When the current owners purchased 530 S. Liberty they knew the porch posts were unusual and probably not original but they had no idea what would be appropriate for their home as shown below.
At the five year point of their ownership the Historicl Society was given old plan books from some prominent architects. In it were original drawings of the home showing incredible posts and balustrades, even one above the porch and on the third floor parade porch. What a pleasant surprise and an absolute godsend!!
The home is in the National Watch Historic District so 75/25 grants are available for things like restoring porches. The owners decided to go for it. They did the main porch in one summer with one grant and then got another the next year to do the balustrade above the porch and the parade porch.
John Crowe of Berkley Crowe Masonry was hired to rebuild the foundation. There is actually a room in the basement under the porch which was often used as a cooling room for food and vegetables. No living space above it makes it very cool in the winter and huge blocks of ice helps in the summer.
Scott Savel of All Around Home Improvements was hired to do the carpentry. He and his associate Rob did an incredible job. I love his motto which states, “It’s not just our livelihood, it’s our neighborhood!”
I was hired to make the rails, goosencks on the rails and the finials. What a pleasure to be able to work on a home of this stature. I had previously made a lot of goosenecks and had perfected a method to inexpensivley make them. A company in Chicago does them by having a huge custom shaper head made and charges $250 each for goosenecks. I do them for $40. I was very lucky to get my method written up in Gary Katz’s on line magazine, This is Carpentry. If you are interested, here is my article showing the method I use for making goosenecks.
A custom knife wa s made to cut the fancy profile on the rails. The exact profile was not known so one that is common in Elgin was used. The goosenecks then were made to match the rails. Scott had to do a lot of handwork to get them to go together nicely. Goosenecks, finials and rails were made from cypress which has great rot resistance. Scott made the newel posts from pvc which should last forever.
I hand turned the finials. The design of the finial was taken from the drawing.
Here are some pictures of the finished details. The porches are a wonderful additon to the streetscape and Elgin. The owners got a wonderful article in the Daily Herald written about them and won an Elgin Mayor’s award for their extraordinary effort.
This is the third floor parade porch(sorta) balustrade
This is the balustrade onthe porch roof
Porch balustrade. The spindles were custom made by Mr. Spindle. A huge thanks goes out to Scott Savel for some of the pictures.
Here is Scott Savel leaning on his post to make sure it is strong. The goosnecks on the stair rail were one of a kind so I had to lay the entire balustrade out full scale on a piece of plywood to make the patterns. Very challenging with the end product being very satisfying.
I was only a small part of the resurrection of this porch but very glad I got the chance to participate.