Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Regency houses...and sympathetic restoration

This house has intrigued me since I first saw it, on a house-shopping mission with a friend some months ago. Charming, utterly charming at first glance. A rare Regency gem in the historic village of Madoc....or is it? I would love to know this house's history, and see an archival photograph. I suspect it has survived several reincarnations in the quest for space...not all of them sympathetic. The most attractive details, those which first catch the eye, are the Regency style awning-roofed verandah (shortened, I suspect, and not elegantly), the trelliswork (looks authentic to the period, but maybe a bit chunky?) and the 3 superb French windows with panelled dados across the front. The panelled door, also, is lovely with rectangular transom and sidelights. The setting also recalls Regency values - a close to the ground profile, beautifully terraced and treed property. The house has a gable roof instead of the typical hip roof.
Then the puzzling details - there is a gable-front central section, recalling the temple-front styles of classical revival domestic architecture.Was that the compromise to gain the much-needed space not always afforded by the Regency aesthetic? Must go back to my resources to check out temple-front houses - there are still some remnants in Demorestville, Prince Edward County.
Then there's the Victorian barge-boarding and finial. Was the central section just embellished, or is this the period of the addition? Then the second storey doorway with balconette. When did that appear? Did successive owners add on styles that appealed to them, as they renovated?
On our visit to the house we got to see some amazing interior panelling, deep pine baseboards, wide board floors and monumental door surrounds that speak to the Greek revival influence. What a huge job it would be to finish this house, address structural issues, properly winter-proof it, and furnish it in period style. And there are so many add-ons; the house seems to have become ungainly and in need of pruning.
A worthy house? Oh yes. Pray for a wise and wealthy soul to find it. A tempting purchase? Oh yes. A life-time of work and expense? Affirmative. My wise friend and I turned away reluctantly. That wise friend now lives in a perfectly charming maintenance-free back-split.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, how perfectly lovely to read about a house we toured! You've captured its essence so well. If only there were a bottomless pit of money close at hand, I'd consider taking on the challenge of sympathetic restoration.