And the Deck Goes On

Work has continued on the porch doing all of the necessary things to meet building codes for safety. Unfortunately most of the work wil be unseen once the porch is complete. This includes 2-way bracing at each post and beam connection, joist hangers at both ends of 48 joists, and 2 hurricane clips where every joist crosses a beam. So that means 52 braces in 26 locations, 96 joist hangers, and 300 hurricane clips. The hangers and clips take 10 nails each totaling almost 4000 nails for the hardware. Elizabeth learned how to use a palm nailer and went to town. 

The ramp for wheel chair access came out perfect. For every inch of drop there must be 1 foot of length. The drop from the top of the porch and the sidewalk is 15″. The length of the ramp is 15′.

The hand rail posts had to be installed so that the decking could be placed around it. There are 24 hand rail posts and each had to be leveled and double bolted to a joist. I had to use shims to get them all aligned but the work was not too hard.

Finally deck boards are added! The height of the floor is perfect for the sun porch doors to open straight onto the front porch. I just got started but couldn’t keep this interloper off of the finished section. Another two days and the decking will be complete.

Charles Glenn the WWII Era

Charles Glenn

Charles Glenn was the second owner of the Hardaway Cottage. He was the head of a fascinating family during a critical period in U.S. and Warm Springs history. Charles and his wife Cathron had four children; three daughters and a son. During WWII the household included Charles and Cathron Glenn, their children; Cathron Glenn Trepagnier, Eleanor Glenn O’Neill, Ann Glenn Corey, and Alexander Lindsey Glenn, as well as grandchildren including the daughter of Cathron Glenn Trepagnier, Cathron Birge who has been communicating with me. In fact, I would consider their time at the Hardaway to be during the “Golden Years” of Polio treatment in Warm Springs.

The Glenns purchased the home because of the mobility needs of both Cathron Glenn, Charles’s wife, and his son Alexander. Cathron had rheumatoid arthritis. The elevator was very helpful for her, and in addition their youngest child and only boy Alexander had polio. He received treatment for his polio at the foundation, as it was known at that time. Sometime during the 1940s the Glenn family added a bedroom and handicapped bathroom on the main floor of the home for Alexander. This handicapped access was very unusual for the time period. In fact, all the historic homes on the grounds of the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation are handicapped accessible.

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to communicate with Cathron Birge, the oldest grandchild of Charles and Cathron Glenn. She was kind enough to share some of her memories with me. She was born at a local hospital in Manchester, GA and brought home to a cottage on the grounds of the institute. Within just a few months the entire family moved into the Hardaway Cottage. She remembers that during her childhood the Hardaway Cottage and the Little White House shared a telephone party line. Also, when FDR was not in town his cook, Daisy Bonner, cooked for the Glenn family. Cathron Birge was not sure if her grandfather and FDR knew each other prior to their purchase of the Hardaway Cottage. But it seems likely that FDR was acquainted with the Glenn family since they were neighbors, and Alex received treatment at the institute. During the 1940’s the institute hosted a fund raiser every Thanksgiving, and during one such dinner Alexander was seated at the head table with FDR and was photographed with him.

Another interesting fact about Charles Glenn is that he commuted between Warm Springs, GA and Oak Ridge, TN for work. Oak Ridge was a government created and planned city for the development of the Atom Bomb. This information sent me on a quest for additional information. The book, City Behind a Fence, chronicles the creation of the city and the lives of the men, women and children who lived there. During the 1940’s when Oak Ridge was in full swing they never were able to keep up with the demand for housing. It makes sense that Charles would have commuted. With the medical and mobility issues of Alexander and Cathron, and the number of family members there would not have been housing available for the Glenn family.

I have been thrilled to learn about the Glenn family and the history of the Hardaway Cottage. I hope someday to host Cathron Birge and any other Glenn family members. It will be so much fun to hear in person their memories, and you can bet we will get a lot of pictures!



The Lady has Curves

It was our youngest granddaughter who gave the Hardaway Cottage my favorite name as only Ellie could. After seeing the house for the first time she nonchalauntly said “I think we should call the house “The Grand Old Lady.” I could not agree more. And this week the Lady got curves. As noted in another post, we designed the front porch early in the process. 

You can see a design choice that helps soften the starkness of the house. The curved corners of the porch were designed to make a strong statement and add great visual interest. Easy to draw, more difficult to make in the real world. Glad to say that the beast has been tamed. The internet is filled with all sorts of methods for doing construction projects. When it comes to deck construction it is more difficult to find ideas that also pass current Georgia building codes. Here are images of the deck without the curved corners. The joist structure is almost complete except for the access ramp, stairs, decking, 52 corner braces, 96 joist hangers with 10 nails each, 300 hurricane clips with 10 nails each, and rounded front corners. OK, still some work to go.

