Earlier this week I did a little digging into the history of 307 13th Street, a lovely frame house in the South Slope. Richard, the owner, was kind enough give me some insight into his restoration process, which I’ve shared below. I especially love his last point, which taps into why I strongly believe that working with a home’s unique and special qualities benefits the entire neighborhood.
If you own a frame house in Brooklyn and want to share your experience, let me know!
When did you buy the house, and what made you decide to purchase a frame house in the South Slope?
We bought the house in December of 2005, did a little work and moved in January of 2006. I don’t think we were looking specifically for a frame house, but this house had a good feeling about it. We could see great potential. As to the South Slope, we were drawn in by the heterogeneous nature of the blocks. Rather than long rows of brick or brownstone houses there is variety, both in the building types and in the setbacks from the street which makes the street edge much richer.
I met Richard, who is an architect, when I was conspicuously standing on the street pointing my camera lens at his front door. That I chose to gawk at his house is not surprising; it’s one of those lovely, set-back frame houses with a wide porch and a sprawling front garden. Uniquely for Park Slope, it’s also, for the most-part, freestanding (according to Richard, a small rear addition is the only part of the house that abuts its neighbor). Richard and his wife purchased and restored the house about five years ago.
Because I work for a historic preservation advocacy organization, I am in constant contact with architects performing work on historic properties. Where this is concerned, my experience has taught me that most architects fall into one of two distinct camps: those who see a building’s history as a burden to overcome, and those who see it as the building’s greatest asset. If Richard’s own house is any indication, I’m pleased to say that he falls into the latter category. Having clearly done his research (his c. 1940 tax photo – shown right – was hanging in his living room), I could tell that he and his wife are incredibly loving stewards of this very special home.