c. 1850 Italianate – Springfield, MA

Added to OHD on 11/2/14   -   Last OHD Update: 11/3/20   -   55 Comments
SOLD / Archived Post
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1030 Worthington St Springfield, MA 01109

  • $79,000
  • 5 Bed
  • 2.5 Bath
  • 4805 Sq Ft
  • 0.31 Ac.
Bring your flashlight to insure you're able to clearly see the history, style, charm and character of this potentially exquisite home built for George Kibbe of the Springfield Massachusetts based Kibbe Candy Company which dates back to the mid 1850's. Located in the historic Hill McKnight area, the home is a true diamond in the rough and awaits the careful hand of a lover of magnificent homes to bring it back to it back to its rightful position as one of the Springfield's grand homes and a prime example of why Springfield became known as the The City of Homes. This wonderful Italianate Victorian features five fireplaces, two floors of living area, a partially finished attic (probably the servant's quarters) and is capped with a widow's walk for a panoramic view of the surrounding area. As noted this is an historic home that will require a complete renovation and as such is being sold as is with no warranties offered. APO two underground oil tanks are on property.

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54 Comments on c. 1850 Italianate – Springfield, MA

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  1. LydiaO says: 22 comments

    O.M.G. It had me at the front door. And the view!

    • RossRoss says: 2411 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
      Emporia, KS

      You made me laugh! And I agree!

    • Robert Hamilton says: 1 comments

      George Kibbe, the original home owner, was my 4th great maternal grandfather. It’s very interesting to see what an ancestor had built. He also owned the Kibbe Candy Company in Springfield. Super cool! If anyone has any further information on this topic, please write me at: scotttish@yahoo.com. Thanks! Robert Hamilton

  2. Bethany says: 3431 comments

    Today is my birthday and this is the only present I want!!!!! I wish there were LOTS more pictures!

    • Ann says: 7 comments

      Be careful what you wish for! LOL, I got one of these as a gift and eight years later we are still working on it. A tough row to hoe when you need to work for money to pay for your hobby house. This is a lifetime of fun and games, as whatever is started as a plan, always results in more twists and turns than the game of life board game. The end is never in sight, and getting sent back to start happens on more occasions than a player can recover from. All that said, hope you get what you want and come play in our reality whenever you are ready! 🙂

  3. Robt. W.Robt. W. says: 358 comments

    Great house, and a street with a catalogue of fine houses. For me, the exterior is the real prize on this one, with its strong form and great porches everywhere, and especially the double pilasters on each face of each corner.

    Inside, there’s one white marble chimneypiece that suggests the 1850s date is right; otherwise it’s much more an 1870s house with a very extensive campaign of turn-of-the-century alterations – inside and outside. For the most part, I like the overlay of styles, though 19thC houses with layers of varying styles might do a purist’s head in.

    Not to minimize the work that the house needs, but the very decrepit looking space in the last two images is the lantern or cupola room. These spaces, unheated, often neglected, and most vulnerable to the elements almost inevitably suffer the worst damage, and it’s not surprising to find them in a sad state – nor necessarily a big or complicated project to right things. It could look a lot worse.

    • says: 355 comments

      I agree, a great exterior, especially the double pilasters on each face of each corner! But as I looked at it over and over, the columns on the 1st level porch looked a little odd. Did anyone else notice this? There are no bases to the columns and the columns don’t match the 2nd floor columns at all. The more I studied the exterior, the more I could see how beautiful this house might have looked without a porch! The dental molding along the roof line matches so maybe it was here all along. What does everybody think?

      And the chimneys and cupola are great, too! Looks like some sheet rock was going up and renovations have been started. Beautiful, beautiful mantles!!!

      • Robt. W.Robt. W. says: 358 comments

        The difference in columns from one story to the next follows the Classical model of “columniation”: fluted Doric at the lower lever (correctly without bases — see the Lincoln Memorial for a famous American example), and at the second story, some sort of unfluted Ionic (or Scamozzi or other Ionic variant). Put crudely, in the Classical model, the vertical progression ascends from a “simple or primitive” Doric, to the intermediate Ionic, and finally, most heavenward, to the richly articulated Corinithian order. There’s no fully developed third-story, but if there were, it would follow that these would be in the Corinthian order.

