Stately Mansion

A lovely and stately mansion on a steep hill overlooking downtown Pullman and the WSU campus had seen its glory yeas and then a long slide into disrepair and neglect. It had been partitioned into separate apartments with plumbing and electrical systems scabbed together; in its later years it was a home for abused women. When the present owners arrived it had goats living on the main floor, cats had made a litter box of the whole house, the roof sagged and leaked, floors were an unrecoverable mess, windows were painted shut, and the whole house was covered in two layers of “modern” siding; all the protruding architectural features had been chain-sawed off to make a smooth surface for the last layer of sheet metal. Clearly, this house was at a turning point.

 

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The Finished Product: We were called to repair the leaking roof on the magnificent (but decrepit) wrap-around porch. In the process of stripping it down to get to the framing, we discovered the original small-lap fir siding. This stuff is gorgeous, and practically unavailable today: old-growth, straight grained, and flawless.

This is our lone picture of the original porch restoration. If we had known the eventual extent of this project, we would have documented it better!

Our original assignment was to repair the leak in the porch ceiling, the result of an upstairs porch failing. We rebuilt the upstairs porch and the roof and drainage system, and tore out the damaged ceiling in the process. By this time, the owner had resolved to restore the house, and we were off and running!

The finished porch and its complex roofline. Fir beadboard ceiling and short wall. Lots of detail here!

The completed porch with new bead board ceiling, restored/replaced columns, new rafter tails, new fascia and low wall, every surface entirely rebuilt and shining.

The northwest corner gets its facelift. Insulated, window and roof features restored, siding and fascia rebuilt, the restoration makes its way around the house.

The sagging roof was straightened and braced, stripped down to the skip sheathing then re-sheathed, waterproofed and shingled. The chimney was disassembled down to sound masonry and rebuilt, and the attic was thoroughly insulated after everything was done up there.

A Renaissance man works on the roof. Roped in and ‘way up there, we spent a couple of weeks in the thin air.

The family watches as our excavator friend tears off an added-on “bomb shelter” kitchen/storeroom, making way for a new kitchen addition.

The extensive interior woodwork gets restored. We installed new French doors here, to insulate the elegant parlor from the bustle of a large family. The entire floor was ripped up and replaced with Merbu, a hard and beautiful hardwood.

Back at the shop, Tom dresses out a new stile on the beautiful front door. Made from a gorgeous old wine vat stave, the wood smelled intoxicating until we sealed it behind a modern finish.

The newly rebuilt front door makes its way back home.

Nice entrance!

The new kitchen addition takes shape. Octagonal to mirror the wrap-around porch on the other corner of the house, these windows open onto a great cityscape: the eventual backyard gardens, downtown Pullman, and the WSU skyline in the distance.

The cherry cabinetry sports beaded openings for the inset, beadboard doors.

The countertop on the octagonal side is white marble: a brave choice because it stains easily, but the family uses it hard and it still looks great years later.

This detail is from our thank-you gift to the family, a cherry hutch for an empty corner of the kitchen. We still consider them family, even these years later.