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Main Homes History lesson

History lesson

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Written by Vivian McInerny   
Tuesday, September 04, 2012

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You’d think a man who builds houses for a living would know better than to fall in love with an old one. But John McCulloch is a sucker for a pretty place.

The object of his affection? A Dutch Colonial Revival circa 1912 in the Irvington neighborhood of Northeast Portland.

“The same year,” he notes, “that the Titanic sank.”

The house too was sinking, or at least sagging in the center. Its water pipes had rusted and leaked inside walls. Dry rot had invaded the wood. The wiring was shot. And the grounds were in such bad shape, they’d require 20 dumpsters to cart off the ivy alone.

But the owner of McCulloch Construction was smitten. He bought the house in August 2010.

McCulloch, who almost accepted a position as a writing professor before he turned to buying and renovating homes 19 years ago, drew on both his academic and building expertise for this particular project. He researched. He read. He made a study of the era, the building, the builder and the original owners of the home, before putting his team to work restoring the old house to her glory days and then some.

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Elaborate ironwork railings were handwrought by Sol Creations. French doors on the second floor open to a balcony that leads to the old house.The chimney flue was split to make room for a window and small window seat, perfect for curling up with a book from the extensive library.

Books in the library are arranged in order of when they were written to show the evolution of literature.

The original Dutch Colonial Revival-style house built by Frederick Bowman has four large columns on the front porch. McCulloch gave the kitchen/library addition (left of the house) similar columns. The new garage resembles period carriage houses.

Photos by John Valls

click on photos to view larger

John McCulloch's remodeled Dutch Colonial Revival home in Irvington.The original house has four large columns on the front porch. The kitchen and library addition, to its left, and new garage with second floor office space in foreground, were designed to blend with the Dutch Colonial Revival style in Northeast Portland.
Floor plans show how builder/owner John McCulloch added a kitchen, library and garage without crowding the corner lot.
By reworking existing space, McCulloch turned what was the old kitchen into a breakfast room with doors to a patio and to the fountain room and conservatory.
Drawing of the interior of the library with its spiral wrought iron stairs and railing on upper floor.
John McCulloch has a passion for preserving and matching historical details when remodeling vintage houses for modern living.
A more detailed sketch of the west wall of the library shows the idea of the spilt chimney flue evolving.
The library ceiling soars up to a second level with a catwalk-like floor on three sides for easy access to books and a balcony above the kitchen that leads to the second story of the original house.
The third floor of the original house includes two bedrooms with antique light fixtures and a shared bath.
The basement could hold a couple bowling lanes, pool table or workout equipment and still have room to spare.
The addition of the garage, kitchen and library helped form a courtyard that McCulloch has already found useful when hosting parties and fund-raising events for up to 150 guests.
The garage can hold four small vehicles and the space above with a bath and shower now serves as McCulloch Construction offices but could one day be rented out as an additional dwelling unit.
John McCulloch's sketches for his home.The rock face, shingle siding and substantial columns give the garage the look of an old carriage house and echoes the style of the original home.
John McCulloch's remodeled Dutch Colonial Revival home in Irvington.The original house has four large columns on the front porch. The kitchen and library addition, to its left, and new garage with second floor office space in foreground, were designed to blend with the Dutch Colonial Revival style in Northeast Portland.PHOTO JOHN VALLS

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0 #1 An Amazing Respect for HistoryKate Baggott 2012-12-19 00:14
This is exactly the kind of restoration project the world needs more of. Connecting with our past closes the gap between us and those who came before. As your article shows, it builds respect and it builds empathy. Those are things are wonderful to bring into any project and, more importantly, any home.
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+1 #2 R-e-s-p-e-c-tVivian McInerny 2012-12-19 07:27

I agree. Builder/remodeler/homeowner John McCulloch has done an amazing job on this project.

Plus, he's a really, really nice guy.
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0 #3 RE: History lessonJoy Drewfs 2013-11-16 21:54
What a beautiful home! I am happy Mr. McCulloch had the time, money, and LOVE to redo the house. I think if more people had the first two things there would be more of these restorations. Thank you, Mr. McC.
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