In the Aftermath of Neglect: A Creative Historic Home Renovation

When some close friends bought the worst home on the block in an up-and-coming historic district, they called me. They are a wonderful young couple that has made their business breathing new life into older, often neglected homes. Even though they had remodeled dozens of other properties before, this historic home renovation was going to be their toughest one yet.

“Larry we are thinking of buying a 1926 residence in Mesta Park. It has loads of potential, but man, it’s rough!” A post (with pictures) on their business's Facebook Page stated, "It's a 90 year old duplex begging to be converted into a single family home. It also has a carriage apartment in back. It's located in a historic area called Mesta Park so all exterior modifications need city approval and require us to keep the house as similar as possible to the original features." 

A Google Maps examination and an Oklahoma County Assessor records search online revealed it was indeed a one story duplex and it was within a stone’s throw of Mesta Park proper. I met them later to look through the house. It also had a detached 3-car garage with upstairs apartment. Lots of potential, and lots of work ahead. Do you want to come see it?

Delayed Maintenance Almost Got This Old House

The historic home had not been occupied in some time, and was unfit for living. There were obvious holes in the roof, windows were in poor condition, and there was no plumbing. Electrical was sketchy. Large portions of the exterior layer of brick resonated to a tap with the fist and some had already fallen. Of course, there was zero insulation. It would need to be stripped down to the studs and rebuilt. Oh, and over half of the wood siding on the garage was simply gone. 

This when I started remembering the “loads of potential” comment from the owner, and heard the rest of their vision for the property. “Besides the basic rehab work, and converting it from a duplex to single family home, we want to remove the second set of front steps and the second front door…if they’ll let us. Oh, and we also want to add a large master suite addition off the back”, said one of the owners. 

What did I get myself into, I thought? 

Next time we will look at the existing conditions before work began, and begin discussing the conversion from a duplex to a single family residence. In subsequent posts, we will work through the architectural design process for this historic home renovation, conducting historic property research, how to work with the City's Planning Department, the design review process, and, obtaining a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission. There should be a lot of other good information packed in as well. 

Let me know some specifics of what you would like to see covered in the series ahead. This blog is intended to be a conversation, and I would love to hear from you. 

Please comment below!