A Pair, A Spare, The Devil, & The Details

One of the distinctive characteristics of our old house is its “gingerbread” — defined as “those elaborately detailed embellishments  specifically used by American designers in the late 1860s and ’70s.”   This place, built in 1869, fits that niche perfectly.

Aging gracefully house-wise is much the same as with the rest of us.  Lots of attention to details is required.  Thank goodness, the noticing is not left to me!  I am the master of myopia when it comes to keeping track, paying attention, and finding the experts needed to do what is necessary.  Nyel is the hero in that department!

Years ago, a big chunk of the gingerbread on the wesr side of the house was actually falling to pieces.  Our go-to guy then was Bob Bredfield — his attention to detail and his ingenuity in recreating long-forgotten construction techniques were legendary.  He took down the chunk of gingerbread and copied it perfectly — twice.  That was at Nyel’s request, knowing full-well we’d need that extra piece someday.  Fortunately, someday has not yet arrived.

The latest in the gingerbread maintenance program are the finials that used to top the four supporting posts for the east balcony railing.  Gone!  One by one they have come loose from their moorings and fallen off.  Some time ago, Nyel-the-hero noticed one hiding in a garden bed and rescued it.  It wasn’t until Jay Short painted the east side of the house last summer that we realized there are no finials in situ anymore.

Cousins Cheryl and Virg to the rescue.  When they visited on Valentine weekend, Virg took the finial Nyel had saved.  He had access to a big chunk of cedar from a friend’s logging operation, and their neighbor in Lacey enjoys woodworking.  Not long ago, Cheryl sent me a picture of the results — three beautiful new finials!  Virg plans to prime the new ones and then they’ll send them to us for the final coat and installation!  Yay!

I haven’t yet mentioned to Nyel that I’ve been thinking about the shutters that this house used to have —  before storm windows. I wonder what it would take to replicate them…


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