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Restored Victorian Porch, East Central Illinois

When New Prairie began working on the house, there was a dilapidated original side porch and a front porch that was built in the 1980s. Both of these had to be removed so we could start from scratch. While the restored porch is larger than the original structure, the columns and trimwork were all recreated from old photographs and original pieces found on site. We also added some hidden modern amenities — the ceiling beadboard covers security and electrical wiring.

In order to make the curved part of the porch roof, a full-size template was made on site, then transported back to our shop. Fifteen sheets of high-quality 1/4″ luan were laminated together with exterior-grade glue, and the piece was clamped to a giant jig of plywood and 2×4 blocking.

Each column had 52 separate pieces of Victorian trim (often referred to as “gingerbread”) that had to be fabricated, put together, painted, and installed. Elaborate templates were made and the trim pieces were cut and sanded by hand. A mock-up of the porch column allowed us to make sure the paint scheme would be pleasing. Once we were sure we had it right, the trim was painstakingly applied to the porch. Many of the pieces were repeatedly kerfed (slit with a saw) on the back side to allow them to bend around the curve.

The rest of the home’s exterior was completely restored as well. The brickwork was repointed with historically correct lime mortar; chimneys and cupola were rebuilt; corbels, occuli, and shutters were repaired and reinstalled.

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