restoration work on our house progressed over many years. For the inside, we’d committed our wishes to a drawing, prepared by a local architect, in 1990. But we weren’t ready to go to work at the time. In 2014, when we both felt “we’re too old to still be using this 1960s kitchen,” we used those dream-house drawings to set the path for renovations.
Our program: Replace the kitchen and laundry room; add a bump-out for banquette seating; repair the garage foundation; create a bridge between house and garage; do custom woodwork for the built-in seats, table, and trim. This set of renovations took five and a half months. It grew to include a deck, stonework, lighting, and landscaping.
The land the house stands on was part of the William Morris estate. (This Morris was a successful pump manufacturer in our village.) We know that a large lot was purchased in 1885 for $1,000. The first mention of a building came in the 1920s, in a will passing the house to a Morris family member, “including furniture and contents.” We think that the house was an employee residence for Morris’s workers. By that time there was a horse stable in the cellar; open porches were on the first and second storeys at the rear. Sometime around 1935, the rear of the house was enclosed. The cellar was walled up and the porches enclosed to become a first-floor kitchen/pantry.
The Tyler family purchased the property in 1956 for $8,500. In the early 1960s, upstairs walls were stripped of plaster and lath so that insulation and wiring could be installed. Although some plaster remains in the house, 90% of the walls are drywall. This redo also produced the kitchen and laundry that lasted until 2014. Two bedrooms were converted to one large master.
We arrived in 1977, becoming
the latest caretakers for $27,000. We knew we wanted to preserve surviving elements and the style of the early 20th-century house, but we struggled for years with the “how” and the “why.” Local history and architecture seeped into our lives. We learned that Gustav Stickley lived and worked in Syracuse, that Ward Wellington Ward built homes here. We came to see that our American Foursquare has elements of Colonial Revival and, especially, Arts & Crafts design. Although we made our living in industrial sales and school teaching (both of us now retired), we have 40 years’ knowledge about old houses.
Transitional, before 1920 Baldwinsville, N.Y. CONTRACTOR Dimon Construction, Manlius, N.Y. dimonconstruction.com DESIGN Modern Kitchens of Syracuse modernkitchens.com CABINETS ‘Brookhaven’ WoodMode wood-mode.com The kitchen area was entirely redone in a revival of Arts & Crafts style. Backsplash is by the McIntyre Tile Co. The 1960s kitchen was well worn before the renovation (left). bottom Restoration extended to windows, siding, and porch; a connector was built between the house and an existing garage. inset The house in 1991.