        As you point out, the cornices (properly modillioned cornices, not dentil cornices) do match and suggest that all the porches — upper and lower story and the porte cochere at the side– were added at one time in a systematic remodeling of the exterior. All of the porches and columns went up at once and in their current appearance, with the difference in columns from the first story to the second intentional.

  4. Paul W says: 462 comments

    This is “really tough”, Its got some very worthy architectural features exterior and interior…But is almost past the point of being not feasible in terms of cost. The porches will need extensive work, Column are rotted through, second floor porch is a total rebuild too. There is major water infiltration in this house and its hard to say how bad it is. I don’t know what the ‘top end’ of the neighborhood is here.

    This is where Preservation organizations are needed. Maybe partner with a local builders association and charity to do a designer show home where a lot of the work is donated. This is going to be a real tough one for an individual to take on and restore and my fear is this is probably worth more as salvage at this point. Hope someone comes along (or some organization ) to save it and we don’t see it being sold in pieces on Ebay.

    • RossRoss says: 2411 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
      Emporia, KS


      Again, I must protest!!!!!!!!!!!!

      If reality aligned with your perspective all old houses needing work would ONLY be purchased by multimillionaires.

      The problem with your perspective is that there are few multimillionaires willing to undertake such an adventure. So, this means that from your perspective almost all old houses needing work should should be demolished and parted out.

      From your perspective I should not have purchased the historic 1894 Cross House because IT NEEDED A TON OF WORK and I am not a multimillionaire.

      Well, thank God reality does not align with your perspective. And the Cross House is in a ton better shape than it was just eight months ago even though — gee — I am not a multimillionaire.

      I bet you that MOST old homes are restored by people who are not multimillionaires. Indeed, the preservation movement really took off in the 1960s and 1970s by people were were more often than not quite humble economically.

      And Paul, YOU are always taking on hopeless house wrecks and restoring them even though you are not…a multimillionaire.

      This is called DO AS I SAY AND NOT AS I DO.

      In my opinion, it is irresponsible to make on OHD statements like:
      – [hope] we don’t see it being sold in pieces on eBay.
      – almost past the point of being not feasible in terms of cost.

      I read a great many old house blogs. It warms my heart to learn of so many people out there — none of them multimillionaires — who have taken on fabulous old houses (most of them a wreck), and using hard work, ingenuity, and dedication, are slowly restoring our cultural and historic heritage.

      This house is a worthy restoration candidate.

      • TimothyTimothy says: 141 comments

        Once upon a time I purchased a Queen Anne in Omaha, NE that needed just as much work as this one appears to need. Most of the main details were there, the mantels, glass, over the top wood and hard wood floors but the house was in very shape.

        It took me a couple of years and yes some significant money and much love and sweat equity but I restored that house and was proud of every single detail.

        I would never, ever consider most houses a multi-million dollar restoration project. There is ALWAYS a way to get the job done and done correctly without resorting to that sort of cost. And I seldom would ever look at a house with an eye to parting it out on EBAY. People that tear apart an old house to sell off the vintage pieces are not to be admired.

        Ross is right. If you love the house and want to save it, sit down, think about what it needs. Can you do some or most of the work yourself? If not, how much would it cost to hire the difficult projects? Is it in your budget? Most houses do not need to have every projected completed in one day. Take your time, finish what you can as you can afford it.

        It is worth your time in the long run.

        It is never to anyone’s advantage to “part out a house just for salvage”. So much of our what should be our cherished heritage and history is being torn down to make parking lots.

