In the late 70’s this house was a run down two unit with terrible asphalt siding.
A young couple bought it because it was was all they could afford. It was in a bad neighborhood with some serious drug dealing going on. A friend bought the house next door and he bailed out of the neighborhood after a year or so because it was so bad. We called the young couple urban pioneers because they came to a rough neighborhood and house with the determination to improve both. We just hoped these pioneers didn’t get burned by the Indians.
They tackled the house without any previous experience but with simple common sense they did everything right. They made the home single-family before it was popular to do so. Today $25,000 grants are given by the city to downsize properties. They took off the substitute siding before it was popular to do so. Several years later the Gifford Park Association started a substitute siding removal program they called the Great Unveiling, borrowed from Rock Island. They gave the homeowner a $1000 reward to take the siding off. Using volunteers in an old-fashioned barn raising type of event they take off the siding. Later the city took up the grants giving a $5000 reward to anyone taking their siding off. Because of budget constraints the city no longer gives the reward but the Gifford Park Association has gone back to giving $1000.
View Great Unveilings done by the Gifford Park Association.
Over several years the couple rebuilt the porch and with some help from a professional had it nicely painted.
They fell in love with a bigger and better project house and moved. They never got to finishing the porch apron, the newels at the bottom of the steps and the apron on the the side of the steps. The store-bought lattice was added for the apron as a temporary fix. As so many temporary things go it was there for years. A subsequent owner added to the store-bought newels that are too slight and not appropriate for the house.
I was hired by a subsequent owner to build appropriate newels, and a porch apron to match the old picture. Here is an old picture showing the original apron and a little girl that is probably 80 years old today. The owner wanted an apron with triangular cutouts instead of half circles. Both were done in that era.
I made newels to match the porch post bases. They look much better than the store bought ones they replaced as seen above.
I made a new apron as seen below. The horizontal boards are PVC so they bent nicely with a just a little kerfing. They also will not rot. They are a little expensive but well worth it.
I put an apron on the side of the steps using bead board and replaced the 2 x 12 treads with 5/4 x 12 which was the norm in that era. I also put a little cove molding under the steps which was always done. Click here for my guidelines on how to make the treads and cove molding.
I was very fortunate to have this project as the owners gave me an absolute freehand on what to do and were willing to spend whatever it took. They knew me and trusted me and knew I would not rip them off.
I can see the porch from our house so it was a very nice improvement to my neighborhood.