New Members with a 1919 Four Square

wv4squareApril 7, 2009

Hello! My wife and I purchased this 1919 foursquare last July and have been enjoying all the quirks and lessons that one experiences in their first old house (and our first house period!).

It's been a real learning experience, as we've started on new projects that we've never tried before, and learned interesting things that are unique to old houses (such as the fact that the local historic house specialist will charge you almost as much as the sale price to repair/replace a rotting pine T&G beaded soffit to original condition). It's been a great time, though, and I can't wait for the journey ahead.

We have a list of over 100 projects to tackle over the coming years, from things as simple as replacing sash locks to bigger projects like a full landscaping overhaul or restoring all of the approximately 50 (mostly original) windows.

FYI, since this picture was taken we've done a little bit of work on the yard: dethatching (by hand!), leveling low spots and re-seeding where the yard was bare and rather dead. It's still a work in progress, but it's getting greener everyday!

We look forward to being able to participate here, and tap the collective knowledge of the board as we set out to bring out the best in our beloved house!

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am just curious what you plan to do with the enclosed porch.

I had one on a reno I did. I thought it looked terrible. But inside it on a cold winter day luxuriating in the sun, it seemed like a plus, so I kept it. As have the new owners.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 11:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We plan to keep it.

There was a bit of debate regarding that, since the original front door and windows are all intact and beautiful. However, it would take extensive work to bring the door back up to working status and we would lose a room that we really enjoy. The porch seems to serve as a "buffer" between our main living area and the world outside. As silly as it is, I actually feel safer with it there!

Also, the work appears to have been done a LONG time ago, and is almost approaching preservation-worthy in its own right (for us, that is).

We do, however, have plans to dress up the front for the time being--stripping and staining the wood around the door and windows, repainting the steps, and repointing the brickwork--with eventual plans to replace the 60's era storm windows with wood-frame or invisible ones and replace the door with a more appropriate transom/sidelite/door set.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 11:31AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for sharing the pic and telling us about your home! What a great house, I love your tile roof. It sounds like you are enjoying the restoration journey so far. Nice to have you here.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 12:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Happy to see it! I have a four square also but in a sad state of disrepair currently. Our front porch was enclosed in the most horrible and unappealing, cheap way and it is on our list of things that will be done asap for cosmetic reasons.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 12:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Count me in as another fan of your lovely tile roof.
Cute house, can't wait to see what you do with it!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 2:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Great house! I'm guessing your roof tiles are Ludowici tiles. They are still made. If you ever need roof work, do NOT let any old roofer touch that roof. Get a tile roof specialist. That type of roof can be repaired in small pieces - it won't ever need a full pull off.

Another plus to me is that the rafter tails are all still in place - very cool.

Wooden storms are a great idea as well. There are plans for making them on various internet sites - not hard if you have the right tools.

Hope you continue enjoying your home!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 3:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks to everyone that has commented so postively!

The rafter tail/dental trim/lookouts/what-have-you and the tile roof were the two big exterior details that really attracted us. The fun interior colors, built-in library (modern, but very nicely done), and ample sq. footage sealed the deal.

I have been looking into Ludowici, but recently found a stockpile of extra tiles in the garage that bear the mark of a company from (I believe) Chicago. I'm going to have our roofer check on that when he comes out for a seasonal inspection soon. Luckily, we're spared the difficult task of finding a suitable roofing company, as only ONE in the entire area will even TOUCH tile, slate, or antique roofs! The company has been in business two years longer than our house has stood, and has a great reputation and track record in the town. Also, they were responsible for major work that was performed before we purchased the house (including relaying almost all of the tile after having to fix a leak problem that caused the rotting soffits).

We feel very fortunate to have as much intact as we do, given that most houses in our area have succumbed to shingles and vinyl soffits!

I've included a picture of the first planned stage of our renovations. Not pictured: a lilac we'll be planting in front yard (left side as you face the house), daylilies through the ornamental grasses, replacing the lockset, putting in a period-appropriate artglass lamp on the post, and of course the wooden storms. The temporary "sidelites" mimic the actual sidelites on the original entry door, while preserving the security and privacy that's currently there. Also, much of this will serve as aesthetic enhancement until we can find--and afford!--a suitable (preferably salvaged) front entry unit with transom, door, and matching sidelites.

I certainly hope to build and DIY as much as I can on the house, both for financial and satisfaction purposes!

I'll be sure to update with pictures as we turn the present into this future ideal. My wife and I are also considering a little house blog, as she's quite the blogger (she runs a new-ish food blog).

Thanks for the words of encouragement.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 4:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What a jewel! Houses like that just scream that they are solidly built. It also thrills me that the house ended up with people like you, who obviously appreciate it.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 7:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you very much for the kind words! My wife and I feel extremely lucky to be privileged enough to be temporary stewards of such a solid, beautiful testament to early 20th century construction.

Luckily, prior buyers were turned off by certain things, like the "weird" library or the inconvenience of "having" to paint all of the stained clear oak trim stark white! One even planned to subdivide the house into cheap apartments for college students.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 12:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am trying to figure out why a section of the porch cornice seems to jut out an extra amount above the left-most window. Could you give us another pic from a slightly different angle so I can figure it out? Very beautiful foursquare. I take it you are in WV? So am I, Jefferson County.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 9:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Do you ever crawl up on top of the porch and pet the pretty tiles? Ok maybe not...but I sure would. Gad what a beauty! Welcome to hel...umm I mean old house ownership :oP Honestly it's a beaut, please share more!

We made our offer this morning on our own trip straight to old house hel...ummm heaven. :) I hope to be posting soon that it's "MINE!!" (and then I can start my 100 item list LOL)

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 12:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

sombreuil_mongrel: The jutting you see is two things. The first step-out, over the left most window is a feature of the trim. The soffit is recessed slightly over the door and center windows, but steps out to the full width to meet the sides around the area of the brick columns. The second step out (over the brick pillar itself) is the gutter. The gutters may or may not be the original style that was put onto the house, but they're certainly a modern installation. I haven't checked, but almost all of the other four squares, especially the few with original roofs, have hidden gutters, which leaves me to believe that the standard gutters we have may be a large departure from what was original. That being said, we don't have the wide, flat outcropping that the houses with hidden gutters possess, so this may be the original style! More mysteries to solve, it seems.

And yes, we're in WV. Cabell County, to be exact! Fours quares form a large part of the history and style of our section of town. Not many people know it, but Huntington has extensive architectural heritage.

From large, ancient mansions to imposing Arts & Crafts structures (we're only a block or two from a hand-cut stone house with EXTENSIVE preserved detail that served as the family estate for a founding member of Huntington's financial scene), the signature four square and even a few impressive modernist pieces (including one of the last designs of Walter Gropius) Huntington's got a lot of architectural eye candy!

igloochic: Good luck! Let us know how everything goes.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 8:53AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Strip flooring with unusual cross section
(Cross posted from Flooring forum) I'm renovating a...
1850s exterior door hardware?
I have an 1857 Italianate-ish home that is missing...
Civil War Markers
We know that the house we purchased was built before...
1940 house (colonial) need period lighting advice
Hi! I'm really trying to stick with lighting that would...
Stripper for stripper-resistant paint?
I'm having a tough time removing multiple layers of...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™