Just about a year ago, a great boned building sat slowly decaying into the ground. Shear age (built around 1890) and a couple of well-placed leaks had conspired to take this gem close to the edge of oblivion. It had been on and off the market for 2-3 years. After all, it could have been another 6 condos. Just what Hull did not need!
While looking for a house in another part of town, the lonely yellow structure seduced the client for at least a look. And in we went. Mazie, a 92 years young spinster had operated the home at times as a summer boarding house. It had an enclosed wrap-around porch with great fir floors and a chopped up interior.
It featured cascading old wallpaper, plaster blown out of exterior wall leaks, a water-logged basement and peeling paint everywhere. There was no kitchen to speak of and just one bath featuring green marble paneling. The windows were covered by full green awnings. The exterior had 4-5 coats of yellow paint, falling off in strips. You could put your foot through some exterior porch areas. But beneath it all was a beauty. She was begging, not to be a condo or a quick and dirty renovation but to go back to her first life, a great Dame by the sea. So it would go.
Hull is a funky town. I found it comparable to Plum Island next to Newburyport. You have million dollar homes next to summer shacks. The Paragon Beach area is still haunted by grand hotels and it’s current carney existence. There are multi-story apartments next to the century old merry-go-round. A friend told me of his grandfather hitting the bar, while giving him a couple of bucks to ride on it. I hung out with James Montgomery at the C-Note 40 years ago. It is a great potential area in transistion. Just up the block was 227 Atlantic Avenue.
The project was hand -to -hand combat. I found a root that had gone through a double brick wall and outside again (while dragging in a lot of water in as well). The footprint and basic exterior elevation was maintained but at the end of the day only the stairs and a few floors are left. I had done a preliminary plan, which was then was re-drawn by the client, who totally blew the first floor totally open. I had to admit it was great idea. Just a few well placed microlam beams designed by my good friend Mike Maccune from Hingham Lumber and away we went. Floors were jacked up 6-12 inches. What a party. Ken Olsen and Rob Lilly worked long, tough days. This was all during the siege of the winter of 2015(we will do a feature on Rob’s DIY videos soon).
Azek trim and prefinished Hardie plank replaced the old stuff on the outside. The client and I replaced all the windows with SDL ones from Craigslist!
The old hemlock frame had hardly moved but we shored it up as bit and leveled it the best we could. There were times we thought about tearing it down but it had those 9 foot ceilings. We re-planed the exterior fir decking, covered with flaking grey paint, to it’s original spectacular patina.
“Oh, while you’re here” is my favorite client introductory phrase. Sure, add a connector and a two car garage. The only problem was a huge collection of ledge, pretty much piled up, in varying degrees right where the foundation would go. And people don’t blast around here, so 100 sets of holes were drilled 10-12 inches in the ledge for tying in re-bar. My son Colin is still vibrating from the hammer drill but it got done. Rick from Shortall Concrete made it happen.
The client insisted on shingling the garage and the top triangle of the front roof. The brackets were a take-off of a house I saw in Scituate. There was so much paint on the exterior porch, we put it in the dumpster and tied in the upper roof line to it. Some days, I forget where we started and as the project is in the finish stage, I enjoy looking at the departure point. The home has it’s own, new distinct personality, reflective of the new owner- very cool. Sometime soon I will give you shots of the finish but I had to share some of these before and after shots. It was a labor of love but worth the effort. Hull needs more restored beauties.