Building curves on a deck can be done in several ways. A small calculation was necessary to determine the circumference of the complete circle then the 1/4 portion I was using to make the curve. 

I used a 36″ radius which would make the 1/4 turn on the corner officially 55.5″ long. I extended it to 60″ length for a slightly sharper corner. I used a nail, string, and pencil to mark the arc of the curve on the joists so that I could cut them to support the curved section. Next, I kerf cut the 2×8 every inch along the 60″ section. The board was extended by 12″ on each side of the kerf cuts to allow for a nailing section. I cut to a depth of 1″. This left 1/2″ of material that became 

flexible to make the curve. One board bent easily with this cut. A second board required an additional 1/4″ depth on the kerf cut to bend correctly. The third board broke at one of the kerf cuts due to a knot. Here is the process. 

So, The Lady has Curves. I did the center inside radius by flipping the board and exposing the kerf cuts. I will use a 1/4″ ply to cover the cuts. With some glue in the kerfs it will firm up nicely. 

Now on to hurricane clip and joist hangers. If you have never owned or used a palm nailer, you must get one. To hammer 2,400 hanger nails in tight spaces by hand is murder. The mini palm nailer was worth every penny of the $40 investment.

Level On a Rounded Hill – Porch Build Pt1

Level ≠ Flat

Here is the engineering challenge. How do you match the height of a finished 60′ W x 17’D deck to that of an existing tilting brick porch that sits on top of a sloping hill? Here’s what I started with.

The brick porch section at the top of the center stairs is the portion that we are integrating into the wooden porch. The stairs will be covered by the front extension. The large pots will be moved under the lights on either side of the door. This is a freestanding deck so nothing will be attached to the exterior brick of the house. This preserves the historic value of the design and can be removed later if desired.

I must first dig out and pour 26 concrete footers each 2 feet deep 

by 8″ in diameter. On top of these are metal brackets that secure 6″x6″ posts to the concrete footer. The posts are cut to the correct height and notched before placing them in the bracket. The notch holds 2  2×10″ beams that have been nailed together to support the deck joists that form the frame to attach the final layer of decking boards. Each post must be cut to have the final deck height the same as the existing porch. Using a line level I measured the height from each concrete footer to what would be level with the existing porch. After subtracting the thickness of the joist and decking, I had the correct height of the beam for that footer.

Elizabeth & Mark with an auger

Mixing Concrete

Concrete Footer with metal bracket

Using line level to measure post height to match porch

Line level with string

Posts on footings with porch level in background

Beams added to posts

All beams complete 60′ across

Greatest helper in the world placing joists for the final framing

The right side of the porch joists is complete except for the rounded corner. The center and left side have all of the boards laid out for the next days work. That will make it easier to complete. Carrying 55 2x8x16’s is not an easy task in the Georgia heat with 98% humidity.   

A Front Porch Changes Everything

Plan, Plan, Plan

Elizabeth and I started discussing the addition of a front porch just a few weeks after purchasing the Hardaway Cottage. Our negotiations started with a 200 square foot deck and ended with a 713 square foot accessible front porch that can accomodate 60 people seated for a small wedding. This challenge but fantastic project would transform the look of the imposing entrance into a warm and inviting comfortable place to spend time with friends.

The Hardaway is an example of Georgian Architecture. These homes were designed to have an imposing entrance that states to the world “we have arrived.” It is also a part of why the Hardaway gained the local reputation of “creepy white house on the hill.” Elizabeth knew that a well designed front porch would soften the look of the entrance and also give a needed and valuable space to enjoy the house. 

Starting with the look and feel we were able to design a deck that gives access from the front door and both Sunroom Windows once they were opened. A wheelchair ramp runs along the side wall of the Sunroom with an almost flat access from the driveway. The image above was created in Sketch-Up. This is the same program used in many HDTV house remodeling shows. It has a steep learning curve and is more like CAD software than graphic design programs. I wrestled with it but eventually got a good rendering to make base decisions.

Next was the budgeting. Every nail, joist hanger, post, beam, joist, and deck board had to be selected and purchased. That meant support to finishing structures had to be designed to meet the 2014 Georgia Prescriptive Deck Building Codes. Had help with that from Rachel and Doug Butler. Thanks guys. The code describes how each portion of the deck is built to sustain the anticipated stress of weight and usage. It gives sizes of footers, support posts, beams, joists, decking, railings, and steps. It also prescibes current codes for how to attach all of the pieces with the proper hardware and fasteners. It still involves way too many choices. Budget, oh yes. The small porch from our original design had material costs of $2,500. The final design with the wrougt iron railing stands at $5,500. However, Elizabeth has designed a stunning porch. It will clearly be a statement piece the home really needed.

The fun begins as we break ground for the footers. Same deck time…same deck channel. 

Warm Springs GA Warm Springs Hardaway Cottage