        • says: 51 comments

          I agree Timothy. I am far from a millionaire. Heck, most of the time I am barely a thousand-aire. My husband and I bought a fixer upper in foreclosure about 5 years ago, for significantly less than its value in both location and age.
          Now, we are definitely not professionals. But, we fell in love with our house like a lot of people fall in love with the houses that Kelly posts on her website. I relate to Kelly, as I know we all do. I am seriously smitten with old house dreams. So, we do one room at a time. Sometimes one corner at a time. Sometimes we go months doing absolutely nothing because we’ve just had to replace the a/c unit or that time the crepe myrtle a previous owner planted grew through our terra cotta pipes…
          But, we’ve been resourceful. We’ve done a lot ourselves. We’ve met a lot of independent trades people that don’t get the kind of work they used to in a different kind of economy, and we chip away, one thing at a time. And, it’s gratifying and a labor of love. Now, granted, my house is not as grand as some of the beautiful, derelict old houses we see here, but it’s old, and we are its’ stewards now. At least that is how I feel. You said, “Take your time, finish what you can as you can afford it. It is worth your time in the long run.” and that is how we approach our restoration. Sometimes because our house has been remuddled so much and rooms moved multiple times we have just had to learn to let that go and live with what we have. We have learned to take on what we can, and by all means, take our time! Sometimes the journey is more fun anyway. Sometimes I wonder, when we do finally finish, what in the world are we going to do with our time?!

  5. Denise44 says: 4 comments

    This home is in my hometown and neighborhood. We are an inner city neighborhood with a wide range of homes in various conditions. Some homes are featured consistently on local preservation house tours. Several were featured in Living Spaces magazine this past Spring. This part of the neighborhood holds better value than others, however, it is true that this home will cost more to restore than it may ever be worth. But where else would you find such space and detail? Unfortunately, Springfield is often victim to absentee landlords and owners from out of state. People get drawn in by the prices, and rarely are committed to really living here and being part of this community. You have to really want this house for living, regardless of future outcomes. It is a great neighborhood, but certainly not without its challenges. Preservationists needed!

    • RossRoss says: 2411 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
      Emporia, KS

      Hi Denise!

      It is nice to have observations from somebody who lives in the neighborhood.

      In looking as past sales in the immediate area for the past few years I am struck by how cheap some GORGEOUS homes have sold for. I mean, well under $100K!

      Can you offer some background as to the why of these prices?

      This knock-out, for example, which is just down the street, sold for $27K! $27K!


      • says: 422 comments

        Listing has “REO”, so I would assume a foreclosure, and the lienholder may have been the purchaser.

      • Denise44 says: 4 comments

        70 Bowdoin Street is a gorgeous home! However, it sits next to another home which is a burnt out shell. You can’t tell in this picture. This end of Bowdoin also sits close to a local housing complex that, while low income, typically doesn’t have much crime. Few problems. It was however built in the 60’s or 70’s and it a nightmare on the eyes. I remember thinking that even as a child. It does detract from the neighborhood in many folks opinions.
        A few things to note.Springfield is the City of Firsts and the City of Homes. The McKnight neighborhhood was the first hood built outside of the downtown when the trolleys were put it. The wealthiest of Springfielder’s lived here. McKnight houses are unparalleled in the City except perhaps for a few Mansions on Maple Hill where the Wesson (Smith and Wesson) family also resided. That being said, as people fled to the suburbs, Springfield became attractive to landlords and folks who could make a lot of money chopping up 20 room mansions for half-way houses and rooming houses. McKnight took the biggest hit and it remains a problem for our neighborhood. Recently, the Besse Mansion which had been a nursing home, was fully restored and sold last year for 350K. The folks who bought it, thought they could make it dormitories for International Students. This is being fought by the neighborhood. We have a large handful of dedicated individuals, but the the City as a whole and our neighborhood in particular are vulnerable to opportunists. And if you don’t like diversity, this neighborhood is not for you.
        Again, we have homes in magazines and on house tours, and we also have more than our fair share of rentals, projects, and abandoned homes. The foreclosure crisis hit us hard. I’d love for folks to see more of the “best” in McKnight. It truly was built during a time of opulence.

        • RossRoss says: 2411 comments
          OHD Supporter

          1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
          Emporia, KS

          Thanks Denise!

          It is so enjoyable hearing from a local!

          I see the burned-out house next to 70 Bowdoin Street (70 Bowdoin Street is NOT the house in this thread). Going back in time on Streetview you can see the house before it burned. Lovely home.

          Still, it seems extraordinary that 70 Bowdoin Street was sold for $27K!

