OLD HOUSE RESTORATION: What's Behind the Siding?
By Martin Schwartz
of Textured Home
Textured Home is updating a bit of
history at 42 Gates Avenue in Montclair. As part of a whole-house
restoration, renovation and expansion, the first task was
to take off ugly, gray siding to see what was hidden underneath.
Behind the siding, we found a charming older home with lovely,
original dark-stained shingles in fairly good shape. Much
of the original detailing was intact.
As it happens, the home is an American Foursquare, a pre-cursor
to the Arts and Crafts movement. Around the turn-of-the-century,
many medium-sized houses were built like this one. Their
boxy shape provided roomy interiors for homes on moderate-sized
city lots. With open land being sold off and large estates
cut-up even further, many of these homes were used as in-fill.
Popularized by pattern books and even Sears Roebuck &
Company mail order kits, the American Foursquare spread
to residential neighborhoods throughout the United States.
However, even when mass-produced, the Foursquare still had
good bones. All used the same plaster and lathe construction
and original, built-in wood detailing put into premier residences
of their day.
The Foursquare is identified by symmetrical, top-floor dormers
and hip-pitched roofs. Typically, there are two-and-a-half
stories, a porch stretching across the entire front, and
at least one central windowed dormer in the attic -- sometimes
four. The four walls of the house are also roughly of equal
dimension, thus creating a square. Traditionally brick,
stone and wood were used as siding with cedar shingles frequently
put up on to roofs. The Foursquare was most commonly painted
in autumn tones. The results: charming, well-proportioned
A Montclair resident, Martin Schwartz is a principal of
TEXTURED HOME --
Restoration Builders & Modernization Contractors.
Their design/build work includes kitchens/ baths & additions,
as well as whole house restorations. They specialize in
sensitive renovations for the older home.
If you have questions about updating while still retaining
the character of your home, call him
at (973) 783-2580 –