Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Look At Someone Else's House 2009 Edition

It's time for my annual appeal to attend Friends of Historic Preservation's 3rd annual Parade of Historic Homes on Sunday May 17th from 1-5 PM.

This year will again feature homes that have been restored using materials from FHP's salvage barn.

Here are a glimpses of the properties:


(1029 Bowery St.) an excellent example of adaptive re-use


(614 Clark St.) a residence that formerly was a church


(416 S. Summit St.) an example of a rental house returned to a family home


(519 S. Summit St.) shows off how an historic house can be updated

But probably most impressive:

(1208 Marcy) Plum Grove Inn, this house is a unique project combining the vision of architect Thomas McInerney with the passion and drive of Shelley Slaubaugh to have an historic Bed & Breakfast.

In the Spring of 2006, Friends of Historic Preservation had salvaged the interior of what was commonly called the “the old castle house” in Belle Plaine, Iowa. This was no ordinary house. Inside the dining room there was solid walnut wainscoting with a triple plate rail, sideboard, china cabinet, butler and pocket doors, as well as a coved press tin ceiling all in one room. Treasures like leaded glass windows, a walnut library, quarter sawn oak stairs, beveled glass doors, a skirted tub, pedestal sink and rooms of walnut and oak baseboards and molding were saved.

As Thomas McInerney recalled, “While going to the city landfill, one usually does not expect to find timeless treasures there. I noticed the Salvage Barn there and was curious if I could find inspiration to define the interior character of the house I was designing. I was not disappointed. Friends of Historic Preservation had recently salvaged a collection of stunning walnut cabinetry and trim from a demolished house in Belle Plaine, Iowa. Shelley is a fan of walnut furnishings and I thought she would enjoy seeing this incredible selection. After calling her, I figured we would chat about it later that night. To my complete surprise that night, she informed me that she agreed to buy the complete Belle Plaine house’s door, cabinetry and wood trim package. I knew she was serious about the Bed & Breakfast now!”

As an architect, Thomas McInerney understands how things are built and was able to envision and adapt the use of the salvaged materials for the interior of the new house he was building. As the house took shape, it was difficult to find contractors who shared this same vision. McInerney commented, “Incorporating this understanding onto construction documents for contractors is very time consuming and required an intimate knowledge of the millwork. It soon became evident that with the amount of millwork we had on hand, a contractor hired to reinstall the trim would greatly exceed our budget and schedule.” Consequently, McInerney and Slaubaugh invested their time and skills to complete the carpentry work on the house. As McInerney noted “With full-time careers grabbing our attention throughout it, we experienced work hours from sun-up to after sundown to the point of exhaustion.” The results are stunning and visitors to Plum Grove Inn may never realize that they have spent the night in a new old house.

I worked to salvage at Belle Plaine, and have seen the results, I was so happy to see such beautiful historic house parts go to such spectacular use!

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