          Springfield is the location of another favorite OHD house, and on Maple Hill:


          • Denise44 says: 4 comments

            Maple Hill was Springfield’s Gold Coast. Amazing. Maple is located in the Metro Central area, walking distance to museums, main library downtown. You are definitely in the City. This house is amazing and there are some very dedicated neighbors. If we could get people to invest properly things might change, but until then…I love this City. I love the history. I continue to try and be part of the solution. Thanks you for all the positive comments.

    • L Mayo says: 12 comments

      So true —in fact the last time this house was on the market it was what drew us to explore and ultimately move to Springfield after selling the Lebold in KS —

      we looked thru out CT & MA and kept coming back to Springfield for the wide variety of styles it holds — looked at about 50 houses here before deciding on our current home —

      Springfield not just the city of homes —-the city of AMAZING homes at incredible prices — this beauty is just 2 blocks from us and its rumored it is about to close —– we hope they are successful in their purchase —- it will be great to see work commence on it once again —

      If any of you are considering relocation for your next old house project you need to check this town out — you can definitely find great value, great neighbors,great history and wonderful amenities both here & nearby —

      As to this particular example yes there will be a multitude of expenses but with a well thought out game plan and some personal old house skills it is still very much in the realm of reclamation —

      This is not the house for a “flipper” nor for the person who wants to “hire out” all the work for instant results & gratification —- you would exceed resale value in an instant —

      but then most of us never do the work w/ resale in mind — its passionate work for passionate people (some might even call us crazed — i stand guilty as charged) —

      As Denise points out you are going to be in the city — which means different things to different people but remember 9 times out of 10 the best and usually most outstanding houses are in areas that were abandoned after ww2 for the “burbs” and the houses were only able to survive by reuse as apartments or worse —

      but in our work we always say “poverty is the best friend of preservation ” poor people tend to coexist with a structure without making too many radical changes — consequently more intact details will usually remain–

      Fortunately as the old house movement gained popularity in the early 70s & 80s homes were repopulated by owner occupiers willing to tackle the quest of “bringing them back to their former glory” —

      that said most old house neighborhoods are a very diverse mix of folks — our neighbors are a mix of new transplants & long time residents & Springfield natives which is part of what we personally love about city living —

      There are other great houses here still waiting for your restoration — come join us —Regards L Mayo

  6. Robb says: 187 comments

    From a professional restorers point of view, this house is not so bad. Right now the house does not look pretty but with minimal investment ($25K) this house could be well secured and tightened. This is from someone who has not just one house and lives in a fantasy world. You need to have the right knowledge and use the right people and be there to say no to unneeded items. This house is a steal.

  7. RossRoss says: 2411 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
    Emporia, KS

    I cannot think of a more intoxicating retreat/writers room/romantic dining room than the cupola space, once restored.

    If I purchased this house, the cupola would be the first space I would restore. For, when I was feeling a bit down, and overwhelmed, the glorious cupola would revitalize me!

  8. Lamont Humbracht says: 9 comments

    First, let me say I no ax to grind with anyone, I am one of the many uneducated fans of this site who is simply enamoured with these old homes. That said, I want to point out that I really appreciate the banter between two or more folks who have much more knowledge and background than I do with such homes. I tend to see all of these as DIY projects even by myself who has trouble knowing a hammer from a saw. So I appreciate being brought back to earth by having the possible costliness pointed out to me as well as an assessment of the type of architecture, etc that a house might have. To have two or more opinions expressed is not a negative of this site, but rather a great positive. I do want to keep the discussions civil, there doesn’t need to be any personal sniping, but to Paul, Ross, and any others, ALL your comments are welcome, and help present a full appreciation of these homes. I am indebted to all of you.

    • Curiouser George says: 140 comments

      Amen, Brother Lamont! Well said.

      There are few people this blog that I value hearing from more than Paul W (John Shiflet and Robert W. are two others). If his comments appear overly dramatic or strong, I just take that as part of his preservation personality and let it go. Certainly he’s not the only one who has ever restored a period home, but I do think he’s done enough of them to justify giving an expert’s opinion. This blog would suffer if his voice wasn’t heard, just as it would if Ross went silent. Both men contribute for the benefit of many of us.

