Home Remuddling

I’m a big fan of Old House Journal magazine.  I think I have every issue ever published – I’ve been buying the magazine for years and completed my set with ebay purchases.

No matter how much I try to resist I can’t help but turn to the last page of the magazine first.  It’s OHJ’s “remuddling” feature.  Each month they pair a photo of a house, unfortunately renovated into a shadow of its former self, with a photo of  another house that looks like the sad sack house would’ve looked before remuddling.

The feature is a guilty pleasure – sure to draw gasps when you see the wrong headed choices that the house’s owners made.  Good intentions gone bad – home-renovation style.

Half Remuddled House

Half Remuddled House

This is a photo of a remuddling job and an untouched original all in one.  One owner of this house – actually two attached single family homes – remodeled his half-house some decades ago, stripping away all the original ornamentation and covering the house with aluminum siding.  The other half-house retains its original trim.

It’s rare that you get to see the before and after impact of siding on a vintage house so clearly.  The city would look very different – and much better – if generations of siding salesmen hadn’t made their way through the neighborhoods.

For once, Old House Journal‘s remuddling spread this month shows a change for the better – picturing a stripped, siding clad house and its new incarnation with siding removed and trim restored.  Happily, houses can be brought back.  And the dedicated homeowner’s restoration is a gift to us all.

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Celebrate Historic Preservation Month – Ball Square and Davis Square

May is Historic Preservation Month in Somerville.  Two events are offered this Sunday, May 17, 2009 in two of my favorite neighborhoods – Ball Square and Davis Square in Somerville Massachusetts.

Walking Tour of Ball Square Somerville

Ed Gordon, President of the New England Chapter of the Victorian Society of America, will lead a tour of the Ball Square and Powderhouse area of Somerville this Sunday. On the From Powder House Pickles to Ball Square Brick Yards walking tour  of historic homes and sites you’ll learn about the history of the neighborhood and of Tufts University, see some of the most handsome multi-families built in the area, get to see the inside of a home or two, and finish with light refreshments at the Field House at Nathan Tufts Park.

Cost is $10 ($8 for members of the VSA).

Sunday, May, 17, 2009, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. 

Meet at the Field House at Nathan Tufts Park at the corner of Broadway and College Avenue.

History of the Davis Square Branch Library

Architectural conservator, Sara Chase, will give a talk on Sunday afternoon titled A Jewel In the Crown: The West Branch Library.  The West Branch Library on College Avenue in Davis Square is a Carnegie Library and 100 years old this year.  I love this little library and look forward to learning more about it.

The lecture, tour of the library and light refreshments are free and open to all. 

Sunday, May 17, 2009, 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm. 

50 College Avenue, Davis Square, Somerville MA.

A vintage postcard of the library in Davis Square in 1909, the year it was built, is below. It looks just about the same today. 

Hattie wrote on the back to her friend Gertrude:  “Our new library about ten minutes walk from the house.  Our cards have been transferred and we now take books from here.  It is much smaller than the Somerville library and the collection of books of course is not as good but then the (walking part) is very much better.” 


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Caring for Your Old or Historic House – Arlington MA Lecture

Arlington MA Antique HouseDid you just buy an old house that needs some TLC?  Not sure where to start with projects in your older home and want to do things right? If you’re looking for tips on caring for your antique or vintage home, an upcoming lecture at The Arlington Historical Society is just the ticket.

Sally Zimmerman, Preservation Specialist at Historic New England (formerly SPNEA, the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities) will speak about:

  • Tips on retaining the old house details we love
  • Period appropriate paint colors
  • Resources for old house maintenance, restoration, and enhancement 

Resources from these Arlington organizations will also be available:

  • The Arlington Preservation Fund, Inc.
  • The Arlington Historical Commission
  • The Arlington Historic Districts Commission

When:  Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 7:30 pm
Where:  Arlington Heights Nursery School, 10 Acton Street, rear entrance
Admission: Free!

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Seeking Cambridge Historic Preservation Nominations

Each year the Cambridge Historical Commission recognizes preservation projects completed in the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts during the previous year. If your historic preservation work was completed between January and December 2008 you can find a nomination form and more information at the Historical Commission’s website

2008 Award Winner

2008 Award Winner

Cambridge Preservation Recognition Program

Eligible Project Categories:

  • Restoration
  • Rehabilitation
  • Adaptive use
  • Neighborhood conservation
  • Landscape preservation
  • Archaeology
  • Education/outreach

Criteria for Awards:

  • Historical and architectural significance of the property preserved by the project
  • Exceptional quality of the project
  • Extent to which the project contributed to the preservation of the property
  • Impact of the project on the preservation of the city’s historic resources

Nomination forms must be submitted by noon on February 27, 2009.  The 2009 Preservation Awards will be announced at a ceremony on May 21, 2009 as part of National Preservation Month.

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