Category: Resources

Baltimore’s Old House Stories: Missing Baseboards and a Bolton Hill Brownstone

Thanks to Margaret De Arcangelis, Education & Outreach Director with Preservation Maryland for sharing the story of her historic Bolton Hill rowhouse and the adventure of starting an exciting restoration project.

Margaret's Old House

I came across a tweet the other day and could not help but smile: “It’s funny what makes you happy as a home owner.  I have baseboards.  Yeah!!! J”

As someone who has always enjoyed visiting old houses and loves learning about architecture, I always thought baseboards were great. It was not until this summer, however, when my husband and I bought our first house, that I truly appreciated the value of a well-placed baseboard. This appreciation is largely due to the fact that some of our baseboards, plaster, banisters and light fixtures are missing and I can only dream of the day when they will all be back in place.

Christopher and I did not buy a move-in ready starter house like many people do.  Instead Chris has lovingly followed me into what may be my most hare-brained (but wonderful!) idea yet.  We bought a true fixer-upper – an 1886 brownstone in Bolton Hill that needs more repair work than I have  space to list in this short post.  Like so many of the houses in that neighborhood, a prior owner subdivided the house into apartments leaving vestiges of long abandoned kitchens and bathrooms on each floor. Numerous walls were damaged when temporary walls were built and later torn down. Unlike many others rowhouses in Bolton Hill, however, our house remained in the hands of just one family from the 1880s to the 1950s (thank you MD Land Records for providing that fun fact!) and much of the original detail remains intact down to the stylish patterned parquet floors. Much of wood work including our 45 wood windows is covered by only one or two coats of paint and, despite a few missing pieces, the original stained glass transoms are in place and can be repaired.

After searching for the right house for ten months, I knew this was the perfect house for us the first time I saw it. There are so many beautiful details throughout the house that would be impossible or at least cost prohibitive for us to have in any other house. Some days the house does present challenges. The first few times it rained we found a new leak each time. We discovered that the duct tape on one of the sewer lines in the basement was not covering up a small crack in the pipe, but instead was put there to cover the ten inch by two-inch gouge in the pipe. We learned that sometimes the scope of a project changes midway through due to unforeseen circumstances, which may mean you need to remove a 100-year-old piece of Lincrusta from the wall so the plumbers can run new water lines. No matter what the new issue is with our house, all of those feelings of frustration go away each time I go to unlock the front door and am reminded how lucky I am to own such a beautiful old house.

We’re looking for more “old house stories” along with resources, tips and tricks you can share with other old house owners in Baltimore. Join the conversation on Facebook with Baltimore’s New Old House Forum or get in touch with Eli Pousson at pousson@baltimoreheritage.org

Resource: Illustrated Guidelines on Sustainability for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings

Sustainability is a critical issue in architecture, design and planning and while we believe “the greenest building is built” we support the many home-owners and property owners who are seeking new ways to improve the efficiency and sustainability of their historic homes, apartment buildings, factories, and Main Street properties.

Thanks to the Technical Preservation Services with the National Park Service we now have an accessible and easy-to-use guide that can help historic property owners make important decisions about everything from weatherization to wind-power. The Illustrated Guidelines on Sustainability for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings offer practical guidelines with dos and don’ts on how to retrofit your home or business for sustainability. Projects that can follow these guidelines may also be eligible for state or federal historic tax credits.

Site Features—Sustainability Guidelines—Technical Preservation Services, National Park Service

You can find the Illustrated Guidelines on Sustainability for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings online or download a PDF copy of the 2011 printed version of the guidelines. If you are interested in learning more about combining historic preservation and weatherization, please join us later this month for our latest introductory workshop with Retrofit Baltimore on May 29.

Weatherization, Retrofit Baltimore

Historic tax credits and weatherization workshop in Roland Park on May 29

 Join us for another free introductory workshop with Retrofit Baltimore on combining weatherization and historic tax credits for your next home rehabilitation project.

Introduction to Weatherization and Historic Tax Credits

Does your old house feel a bit too hot in the spring and summer? You may want to consider weatherizing your home to improve its comfort and efficiency while saving money with historic tax credits at the same time. Join Baltimore Heritage and Retrofit Baltimore for a free one-hour workshop where you will learn more retrofitting your historic home for energy efficiency.

We’ll also tell you how to use city and state historic tax credits for weatherization or other home rehabilitation projects. If you are a home-owner in Roland Park, Homeland, Ednor Gardens, Original Northwood, or another of the over 70 historic districts across the city, historic tax credits can help you with the cost of essential home maitenance and rehab projects from re-painting to re-pointing – even furnance replacement or roof repairs. Take a look at our resource page on historic tax credits for more background then register and come to our workshop on May 29, 6:30pm to 7:30pm.

Weatherization, Retrofit Baltimore

Introduction to weatherization and historic tax credits on May 14

Want to keep your old house cool and comfortable this summer? Learn more about weatherization and the great financial incentives for retrofitting your home from  Retrofit Baltimore. We’ll also share how you can save money on weatherization and other home rehabilitation projects with historic tax credits! Join Baltimore Heritage and Retrofit Baltimore for a free one-hour workshop for more information or find more details about historic tax credits programs here.

Weatherization & Historic Tax Credits Workshop

Tuesday, May 14, 6:30pm to 7:30pm
Govans Branch Library, 5714 Bellona Ave Baltimore, MD 21212
RSVP today!

Free on-street parking available. For more information contact, Ben Wallen at bwallen@retrofitbaltimore.org or Eli Pousson at pousson@baltimoreheritage.org

Weatherization, Retrofit Baltimore

Weatherization & Historic Tax Credit Workshops in March and April

Planning any rehab or maintenance projects for your house this spring? Don’t miss the chance to save money with historic tax credits while taking advantage of financial incentives for weatherization retrofits. Join Baltimore Heritage and Retrofit Baltimore for a free one-hour workshop to learn how to save money retrofitting your historic home for energy efficiency. Learn more about historic tax credits with our comprehensive guide.

If you are a home-owner in a historic district like Roland Park, Homeland, Ednor Gardens or Original Northwood, you may be eligible for city and state historic tax credits for weatherization and projects from re-painting to re-pointing.

Weatherization & Historic Tax Credits Workshop on March 14

Thursday, March 14, 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Neighborhood Design Center, 1401 Hollins Street, Baltimore, MD 21223
RSVP today!
Free on-street parking is available in the area and the Neighborhood Design Center is only a few blocks from the Charm City Circulator Orange Route stop 211 at Hollins Market. For more information contact, Whitney Graham at wgraham@retrofitbaltimore.org.

Weatherization & Historic Tax Credits Workshop on March 21

Thursday, March 21, 6:30pm to 7:30pm
Govans Branch Library, 5714 Bellona Ave Baltimore, MD 21212
RSVP today!
Free on-street parking available. For more information contact, Ben Legow at blegow@retrofitbaltimore.org.

Weatherization & Historic Tax Credits Workshop on April 22

Monday, April 22, 6:30pm to 7:30pm
Roland Park Library, 5108 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21210
RSVP today!
Free on-street parking available. For more information contact, Molly Rice at mrice@retrofitbaltimore.org.