      For my part, I would say it’s not always necessary to try and prove a point. When Paul stresses the costs and toil of doing a period renovation, then let him be. And when Ross stresses the emotional attachment and satisfaction we get when restoring some of these beauties, then I say let him be as well. In the final analysis, this isn’t our patch but Kelly’s, and we owe her the same respect we would give if we were in her home. As was written on the fireplace in the “ghetto” house, “Let Friendship Kindle Here”!

      In conclusion, I’d like to recommend that we be notified privately if we stray from decorum. As a child, I didn’t mind being taken to the woodshed nearly so much if my sisters and brother weren’t aware of it.

  9. Karen says: 122 comments

    It does not always take millions to save an old house. Not all projects are huge. And most things can be done over time. I bought a 1909 cottage in Portland, Oregon, for $84,000 in 1997. It was tiny (700 square feet) and in a great neighborhood. Over ten years, I re-roofed, added all new siding, replaced two aluminum windows with wood and stabilized the rest, replaced two doors, replaced floors in three rooms and refinished the bedroom floor, replaced light fixtures (yeah, Rejuvenation), gutted and re-did the bathroom, re-did the kitchen (saving the cupboards and the sink, which were original), added a back porch, landscaped, built in bookcases, re-plastered the kitchen walls, replaced some doorknobs, finished off two rooms in the basement, re-plumbed the whole house. I spent about $55,000 re-doing it, all from savings except for the roof (which had to be done the second I moved in). I did a lot of the work myself and hired what I couldn’t (found a great handyman). I sold it in 2007 for $280,000. I was sorry to sell it, but circumstances made it necessary. I am now in Nevada. It recently sold again. Here’s the link: http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/112-NE-29th-Ave-Portland-OR-97232/53877408_zpid/

    Not all projects have to be huge. There are smaller gems all over the country just waiting to be saved.

    • says: 51 comments

      Beautiful house Karen! Bravo! I hope I never have to sell my house, although I’ve been around the block enough to know it’s always a possibility. I am naive and living the dream I guess. I just restore and fix it how I love it, not even thinking about resale most of the time, which will probably bite me in the behind someday.
      It looks like you loved your house too!

      • Karen says: 122 comments

        Thanks, Christy! It was indeed and a lot of fun. The people I sold it do did some different decorating than I did, as seen in the pictures, but they left all the basics I put in pretty much in place – the new siding (with the sunburst), the bathroom, the columns, the kitchen (original sink restored and cupboards).

  10. Denise44 says: 4 comments

    Also, this house had been a VFW for a few decades at least! You know how that goes…

  11. Paul W says: 462 comments

    Anne, it sounds like you are very realistic about your restoration efforts and understand it was not the “original journey” you thought you’d have. Few people really think about what their restoration really cost. If you ask them they might be able to pull a few numbers like how much the furnace cost or what the water heater was, but they couldn’t actually tell you the dollars they spent and chances are they threw all the Lowes and Home Depot receipts in envelopes, those envelopes got put in drawer or box somewhere and never got added up, or quietly thrown away so as to not remind oneself .

    Our modest 2 bedroom shingled bungalow that we paid 52K for (it was a foreclosure) in 2002 has totaled out to 162,755.40 today. Yes, its a very nice two bedroom home and we just dropped our asking price below 200K. That 162,755.40 figure represents what we paid for labor we had to hire like the plumber and the HVAC tech and the electrician to put in a new 200 amp box and we did spend 10K on a story and a half carriage house (5 bids from contractors who understood they were bidding to get that low price) and materials we bought (lots of materials), and appliances and tubs and toilets and such. EVERY receipt spent on the house was logged into my spreadsheet. What that figure doesn’t include my, and Greg’s labor, to recreate period box beam ceilings and window seat in the dining room or the built-ins and fireplace in the living room , or the architectural paneling we recreate that a prior owner yanked out and replaced with 3 inch plastic baseboard. Does not include my cost of painting the house myself or the labor of scraping and prep, nor does it include several weeks of lugging 11 Tons of stone and sand to build the retaining walls or the stone patio and ponds. It also doesn’t include my cost of worn out sawsalls, heat guns, drills and other tools I’ve managed to wear out doing that restoration. If I were duplicating this restoration now (say in 6-9 months hiring it done and hiring a crew) I would expect to have spent 350K, or more.

