Monday, April 26, 2010

Fruitful Weekend

It's amazing what can happen in the garden in one day. From Saturday to Sunday, my aubergine irises burst into bloom...
...and my Lily of the Valley also started to open up. Boy, it's amazing how one whiff of this takes me back to a 5-year-old kid at my grandmother's house.
I spent most of the day in garden so I could "bump into" my neighbors and talk to them about my front porch plans. I didn't want to just leave notes in mailboxes, I wanted to talk to everyone in person. I also made up packages for everyone so they can see exactly what I plan to do with the house.

I gave everyone a copy of the street elevation from the blueprints. It's kind of tough to see all details so I also showed them this diagram from a book put out by the Cambridge Historical Commission on taking care of your old Cambridge house.

The book, which is actually really informative, shows in detail what kinds of doors and windows each house style should have, styles of fences, how to build stairs, how the apron around a porch should look...

...and this diagram shows all the components of the top of a Greek Revival pediment.

Here's a photo of my house from that same straight-on view seen in the diagrams. You can almost see what it's supposed to be. It's hard to get this photo because there's almost always someone parked in front.

I also gave everyone a copy of this 1876 drawing of my house so they could see that, indeed, a porch once stood at the front of the house. This was fun for everyone to see because many of their houses are also on the page and no one had seen it before.

But, I'll admit, it's kind of hard to see what it will look like from the diagrams. Everyone responded most to this photograph. This is a house (that I've posted before) in the neighborhood but it's acutally a mirror image of mine and very close in scale. So I flipped the photo with my photo editor so the door is on the same side as mine.

I let everyone walk away with a copy of these images and asked if they like my plan, to please write a letter of support when they get a letter from the City about my hearing. Everyone seemed not only supportive but excited about the plan. My application is done and I should be filing it within the next two days. Having an opponent can make things difficult so it's nice knowing that everyone around me seems so supportive.

Now I can refocus my efforts on finding a contractor.


  1. Hi Steve,

    This is going to be amazing. So much homework! Do you have any idea how long I'll be waiting to see the after pictures?


  2. I love how you approached the neighbors, literally! You should have no problem with your variance-your neighbors will be upset if they don't grant it - their property values will be affected! You just might be able to get it finished this summer!

  3. What a pretty house you have. It will look great with the new front porch. Hope all goes well.

  4. That is a lot of work. I hope you get the permission.

  5. Hi! I'm finally back in the swing of things after a really bad eye infection...
    I'm so impressed with all the homework you have done and how you got your neighbors involved. Perhaps this will encourage them to historically improve their homes and you may end up with a storybook street.
    I am sure with all your support, you will get your variance permission - I can hardly wait to see the porch when it's done. Your house will be so happy!
    and WOW! your garden and flowers are beautiful! I didn't realize you had such a great flower garden going - I lost a lot too over the winter. I have such big empty spots where the roses and lillies used to be - I'm sure they're gone for good. Is your garden just from when you moved in? It looks so mature like it's been there for years.
    Your house really is charming on the outside - just like how I picture a New England Greek Revival to be ~
    Hope you are well - have a great week!

  6. my lily of the valley have come up as well,
    and i'm really so pleased.
    (i was afraid they wouldn't!)
    i'm just awaiting the peonies now...
    hope you're enjoying them.

  7. Hi, I love your house and your blog and I am learning so much that I can apply to my own project. I wondered where I can get a copy of the Cambridge Historical Commission booklet you are talking about. Looked at the site and couldn,t find it listed. Thanks so much, Cate

  8. Cate,
    I"m glad I've done something you can learn from. That makes it all worthwhile.

    Here's a link to the book I was referring to. It's called Maintaining your House in Cambridge or something like that. About the 5th one down on the page.