Charleston Restorations

Closing in on Rutledge Renovation: Before and After photos

Its a classic "before and after" post, folks.  So glad to see this old Hampton Park girl in out neighborhood putting herself back together so nicely.  Excellent work by our friends at Yarrum with redeveloping this residence n a way that makes sense for this historic building while suiting 2013 tastes. We're closing in on completion of this renovation. Though not finished, you can see how far 638 Rutledge has come so far. 628 Rutledge rear elevation, before

638 Rutledge rear elevation, renovation in progress. The rear addition has reverted to what we believe its original was: a porch.

Original living room, with dining room beyond door

The original fireplace, restored and modified to be functional, serves as divider of living room from dining room (and kitchen), beyond.

638 Rutledge: the original stair hall was chopped to accommodate a separate entry to the second level.

638 Rutledge, original stair and hall restored, with some additional storage beneath.

638 Rutledge: we found the rear addition with the floor level dropped 3" from the first floor level: a clue that it was originally a porch, later enclosed.

Rear addition reconverted to a porch, now screened, with original collar ties exposed.

638 Rutledge: larger of two front bedrooms at second level.

Larger of two front bedrooms, after

Second floor room, used as rear entry to second level apartment.

Master closet, which will be furnished for clothes storage along wall to right.

Kitchen, before

Side view of new kitchen, with easily accessible office nook to the left. Yarrum did a great job with the custom built cabinetry for the kitchen.

Existing front porch, with concrete slab that sloped slightly toward the house.

It was necessary to completely rebuild both levels of porches from the foundation up to the roof structure and tern metal roofing, which was refurbished.

I came up short with some of the "before" photos.  Below are a few additional images of the current condition of 638 Rutledge, which is nearing completion.

Restored original window, with original weight and chain mechanisms restored and new bronze weatherstripping installed for draft-stopping.

The original clawfoot tub had been restored, with the enamel made to look original without looking new. This will be installed in the guest bath at the second level.

Master shower, with new tile wrapping original kitchen chimney, now forming the side to a new bench seat.

Eastside Gem Needs A Thorough Polish

Setting a new standard for existing conditions: View up through second floor joists.

It looks like we may be working on the restoration of this unique duplex residence in Charleston's Eastside neighborhood.  Just two doors down from the late Phillip Simmons' ironwork shop, this residence was built with two units side by side, each with two levels.  This wood framed structure has a parapet wall surrounding a low sloped roof which drains to the rear.  I'm unaware of any other examples of this typology in Charleston, particular from its build date of approximately 1900.  It is always fun to work on something truly unusual.

With siding missing and plaster gone, backlit wood lathe remains.Front elevation; this will be a handsome devil.

Hampton Park-Area Renovation Proceeds

638 Rutledge Avenue, with newly reconstructed porches completed. Construction on the renovation of 638 Rutledge by Yarrum LLC is proceeding well.  I walked over last night to take some photos of the front elevation in a rare break from the rain.  We've come a long way so far from the condition in which the property was found.  The front porches were completely rebuilt out of necessity, while the standing seam terne metal roof was supporting structure was restored and repainted.  The restored original windows are looking great as well.

638 Rutledge before renovation began.

Second floor, front bedroom at 638 Rutledge.

New bluestone flush hearths installed at renovated first floor fireplace

19th Century Ansonborough Dependency

Much of the masonry will require re-pointing. The lack of mortar within the inside face of the east gable makes this abundantly evident. We have completed the building analysis phase of our commission at 63 Anson Street, in the heart of Charleston's Ansonborough neighborhood.  63 Anson, along with its sister structure at 65 Anson Street, were constructed around 1839 by Mrs. Susan Robinson as dependencies to 48 Society St..

East wall, second level; we will attempt to salvage as much of this plaster as we can given structural recommendations for handling the masonry behind it.

Most of the interior finishes of this simple masonry structure were far too degraded to be salvageable.  Termite and moisture damage made saving even the mantles impossible.  Most of the original wood structure was in salvageable condition, however, with the notable exception of the joists below the east room of the first level. These were sitting directly on dirt in large part and almost completely consumed by termites.

West room, second level; some floor rot from the bathroom occupying this space was evident. However, the joists below are largely intact.

We found the fine bellcast copper roof to be in excellent condition. One might expect copper to remain in good condition, particularly since this appears to have been installed within the last 30 years. However, with the widespread damage to this structure, you can not be sure. While there was some rafter damage, most of this material was found to be intact and in good condition.  This solid substrate below the copper supported it properly, allowing it to remain intact. The copper was done beautifully, with hand-crimped seams of 3/4" ht at 17" on center.