    I figure that IF and When we sell tis one and pay the realtor and closing costs our labor works out to about 20 cents an hour and our house is not a grand mansion like this one featured here. One of the reasons many neighborhood suffered in the foreclosure crisis is people woke up and realized they were upside down and walked away.

    Or as I suspect in your neighborhood the slumlords panicked, people needed to move and couldn’t and lets face it there is not an overwhelming demand for 15-20 rooms mansion. Sure everyone WANTS one, but when the day to day cot of heating and cooling them, the property taxes (that only go up) and the reality of owning them actually hits you, it is a rare individual who sticks with it as you have.

    • Ann says: 7 comments

      Well said re the time, labor per hour and all of the worn out tools…been there. And am constantly wondering for whom am I customizing and restoring everything? As the people that came before us and obscured and updated, I am sure the people that come after us will also apply their unique stamp.

  12. RossRoss says: 2411 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
    Emporia, KS

    Do artists create great painting just for the money?

    Do writers pen novels just for the money?

    Do scientists invent magical things just for the money?

    Do couples have children and devote 18 years to them so they can make make a mint off them?

    People spend lavish amounts of time creating things all the time with with little or no thought to being compensated.

    Here in America there is this mindset that real estate = financial return. While this can often be true, it is often not.

    I never purchased my Cross House for the potential return. Indeed, I expect to lose my shirt. And I do not care because that is not what motivates me. Like a painter who NEEDS to paint, a singer who MUST sing, a ballet dancer who MUST leap, and a writer who HAS to create stories, I need to, ah, restore. The whole process fascinates and invigorates me. I feel like my whole life has been in wait for the Cross House; a feeling I cannot explain.

    In short, while the Cross House will never offer a financial return, it has already started paying out returns which are important, vital, powerful, and even magical. Whenever I am at the house…I feel great. And most nights when I go to bed I smile thinking about what was accomplished today, and I yearn for tomorrow.

    Oh, for those new to OHD and with no idea what the Cross House is:


    • Dot Gillis says: 1 comments

      Paul…is your blog up and running yet? I would love to be able to watch your progress.

    • Debbie says: 7 comments

      Bravo Ross! Spoken like a true preservationist! When both my kids are in college and I can hang up my Stay-at-Home-Mom hat, I’m going to work for someone who restores old homes. But here’s the crazy thing, I DO NOT WANT TO GET PAID! I want to volunteer because I’m so in love with the idea of saving these “Pieces of Art” and “Pieces of our History”. I know I’m blessed with the fact that I don’t have to work for an income, and that isn’t always the case for most, but even if I could get paid by doing odd jobs on the site (I have absolutely no training in restoring old homes) I would refuse because my payment would be: the chance to be a part of something extraordinary, the chance to LEARN SO MUCH, and the chance to get my hands dirty restoring old homes! The best of luck on your gorgeous Cross House!

    • says: 51 comments

      Ross, honey, get me a fan and somewhere to sit quick! I love your house!

  13. Sue S. says: 271 comments

    As we restore our modest 1916 Craftsman bungalow, we’re rediscovering what we already knew — in many if not most cases of house reparations and restorations, the vast majority of costs go towards labor. If you can do some/most/all of that yourself, you can save a boatload. If you can’t, then I hope everyone has the resources (money, handyman brothers-in-law, etc.). Please, let’s not argue.

  14. Now, getting back to the columns. There is evidence of rot and decay (and possibly a bird hole) in the columns. And that is only what we see in the pictures. However the columns are not so large that they could be taken out one at a time and reworked. It just takes the time and effort using the knowledge of materials that will repair, or lots of money.

