Friday, June 15, 2012

In the Details

I have enjoyed poring over the details revealed in the 1906 picture of our house that we were recently given.  In many ways the picture confirms that thus far we've been historically accurate in our work on the house.  The joint finish of the mortar in the 1906 stone walls appears to match the joint finish our masons used when they repointed the house.  And I'm pretty confident that the tan paint color we used on the house is also accurate.  Although the 1906 picture is in black and white, it is obvious that the paint used on the house is slightly darker than the (white?) dress worn by the woman in the picture.  The one difference I see between the picture and our influence on the house is the front door.  But in spite of the obviously light colored 1906 front door, I have no plans to part with my Carriage House Red front door any time soon.  : )

Click on the picture for a larger view

The picture also provides details for future work we would like to do.  We knew the house originally had shutters (the hinges are still on the 2nd story window frames), but I've pondered what color to paint the shutters when we someday replace them.  Now I know to go dark - a deep forest green seems appropriate based on the picture.  We also now know that the original first story windows have always been six-over-six.  This detail did surprise me, as I suspected the originals would have been nine-over-six.  The picket fence was also an unexpected but wonderful detail in the picture.  Adding a picket fence in front of the kitchen has actually been among my plans for this summer, so I'm thrilled to now have something to model my fence after.

And peeking out behind the horses and tree on the left side of the picture is proof that the kitchen wing has been on the house since at least the early 1900s.  Having seen the intimate structural details of that wing I'm not surprised to see it in a picture from 1906. (Frankly, I'd expect to see the kitchen wing in an Einsel House picture from the 1880's.)

But of all the details in the 1906 picture, the one I've spent the most time studying is the front porch.  The Einsel House had a front porch when we bought it back in 2009, but it was obvious that porch was not original to the house.  It was also in poor condition.  So before having the front of the house repointed we removed the existing porch, planning all along to someday replace it with a more historically appropriate replacement.  Thanks to one of my mom's cousins, I even have some solid wood 19th century round porch pillars tucked in the loft of our barn. They were removed from said cousin's parents' house sometime in the 1960s and had been stored in his barn since then. When he tore the barn down earlier this year he offered the pillars to me and I eagerly accepted.  In my mind I could see them in an Einsel House porch - with simple corner pillars and an almost flat roof.   Something very similar to the porch on the house pictured below:

Compare the porch above to what the Einsel House looked like when we bought it in 2009:

 And then for fun, compare the 1906 porch to the porch we tore off the house in 2009.

(Note that the little girl is holding a doll)

The 1906 and 2009 porches had a lot more in common than I expected.  That said, they also had many dissimilarities.  The square pillars on the 1906 porch all appear to be the same size, while the corner pillars on the 2009 porch were larger than the other pillars.  Although it is difficult to see the details of the 1906 porch's roof, the picture seems to show the flat roof I expected and not the gabled appearance of the 2009 porch roof.  (Also note the black line on the stone in the 2009 picture - I suspect this marks where the original roof met the house.)  Finally, if you look very carefully at the 1906 picture you can just make out a porch rail between the two pillars on the left.   The rail appears to be very similar (or even identical) to the rail inside the house at the top of the stairs.    

While we are probably still years away from it, I'm so glad this picture came to us before we replaced the porch.  Because the porch in that 1906 picture is even better than any porch I would have envisioned on my own.   The inspiration for rebuilding the porch is now hanging in the dining room.  And every time I walk by I want to stop and study the picture for more details - you know, just in case I missed something the other 2,638 times I've looked at it.  : )


  1. Hello,

    Having just spent way too much time reading your blog from ealiest post to most recent, I wanted to compliment you on your amazing restoration and blog. I'm not sure if I'm more impressed by what you have done to the house, or that you were sufficiently dedicated to document and and post so regularly on your progress. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thank you! Having seen the amazing work you've done with your own home, your comment is humbling indeed. (Your most recent post on building a stone wall was especially entertaining - I was sitting at my computer nodding in agreement the whole time I was reading!)