One of our favorite recent projects was the addition of a small portico onto the front of a ca.1950 house in Baton Rouge’s Drehr Place Historic District. The homeowners, Simone and Michelle, had hired us to rebuild the linen closet and replace several hollow-core doors with panel doors appropriate to the house. As we finished those tasks, Michelle asked us what could be done about their front door. Until several years ago it had been protected by a canvas awning, but that disappeared during a storm. Since then it had suffered from exposure and delayed maintenance. “The poor thing,” Michelle said when Jeff stuck a screwdriver through the rotten bottom rail that was only held together by paint and a brass kickplate, “can you make another awning that won’t fly off?”
We consulted with an architect who suggested something a little grander than the old canvas awning. Michelle loved the look, so we got started. Despite us making a couple of bureaucratic missteps, the Baton Rouge Historic District Preservation Committee approved our plan.
We felt it was important to match the proportions and style of the house as well as possible, so we derived the dimensions of the portico’s roof from the dormers. The dimensions and details of the columns match the original pilasters. Most of the home’s original exterior molding is hidden behind aluminum siding, so we trusted Jackson’s trim carpenter instincts for the crown details.
Constructed entirely of select-grade treated lumber that we primed on all sides and fastened to the concrete stoop with stainless threaded rod, the new portico should protect the new and properly painted front door for a long time.
Jeff often claims that we can’t be truly satisfied with our work until we’ve seen it handsome and serviceable twenty years later. But this project had another gauge of success: many neighbors (some of whom were vocally skeptical when we began) have told us that the portico looks like it belongs on the house. We’ve since done projects for three of those neighbors, and Simone and Michelle are well into the planning stages of a large kitchen and master bath remodel that we hope to begin in January 2011.