Thursday, February 4, 2010

Visit to the Historical Commission

Having never taken on a project like this before, I'm clueless where to begin. My real estate agent who also has an antique house in the neighborhood suggested I call the city's Inspectional Services Department, who issues building permits, and talk to them about what I need to do to restore the porch.

Short Story: They want plans, particularly where it comes to ensuring the porch meets safety and zoning requirements, weight tolerances, etc. So it's apparent I'm going to need the help of an architect. Because my porch and stairs will come within 7 feet of the property line, the porch will be nonconforming. So I'll be turned down for a building permit and I'll need to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals. It's just how it works. I really need to prove the porch existed at one time as an historical restoration will be viewed differently than a new porch addition.

So off to the Historical Commission I went and here's the exciting discovery I made: They have notebooks filled with drawings of every house in the city from 1876 showing who owned the property and the measurements of each house. Here's a few of my neighbors homes.

And here's my house! It was owned by the Watson agents, or heirs to the estate of William Watson who owned a great deal of the land in my neighborhood. And there's what I was looking for: a porch standing proudly at the front of the house! This gives me exactly what I need to get the ball rolling. What an exciting find!

It's also interesting to note that the ell off the back of the house is 37 feet long. This is where my kitchen and bathroom are and they're only about 18-19 feet total. So there was some other structure there. I would guess it was a wood shed/barn where the owner stored their wood and parked their horse. I would love to see what that looked like. And notice the outhouse at the very back of the property. What a different life!


  1. I love that you're so dedicated to the history of your home and neighborhood. It's a lot of work to renovate and maintain an older home but if it was built after 1945I wouldn't want it! When do we get to see the inside???

  2. I do love searching out the history of the house and neighborhood. I'll do some posts in the future on how to do some of that research. The inside is coming soon!