Originally a protection from intruding elements, wainscoting now serves strictly decorative purposes. Wainscotings main purpose was to cover the lower part of the walls, in houses constructed with poor or non-existent damp proofing. Believed to originate in medieval Poland, this term was used to describe the high quality oak boards that were produced there and transported to homes throughout Europe.

Traditionally constructed from tongue and groove boards, wainscoting today can be made of various materials. Ornate wainscoting is associated particularly with seventeenth and eighteenth century interior design, mainly in Victorian homes.

Today, it can be found in various home styles from arts and crafts, turn of the century Queen Anne’s, and simplified into more contemporary homes. Wainscoting gives a custom and luxurious look although it was originally something of necessity.

When specifying wainscoting in a room, it is important to remember the rule of thirds. Simply meaning, don’t place the top of the wainscoting equally centered between the floor and the ceiling. You should image the wall divided equally into three parts, typically it is placed on the lower third portion of the wall. Sometimes in larger settings the wainscoting takes up two-thirds of the wall space, as shown below.

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The James J. Hill House- History

If you haven’t yet gotten the opportunity to check out the James J. Hill house on Summit Ave. in St. Paul, I highly recommend that you do so. I’ve made a few visits over the past few years and am always impressed, even beyond the stunning architectural details, pipe organ and 22 fireplaces there is so much to take in.

Pipe Organ
  • Completed in 1891
  • 36,000 sq ft (largest residence in Minnesota)
  • U.S. National Historic Landmark
  • Designed by Peabody, Stearns and Furber
  • Architectural style is Richardsonian Romanesque
  • James J. Hill supervised the design and construction very closely
  • Hybrid lighting system of both gas and electric
  • Hand tooled leather walls
    Upper Skylight
Grand Staircase
Have you been? What’s your favorite part?
Sources: 1 / 2 / 3

Union Oyster House – A Historic Gem!

If your ever in the Boston area and want to visit a unique piece of history, we recommend you check out the Union Oyster House. It’s the oldest continuous service restaurant in the U.S. opening its doors in 1826. It’s got great food, and has an impressive list of patrons, including regulars such as the Kennedy clan and Daniel Webster. 

The Kennedy Clan has patronized the Union Oyster House for years. J.F.K. loved to feast in privacy in the upstairs dining room. His favorite booth “The Kennedy Booth” has since been dedicated in his memory. 

The building was built around 1704, prior to it becoming a restaurant. It was  formally known as the Atwood & Bacon House.  The Food is traditional New England fare and it is said that it is where the toothpick was popularized in America.  The menu still features Yankee classics, such as clam chowder and boiled scrod.

 Much of the original restaurant’s flavor and physical structure remains. The floors, structural wooden beams, bar, and fireplace are showing their age. 

Sources: 123

In Celebrating our Independence…

We have compiled a list of traditional home styles that can be found in various parts of the world, but are also found in the Minneapolis- St. Paul area. What else speaks traditions like a cozy front porch and an American Flag?

The American Craftsman

  • Origins date back the the late 19th century in Boston, MA
  • Features include: Low pitched roof lines, deep overhanging eaves, exposed rafters, front porch beneath extension of main roof, tapered or square columns, and handcrafted stone or wood-work
  • Notable architects include:  David Owen Dryden, Frank Llyod Wright, Greene and Greene, and Herberg Hapgood  
The Queen Anne 
  • Origins date back to the United Kingdom while  the American Queen Anne dates to the mid 19th century.
  • Features include: sash windows, local brick and stone, large wrap around porches, decorative trim, elaborate architectural elements, and  patterned shingles
  • Notable Architects: Sidney Stratton
The Tudor Revival
  • Features include: half timbering, herringbone brickwork, mullioned windows, high chimneys, dormer windows

The Dutch Colonial 
  • American Origins date back to early 17th century in Pennsylvania
  • Features include: gambrel roofs, flaring eaves, double hung windows, shutters, and a central double dutch door
The Georgian
  • American origins date back to the late 18th century
  • Features include: Symmetrical facade, double hung windows, paneled door with pilaster, and a pediment crown
The Second Empire
  • American origins date back to mid 19th century
  • Features include: Mansard rood with dormers set into it, patterned shingles and deep eaves with decorative brackets.

Sources: 1234/ 5 / 6

Uncovering History

We recently completed this gardening cottage and garage addition :

Front Before                                            After

Rear Before                                             After

We are delighted the client has chose to move along with more renovations!  While tearing off the original  siding, circa 1922 we found bits and pieces of the original cedar shingles. Interested to know a background we did a little research and here is what we found.

The original siding  was manufactured by Puget Sound Mill and Timber Company in Port Angeles, WA.

Puget Sound Mill and Timber Company Locomotive No. 7

Puget Sound Mill and Timber company was founded in 1914. In 1926, Puget Sound Mill and Timber company purchased a locomotive on the Pacific Railway which linked Port Angeles to St. Paul and other thriving mid-western cities. The company, just like any other had highs and lows:

  • The timber mill was located at Twin, just outside of Port Angeles, WA
  • During World War I, the government assigned 27,000 men to the “spruce” division of Puget Sound Mill and Timber. 
  • ” The Big Wind of 21″ destroyed 8 million board feet of sellable lumber growing in the North Olympic Peninsula
  • With the stock market crash in 1929, Twin’s fate was sealed and the timber industry was hit hard. 
  • In the early 1930’s Twin’s railway connecting it to the outside world was tore up, this was the end of Puget Sound Mill and Timber Company.

Puget Sound Mill and Timber Company Lumber Mill
The mill was later a pulp mill, purchased by Georgia- Pacific in 1963 and remained open until 2001.

We are replacing the current 90 year old shingles with a high quality siding which will last the owners many more years while keeping the home looking true to its 1922 style. Replacing it with premium grade, sawed and sanded all four sides, and pre-primed all four sides to prevent moisture from penetrating through the back side, over time, moisture from the back side will lead to the surface paint failure.  We will share more photos when the project is complete. 

Sources & Images: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4