Edge detail of bellcast copper roof at 63 Anson Street, Charleston SC

Typical rafter structure at 63 Anson Street: 3x4 rafters with pegged morticed joints at ridge, and no ridge rafter. Plywood was applied above the original roof deck slats as a substrate for the more recently installed copper roof.

The chimney serving the cooking fireplace in the rear steps over to the center of the ridge before emerging from the roof line.

East gable from below; appropriate mortar will be needed to stabilize it.

The rear of the residence has been consumed by climbing fig. Photo: Harrison Wallace

63 Anson Street; its sister house 65 Anson appears at right. Photo: Harrison Wallace

Old Hampton Park Broad Exposed

The rafters and second level ceiling joists at 638 Rutledge were found to be nice shape. Framing work has resumed on 638 Rutledge Avenue, and I stopped in today to have a look around. It was good to see the progress being made with the stabilization and improvement of this old girl.

Ground zero of the termite attack was in the area adjacent to the principal chimney; a gaping hole provided the water and the means for termite proliferation.

The project was initiated a few months ago.  The interior finishes, most of which were in very poor condition were removed from the entire structure. It was clear that there was significant structural damage originating from the hole in the roof where the chimney flashing failed.  We didn't know widespread it was until the plaster was removed.

The termite damage revealed was pretty extensive.  A dozen floor joists in the vicinity of the principal chimney were damaged to the point where they needed replacement.  Many of the wall studs in the area and wrapping quite a ways around the structure were damaged as well.  In these cases, the salvageable remnants of the original members were retained and sistered to new members.

The most unusual situation was the top plate at the top of each wall level, which was almost completely destroyed.  It seems evident that the plates were milled from a material that was less resistant to the termites than the better grade of pine that composed the majority of the framing.  They were used as termite highways to zip around the building.

In several areas, only the top plates were consumed by the termites. The joist and stud material resisted infestation more effectively.

638 Rutledge was built as a single family residence around 1900, a time predating the development of the Hampton Park Terrace neighborhood just to the west.  It appears on later aerial photograph of Hampton Park and The Citadel from 1938.  In this photo, which is looking west over Hampton Park toward the Citadel, Rutledge Avenue forms the eastern edge of the baseball fields, running left to right in the photo.  638 appears as the last residence shown in full to the extreme left on Rutledge Avenue (view of the rear).  The rear additional is already evident in the image.

Aerial Photo of Hampton Park and the Citadel, c. 1934. Hampton park Terrace is the neighborhood to the south (left) of the park.

Original stair, formerly bound within walls added when it was converted to a duplex, will be open stair again.

At some point, 638 Rutledge was converted into a duplex with the addition of a second entry door and interior partitions which segregated the stair from the first floor spaces. There was a kitchen and a single bath at each level. This renovation will restore 638 to a single family residence.  The partitioning has been removed and the stair, originally open to the first level foyer, will be restored.

The kitchen at the second level has been removed, slated for replacement with a new master bath. The original second level bath has been completely redesigned and will serve the other two second level bedrooms. These two bedrooms will have access to the full second level porch fronting on Rutledge Avenue.

The principal first floor living spaces, with fireplaces at right.

From a space planning perspective, we took our cues from the historic layouts and existing structural organization while creating a space made for 21st century living.  The principal first floor living spaces, including living, dining and kitchen spaces, will be continuous and open to each other. These would have been the original dining room and parlor separated by an opening fitted with pocket doors and the corner fireplaces addressing each space.

View from the Entry Foyer through a newly widened cased opening to the Living Room and Dining Room beyond.

The pocket doors were removed at some point in the past, and the termites did their best to remove the rest. We felt that it made little sense to reconstruct this non-loading bearing wall which served only to divide the living room from the dining room and kitchen. Today, visual connection between these spaces is generally preferred. So, this wall was eliminated, though the Living Room and Dining Room spaces are given definition by the massive brick chimney and corner fireplaces, which will be retained and exposed.

The fireplaces were constructed with beautifully laid brick which remains in good shape. There is also a great corner detail in the brick--something of a quirk miter--which be serves as a nice feature of this massive anchor to the living spaces.

Other changes to the first level include reconfiguring the bathroom to eliminate a tub which was shoehorned oddly lengthwise beneath the stair while creating a more generous shower.

