of which really reflects the craftsmanship that had to have gone into the porch as it was originally constructed.
However, 1 thing somebody did after the fact that I'm kind of OK with is they relocated the door accessing the porch from the house.
The space is pretty small and impossible to get a full door height pic, but the door on the left is the existing door (obviously), and the window on the right, that's where the original door once was. Somebody closed up the original doorway and moved the door around a corner. The original doorway is super tall, has the arched top, and probably looked pretty cool way back when. The new door is just a rectangular opening, nothing fancy. However, where the door sits now is an exponentially better location than where it sat originally, as it frees up more usable space inside the house.
So, that's the porch. In a perfect world I'd leave the existing roof as-is, and just redo everything underneath it, probably building more of a covered deck than a screened porch or 3-season room, but these are details to be worked out later.
Unless the guy who determines whether or not I get an occupancy permit makes some noise about the porch, then I may have to figure those details out very, very soon.