Here is what it looks like, as of this morning.
Temporary cedar posts and a seriously ugly, but code-compliant and safe, railing made from 2x4s and 36" grade stakes.
We rebuilt most of the porch in 2005, because most of the structure of the old porch was deteriorating. The roof itself was solid, as was the floor framing, but everything in between (the beams, roof joists, posts and flooring) was replaced. The columns and post brackets that were there were not appropriate to our Gothic Revival house. We replaced the posts with plain cedar 4x4s, to hold up the porch temporarily until we could decide on a new post, bracket, and railing design. 'Temporary' has lasted for almost six years so far.
I took this photo with my ancient digital camera in 2002, on our first visit to the house with our realtor. The handyman hired to spruce up the property did a good job of using wood filler to hide the rot on the front posts.
Water had infiltrated the ceiling because there was no flashing where the roof met the brick structure. Those 'lovely' brackets were styrofoam.
This is my favorite photo that I have taken of our house. It is the view I saw one day in the sideview mirror of my Jeep. I took this photo right before we started to rebuild the porch.
Notice how the porch posts are a little bit bow-legged from rot.
This morning, to celebrate the Inspiration Party at Modern Country Style, let's see what kind of ideas I have to finally finish our porch.
This is the oldest photo we have of our house. We figure that it was taken sometime around 1940. Notice how our house still wears its Gothic barge boards on the gables and the dormer (the dormer and the trim were removed in 1967.) These are not the original porch posts or railing. The ladder on the right was being used by painters (I have another photo of painters working on the front door), and I am guessing that the porch was new at this point.
In order to design new ornamentation for our porch, I am trying to look to similar houses in the area for inspiration. The only other Gothic Revival house in our area is Idlewild, which was built about 12 miles from here in the 1860s. It sat abandoned and deteriorating on a large tract of land slated for development.
Photo from the Free Lance-Star newspaper in the 1990s.
Most of its ornamentation was still intact when I took these photos in 2002.
(Pretend you don't see that No Trespassing sign.)
Look at the level of detail in this porch!
I love the design of the balusters.
While The Husband and I were there photographing, we found a heap of ornaments that had been gathered into a pile.
I can't believe this stuff hadn't been stolen!
I came on this mission fully prepared with a Sharpie marker and some poster board. We picked through this pile to find balusters and brackets in good condition, and we traced templates.
It's a good thing that we made this visit to Idlewild when we did, because this is what it looked like early one morning a few months later.
Photo taken by a firefighter and published in the Free Lance-Star.
I got a phone call from a friend of mine, telling me that Idlewild was on fire. I immediately felt nauseous. It was arson, and no one has yet been charged with the crime.
Photo published in the Free Lance-Star.
This beautiful building was now a charred shell. Engineers determined that the walls were sound, and that the building was restorable. Idlewild is owned by the City of Fredericksburg, who paid to remove the debris from the inside, sifting it to make sure that nothing important was lost, and to reinforce the remaining structure to keep it from further deterioration now that the roof and most of the floors are gone.
Photo from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
Some of the beautiful porch ormaments are still in place, and can be used by a future owner to replicate what is lost.
Through the tireless efforts of volunteer researchers, and the cooperation of the planning department of the City of Fredericksburg, Idlewild was recently listed on the Virginia Landmarks Registry and the National Register of Historic Places. The city's goal is to sell the property to someone who will restore it. Our current economic climate makes this very difficult.
My dream for Idlewild is that it will one day rise from the ashes, and once again be the beautiful, graceful manor house that it was in the past.
For our porch, I plan to use my tracings and photographs of Idlewild as inspiration to create a graceful Gothic porch to crown the facade of our old house.