This rear addition will be transformed in to a screened porch, with the original rafter, sheathing, and joist structure exposed.

More significantly, a rear addition which appears to have been made relatively early in the house's life will be transformed into a screened porch. The floor of this addition drops about three inches from the adjoining original floor, so it may have been a porch at one time and hence would be returned to something approximating its original use. The original rafters and the slatted roof deck that they support will be retained, as well as the original ceiling joists.  This sheltering structure will be left exposed to provide volume and visual interest to what we believe will be a much-enjoyed space.

View up into second floor hall from mid-stair.

At the second level, the original spaces are being left largely intact.  The two main second level rooms will serve as bedrooms unadulterated by permanent closets intruding into the volume. Each will retain its original corner fireplace. We are still considering options for finishing these fireplaces and hope to come to the right solution shortly. The master will have use of a large wardrobe space, formerly a nursery contained within an enclosed porch, and a master bath with twin vanities, relocated clawfoot tub, and shower which will wrap an original, minor corner chimney.

The third significant second room will serve as a minor bedroom with a closet added, and the hall will be retained in its original shape.

Once sheathing for an exterior wall, then made interior by previous porch infill addition.

625 Rutledge Under Contract

625 Rutledge Avenue went under contract on New Year's Eve Congratulations to our friends and clients at Yarrum 1 LLC, as well as Marshall, for securing a contract on the sale of 625 Rutledge Avenue in Charleston's Hampton Park Terrace.  The property went under contract with an offer received on New Year's Eve.  This is good news among a lot of other positive sales momentum in the local market. Here's hoping that 2013 bring another year of steady positive growth.

New colors for Hampton Park Terrace renovation

625 Rutledge Avenue On the way to the studio this morning, I stopped by 625 Rutledge to take a few photos in the morning light.  The colors were modified some time ago by the owners, and I really like the resulting palette.  This classic Charleston residence near Hampton Park is available.  Check out the listing from Marshall here.

View of south elevation at 625 Rutledge Avenue

The original pine decking was stripped and sanded, refinished with a finish that exposes the material.


625 Rutledge Avenue



Happy Birthday to Me

Our humble home; she received new exterior paint for her 100th birthday. Three days ago we threw our house a birthday party.  12.12.2012, it was 100 years to the day since the permit notification to build our house (and the three adjacent sister houses) appeared in the Charleston Evening Post.  Kevin Eberle--attorney, author, law school professor, Hampton Park Terrace neighbor, and preservationist gadfly--came upon the notice from Dec. 12th, 1912 over the summer and sent an image of it to us.  He asked to be invited to the birthday party.

Birth announcement for our house from 1912

I'd like to think that on the previous 12.12.12, there was considerably less chatter and mystical importance ascribed to the date.  But, you never know.  We thought it was a great excuse to give the old girl a new paint job and dust her off for a party celebrating 100 years since she was born--or, as the Italians would say, since she was "realized."

We were happy to have so many friends attend. Michelle said that every Hampton Park Terrace Neighbor that was invited attended--save Kevin Eberle himself, who was stuck in Columbia giving what he described as a wretchedly boring legal seminar.

Every once in while, it helps to throw a party to make you take a critical look at the detritus from life that has takes up residence in the corners, shelves, and kitchen counter.  It feels so good to edit that stuff and clear it out.

As an architect who has done more new home design than restoration, and who knows how well a house can be built with contemporary materials and technologies, we dream of building a new house someday.  ICF, spray foam insulation, German windows, copper roof, the whole thing.  But, I think it is more about opening a tiny electric bill every month and walking around the house with a tee shirt and shorts in the wintertime. For now, we have our old, quirky, drafty girl, and I have my fleece pajamas, long hooded boxer robe, and slippers.

Happy birthday, 386. You're still looking good to us.

Ready to get Ready in North Central

We have been working on designs for two structures on a corner lot in Charleston's North Central neighborhood.

The original house standing at the corner at 94 Sans Souci is getting a relatively thorough renovation, particularly on the interior.  We shuffled some of the spaces, opened up walls, and added a bath to take it from a 2 bedroom/1 bath residence to a 3 bedroom/2 bath.

The former garage house structure standing at the rear of the lot (at 83 Magnolia) was demolished this week in preparation for a new residence that we are designing to replace it.  We're nearly finished and will be issuing CD's in the coming weeks.  We're very excited about how this one has come along and eager to see it come vertical when our client is ready.