I am going to start a new feature in this forum called “YIKES!” in which post Before & After pictures of the same house and explain how the house’s architectural integrity has been compromised through some totally inappropriate remodeling.
Inspired by .Preservation Magazine, this feature will depict some of the most atrocious rehab jobs ever undertaken in my hometown of Toledo. Commonly known as “remuddling”, this slash and burn method of home remodeling is characterized by the almost total destruction of the historic architectural features of a house through the installation of modern siding, windows, additions, etc. It is a detriment to the house; the neighborhood and good taste everywhere.
It promises to be a depressing yet fascinating journey in which you will shake your head and wonder how could someone do such a thing to his or her house. Sadly, this is just an extreme case of what is going on all across America as aggressive window and siding companies push their mass-produced, cookie-cutter, often inferior-quality products and deceive the homeowner into a false sense of “maintenance free” living and guise of "energy efficiency". Little do they know that in the long term, they are doing untold damage to their property.
The house above was built ca 1890, and is (or was rather) an unusually decorative example of the Queen Anne style built on the Gabled Ell plan. These were among the most prevalent house types of high-density urban plats during 1880s and 1890s – so ubiquitous that entire blocks were almost exclusively built of them. They were available in several different major styles, including Folk Victorian, East Lake, and Queen Anne. Even those with little means could have a stripped down Vernacular versions of these homes built so they too could participate in the enjoyment of living one of America’s most fashionable house types at the end of the 19th Century.
But now, as you can clearly see in the example, virtually all the historic features of this house are now gone. The original windows, including the lovely Queen Anne picture window, have not only been replaced, but also reconfigured. The original siding have been covered up or removed as has all the decorative trimwork. Original porch columns appear to have been removed and a nasty "goiter" has been added on the left side. This is absolutely one of the most blatant examples of architectural genocide I have ever seen.
Old buildings are my life. They are among the most underappreciated and neglected resources that we have in this country. In my line of work, I’m trying to put a stop to this kind of thing but am fighting a losing battle against a glut of home remodeling companies out to make a quick buck and lazy, apathetic homeowners who don’t appreciate the quality and craftsmanship of the house they reside in. I want to make as many people aware of this ugly trend as possible. I will be doing this about once or twice a week as time permits. Your questions, comments and suggestions are welcome.