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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 structures.

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 –

New House...Classic Style
Bathroom Renovations
Kitchen Renovations
Renovations for Resale
Siding Removal and Exterior Restoration


Complete Building and Finishing Services
Montclair • New York City • Southampton • Westchester-Connecticut