  15. Robb H says: 187 comments

    We put a lot of love into the houses we restore. Yes, at times we do overkill in some peoples opinion. Many times we thought we would never get the money out of houses we do but we have been fortunate enough to do it. Our personal residences we always do more restoring as it is our personal home and we see it. We used to live in St Paul and had a house right next to the Summit neighborhood (look it up as it is mansions and where many well to do people lived. Nicole Curtis is doing a house there on her show right now). The house we bought had been a $1 house as the neighborhood next to Summit had been awful for a long time due to the residents who had moved in during the 60’s who also split houses like ours into many units (ours was 11 units). We bought it partially restored (restored in the current owners eyes) and we finished it. The money we put into it we never thought we would get out of it. Long story made short, we restored and others did too and our house went up about $200K. Never assume it will not happen. Yes, ours may be a rare example but every house we have done we have never lost no matter how much we have put into it.

  16. August of '57 says: 42 comments

    Looking at this house and others like it, I often wonder about the amount of peeling and flaking lead paint. Where do city inspectors generally stand on this matter? Anyone know?

  17. Lady Marguerite says: 4 comments

    Love how much I learn by reading these posts! I think the general consensus is: we restore old houses for the LOVE. The OBSESSION! Because we want them to be saved, no matter the cost! I personally like things done in period style inside, hate granite, stone, beige HGTV makeovers. However, to save an exterior, I’d be willing to sacrifice a little “original.”

  18. Paul W says: 462 comments

    The EPA mandates that all contractors who ‘disturb’ painted surfaces must have an EPA certified personal on site at all times and that lead safe procedures which include tarping and tenting be followed including sometimes removal of contaminated soils. On the interior paint removal required negative air pressure and hepafilters and staff in clean suits. Since a lot of people often contract out the painting outside, since few want to be up on 40 ft ladders or scaffold. This has added greatly to restoration costs. A paint job that might have cost 10K before the regs now is closer to 20K because of the added cost of tarping and specialized paint removal which is ironic since its getting thrown in the same landfill.

    So far EPA is not regulating private homes owners but that day may not be far off. Some states and municipalities are considering that paint removal ONLY can be done by certified people. These regs have also complicated obtaining loans as often the inspection or appraisals reveal lead paint remediation needed and bank are reluctant to let a home owner do the work meaning more costs or in some cases banks just wont deal with the perceived “liability issues” making loans which were hard to get for renovation , even harder.

    In short buyers should always check the city and state websites to see what their regs are and if you need exterior or interior paint removal and are having it done you might want estimates BEFORE you make an offer.

    • Robt. W.Robt. W. says: 358 comments

      Paul points out the key element of “disturbing” pre-1978 lead-painted surfaces, typically from removal, sanding, scraping, cutting, etc. The EPA makes a distinction between “abatement” as the removal of the lead paint and “continued good maintenance”. The mere presence of lead-paint is not itself a trigger for full-scale abatement. Most older houses have lead-paint, and in most cases it’s in a sense encapsulated by post-1978 paint surfaces — again, not in itself a problem. If you’re not ripping things out or sanding or scraping or otherwise breaking the seal of lead-painted surfaces and stirring particles into the air and property, it shouldn’t be a problem (though some cities have stricter regulations.) It’s when lead-painted surfaces have to be disturbed that it’s a concern.

      When I lived in Charleston years ago some children turned up with high lead levels. It wasn’t poor children peeling off and eating flaking paint, but rich kids whose parents had sanded and scraped every painted surface to the raw wood so that they could have crisp lines when the woodwork was repainted. The fine lead dust had settled everywhere, including the cracks in the hardwood floors where kids played.

      It’s a factor to keep in mind when house hunting. Whether the woodwork and trim is so thick with paint, or an already rough and disturbed surface that would need sanding/scraping preparatory to repainting, or whether it’s a reasonably smooth and clean surface that might only need a fresh top coat of paint in a different color or finish…

      • Steve Marlens says: 32 comments

        It is always a privilege to follow Robert W.’s comments. Important information for us hands-on old-house-restorers. Here I can offer two real-life illustrations of his caution.

