2233 College Avenue
Project Participants: Stan Tucker and Michael McDermott
By 2015, a little over 100 years since it was built (c. 1913), 2233 College Avenue, like many houses in the Fairmount historic district that were built after the first decade of the 20th century, had a series of owners in its first 10 years. It had been turned into a duplex, possibly early in its life, and was in terrible deteriorating condition, although occupied until sometime in early 2014 as a rental, but lacking proper sewer facilities and safe living conditions.
The house sports a hipped roof with front gable to one side and has a generous porch, gable knee braces and exposed rafter tails. Interior features in the house remain intact including a boxed cross-beamed ceiling, an open and paneled colonnade dividing the living and dining room, and evidence of a full wainscot and plate rail in the dining room, which has now been restored with a plate rail from the same time period as the house was built.
When Michael McDermott and his partner Stan Tucker purchased the house, they knew they wanted to return the house to its original use as a single family home and restore some of its lost features while preserving its original character. After removing 1950s asbestos shingle siding from the exterior of the house, clues revealed a porch that had once wrapped the south side of the house and had been enclosed and incorporated into the interior to add more space. The corner porch has now been fully restored with matching columns and railing. A vintage-inspired yet updated kitchen has been built with custom cabinets appropriate to the style of the house and with vintage hardware. A breakfast room, master suite, and the addition of a back den/guest room utilizing the unusual service and ice delivery porch in the new design has also been added. Although the house was taken down to the studs during this process of converting it back to a single family home, the house still retains its old house feel and many of its original features.
The foundation of the house was still sitting on many of its original bois d’arc tree posts, and 52 new concrete piers with poured footings have been added under the house. Floor and ceiling insulation, on-demand hot water and all new wiring has been added.
Mike and Stan took every detail into consideration when working on this house. Period light fixtures were carefully chosen, original wood doors with antique hardware are also still in place and Mike spent several hours staining trim to match the original stain on the colonnade and stripping several layers of paint off of the original front door. They saved as much original flooring as they could but where they could not they used reclaimed lumber from the same time period. The house now functions efficiently in the modern world but preserves its past and has had its historic charm restored.
It has been wonderful to watch this house being brought back to life while retaining much of its character and with a sensitive restoration and renovations that compliment its style and age. This type of work is becoming more and more rare in the Fairmount district as many houses have been stripped of their stained woodwork, had walls opened up and no longer retain their historic interiors after “updating” often leaves them with a loft-type look that no longer matches the exterior or age of the house.
A new family now lives in this house and it is once again a beautiful addition to the neighborhood and College Avenue. Stan and Mike deserve recognition for their careful attention to detail, preservation and lots of hard work they put into bringing this historic house back to life.