Posts Tagged ‘architecture’

Unique Historic Home Details – Nursery Rhyme Tile

Friday, March 6th, 2015

I haven’t come across them too often, but when I do, I always try and photograph the nursery rhyme tiles I find in historic homes. They seem to be in homes ranging across a huge span, from the 1890’s to the 1930’s (at least the ones pictured below). I have found them most commonly in fireplace surrounds, but also in children’s bathrooms. Of course I tell owners that they have something special and to preserve them in their natural place in the home. Ripping them out for some “new” trend borders on criminal (at least to a preservationist like me). No matter who seems them, the response is always the same…lot’s of ooh’s and aah’s from the adults, giggling like children at the site of these old nursery rhymes.

Nursery Rhyme Tile at New Victorian Bed and Breakfast

Bathroom Childrens Tile

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Great Sources for Hard to Find Replacement Pieces

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Princeton Historic Home DoorknobRenovating an older home has all kinds of challenges, but sometimes the hardest part is finding replacement pieces. Many times, homes have been stripped of their original light fixtures, stained glass windows, or hardware. Other times, time itself has deteriorated pieces beyond repair. The most aggravating part is trying to find historically accurate replacements that even the pros won’t know aren’t “real”.

Hardware

Hardware can be the most aggravating to find, but luckily there are some companies that still realize old homes need fixing too.

  • Window sashes: First of all, don’t replace your old windows! If you’re in need of some heavy cast iron sash weights, check out Architectural Iron. Missing sash pulleys or sash cords can be found at Smith Restoration Sash.
  • Butler Pantry doors: Door no longer swinging? If your looking for a replacement piece, you won’t find one at Home Depot. Instead, check out Bommer Industries double action spring pivot. Viola, problem solved!
  • Door knobs: Besides going to your local architectural salvage companies to find original door fixtures, you can also try online sites that specialize in reproduction hardware like Crown City Hardware or House of Antique Hardware, as well as look for original pieces on Etsy or Ebay.

Lighting

The most dramatic pieces of a historic home can be the lighting fixtures. Even the smallest can be inspiring. I love walking around auctions, antique stores, and architectural salvage companies to admire the beautiful chandeliers, sconces, and lights for sale. But you can find great fixtures online, too. Rejuvenation has a special “restored antiques” section where you can buy real vintage light fixtures. Some might be expensive, but if you want the real deal, be prepared to drop some cash. In your search, keep an open mind about replacements. While you may not be able to find an exact replica, there are many options available true to the period of your home.

 

The Donaldson House: A Look Into One of Minnesota’s Grand Homes

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

The Donaldson Mansion was selected last year to be featured in Larry Millet’s new book coming out in November, “Preserving Our Grand Homes: Minnesota’s Own”. It’s being published through the Minnesota Historical Society. Larry gave me a call asking if I knew of any extraordinary homes that might work for his book, and I said, “Well, yes, I think I have just the home you are looking for!”.  The owner was very excited and honored that his home was one of the few that made the cut list.

Larry and crew stopped by a month ago and filmed a short video of the home for the book release, and all I can say is that I wish it was longer!

Round Barn in Red Wing

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014
Historic Round Barn Red Wing

Looking up into the rafters

The historic Round Barn property just outside of Redwing. I wrote a blog post about the property a few years ago when I was allowed to photograph the barn and grounds. The main house is new and currently run as a Bed and Breakfast.

Round Barn Redwing Minnesota

 

Know Your House’s Style

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

I see it all the time. An agent that doesn’t specialize in historic homes lists a home for sale and calls it a Victorian when it is really something else. You would think that the “year built” would give it away, but most real estate agents have no clue that historic home styles were built in certain time frames. Agents look at decorative trim on a house and think it is a Victorian, but what they don’t realize is that the home did not originally have that trim, but was instead added by a later owner. Needless to say, this drives me crazy, and is one of the reasons I educate sellers on the need to have a historic home specialist market their home.

 What is it? Victorian? Greek Revival? Colonial?

Knowing the historic architecture of your home can also teach you what is and isn’t original to the home. Over the years, I have been a detective for homes that have been renovated, trying to find out for example what a room was originally used for, or where a door/window used to be. Finding “shadows” (as I call them), on exterior or interior walls can tell you what the trim might have looked like, and knowing the historic style of your home will help in this endeavor. Figuring out the original floor plan will be an easier task if you know the home was built as a Greek Revival, and not a Colonial Revival.

From my perspective, if an agent can’t properly describe the style of your home, you might think twice about hiring them.

The Sauntry Mansion is Stillwater

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

626 N 4th St, Stillwater

This beautiful Queen Anne historic home in Stillwater was built in 1881 by William Sauntry, a local lumber baron. The Recreation Hall sitting directly behind the mansion, or Gymnasium as it was called back in the day, was built in 1902 in the Moorish style, and is now a separate residence. Both buildings are on the National Registry of Historic Places.

While not a pioneer of the lumber trade in Stillwater, William Sauntry learned his craft from the best, the Timber King Frederick Weyerhaeuser. Weyerhaeuser took Sauntry, who is related to Bing Crosby, under his wing where Sauntry flourished. Sauntry directed the Ann River Logging Company which cut most of the last logs in the St. Croix River Valley. When logging dried up, Sauntry put his money into mining on some lands he owned on the Mesabi range. Not knowing a thing about the mining business, he ended up losing what money he had earned from logging. On November 10, 1914, at the Ryan Hotel in Saint Paul, he committed suicide by shooting himself with a revolver.

Sauntry Mansion in 1921, Courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society

Sauntry Mansion in 1921, Courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society

The Suantry Mansion is now run as a very successful Bed and Breakfast by the current owners, who purchased the home about ten years ago.

Inside the gymnasium in 1919

Inside the gymnasium in 1919, Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society