        In the early 90s when I lived in New Hampshire, a man in a neighboring town with a Third Period two-story house decided to dry-scrape away 200 years of paint from the wall of fielded paneling surrounding his fireplace to expose the original painted surface, roughly 200 square feet maybe five paint layers thick. Many pounds of lead on those lovely panels. He did so religiously for a couple of hours every day after coming home from work, all by hand and braeking quite the sweat. Within several months he was dead: massive lead poisoning according to the autopsy. A man in my same town was an exterior painter. Nearly all houses in our district were pre-1978, and most, more than 100 years old with many layers of leaded exterior paint needing scraping. His young daughter was having trouble in school and was tested with an IQ somewhere between that of an iguana and a hummingbird. It was a mystery because he had done no scraping or painting in their own home. Eventually they figured out it was second-hand lead exposure. Her dad would come home every day, slinging his clothes over the chair so the lead dust would fly. Then he would wash his overalls with the rest of the family clothes. The adults, slower on the uptake (of lead) showed no perceptible signs. After painful chelation and elimination of all second-hand exposure, the daughter recoverd completely. It took time. Moral of these stories: This is no joke. If you need to deal with lead paint at all, and ideally you avoid it, wear a lead-rated respirator, not one of those paper masks, which ARE a joke when it comes to tiny entrained particulate and if you have to saw cross-cut the occasional piece of leaded trim, take it outside where the dust can disperse. Don’t be a lead-dust denier; it’s unfortunate enough we’re doing it with man-made climate change.

  19. Paul W says: 462 comments

    As somebody who works in old houses all the time I get my lead levels tested and they are perfectly normal. I worked with a client, a young couple who were convinced that their young daughters ‘slightly elevated” lead levels were a direct result of their living in a old building that was part of a loft conversion.

    We tested their loft space, the common Halls, everything in sight and everything was within normal limits. The source of their daughters ‘slightly elevated’ lead levels? It was the local organic farmers market and food co-op they belonged to and the food they fed their family. The vegetables were all grown in urban environments, using no pesticides, but grown in old urban lots that were contaminated with lead. coal dust PCB’s you name it. Their source of contamination was their “localvore ethic” and not their 120 year old building.

    Common sense goes a long way in any old house restoration and I have often advised people with young children to maybe pass on a house needing lots of paintwork. There is no sense taking a chance with younger children. But common sense in stripping paint is critical and I would advise anyone considering doing a major restoration to take some courses in lead paint remediation.

    But your kids are probably going to get more lead exposure playing in the yard and digging in dirt than by your restoration efforts. If you really want to protect your kids, gardening can be a high risk activity due to digging in soil around a house. If you are roto-tilling keep your kids in, be sure you wear some disposable clothing. Put down weed stop and cut openings for the plants and use mulch to keep an additional barrier.

  20. Steve Marlens says: 32 comments

    Here is a link to an EPA brochure, derived from the one I and others authored at the federally funded National Center for Appropriate Technology in the late 1970s and now distributed with the “Lead Paint Disclosure” that is part of most real estate purchases. It is worth a look for all concerned, and you should be:


    Meantime, I, as the man who wrote the brochure, have single-handedly restored half a dozen early, important, threatened houses, so that tells you something–it’s not an insurmountable or prohibitive problem.

    One point the original brochure made was that families, particularly in urban areas with limited garden space, who planted alongside the foundations of their clapboarded old houses, then ate the veggies, often showed dangerously high levels of lead in their blood for obvious reasons. It’s another word of caution to whomever purchases this grande dame and want to grow his own food to help pay for the restoration!

  21. Randy W says: 5 comments

    I have to say this house is certainly feasible for restoration. I have restored two Victorian homes and working on a beautiful 1850’s Greek revival I purchased. In my most humble opinion, I believe this house is certainly salvageable; however, I would only do it if I was willing to live in it. I’m not 100% sure this would make a good flip at the present price, but if you’re interested you should make a much lower offer. It all comes down to price.

  22. joyjoy says: 68 comments

    I appreciate all opinions and aspects of the “old house dreamers” commenting on the various houses. I love hearing from experienced restorers regarding the actual costs and trials and tribulations of restoring old homes. I also love just looking at the old homes and admiring craftsmanship, art, history, and the beauty- whether the homes are already restored or need a visionary-money bags-old house dreamer to restore them. 🙂

    From an old house dreamer standpoint I think that this house is awesome! What an exterior!

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