In Perfect Pitch
A PASSION THAT STARTED WITH “TRASH NIGHT” IN BROOKLYN FOUND FULL EXPRESSION IN THE RESTORATION OF THIS 1911 HOUSE IN OREGON.
A passion that started with the hunt for discarded curb-side treasures culminated in the restoration of this 1911 Arts & Crafts house in Oregon.
Many years ago, Nancy Conescu lived in a Brooklyn neighborhood where she and friends scoured the curb on trash night, looking for funky furniture and other discards. While she was at a gig (Nancy is a guitarist and singer of traditional Irish music), “my friends crawled into the basement of a condemned building and rescued a beautiful little mahogany desk with carved tobacco-leaf panels.” They gave the desk to Nancy. The very next day, the condemned building was demolished, along with everything in it.
“I learned years later that the Arts & Crafts desk was a limited-edition L. & J.G. Stickley piece that the company gave to their best customers.”
The daughter of New York architect and contractor the late Herbert Cohn, Nancy knew from the moment she stepped into the Ferdinand E. Reed house in Portland that it needed serious
renovation and restoration. She told her husband, Mike Doolin—a guitar maker, musician, and recording engineer—that she would be the contractor in charge.
Nancy’s friend Martin Munske, who owns the Portland-based renovation company Das Haus, shared her interest in restoration and thus became job foreman and chief advisor. First off, they hired electrician Todd Eccles to replace the old knob-and-tube wiring, and plumber Mladin Arapovic to bring the house up to code. Systems upgrades alone took nine months of work.
Next came the exterior. During the 1980s, the original shiplap wood siding had been covered with aluminum. When Munske pulled off a section of the later siding, he and Nancy were shocked by the ruined condition of the wood beneath. For the next 21 months, Munske and crew tore off the aluminum and rebuilt the exterior (insulating walls, replacing damaged stucco, rebuilding the crumbling chimney), then installed new shiplap. They also rebuilt the porch façade and added brick piers under the columns. Nancy designed a new railing with built-in seating.
“The roof was sagging on each side of the house,” Nancy adds, “so I designed support beams and corbel brackets to hold up the roof.” The roof of the 1920s carport was not tied into the original roof on the house; new fascia boards now create a uniform roofline.
Nancy and Mike finally moved into the house at the end of 2012 and went to work on interior improvements. They