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 2x8 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  2x10″ 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

Sister Houses

Once Mark and I began our research of the Hardaway Cottage. We were assisted by Mr. Mike Shaddix; the historian at the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation. He sent us an amazing amount of information including building specification that had to be submitted to FDR through his holding company, The Meriwether Reserve. Included in those documents were multiple references to a home on Peachtree Battle Drive in Atlanta. Long story short, we decided we had to have a look for ourselves and we went! Not only did we go, but we knocked on the door and made a new friend! The current owner of the home graciously opened up his home to us and gave us a tour! We have now teamed up to research our sister houses!

Mr. H. W. Nicholes was a builder in Atlanta. He also brought his son an architect into the business and the company name, Nicholes and Nicholes, reflects that. In 1929 he built and lived at 549 Peachtree Battle Road. It appears that this was also where his son lived. This information was established by a register of Georgia architects. We have the documentation through building specifications that establishes the fact that Rebecca Hardaway (Mrs. Benjamin Hurt Hardaway Sr.) hired the Nicholes firm and visited this home, and she was so impressed with many of the features that she requested them in her investment home, the Hardaway Cottage, in Warm Springs Georgia. The Hardaway Cottage was completed in 1933. We know this because it appears in a copy of “The Polio Chronicle”.

We tried to figure out how the Hardaway family and the Nicholes family knew each other. Since the Hardaway family founded and operated a concrete company, Hardaway Contracting Company, it seems reasonable to think that they may have been business acquaintances. Nicholes was a well-known Atlanta builder and architect, and Hardaway developed concrete techniques that were replacing wooden bridges and other structures as we moved into the 20th century. Another possibility that could have brought them together may have been the good old fashioned family connection. A Mr. Joel Hurt brought Nicholes in on a building and development project. Benjamin “Hurt” Hardaway may have been the relative that introduced them.

The project that Joel Hardaway started and Nicholas tried to finish was the development of Cameron Court, a subdivision in Atlanta. According to documentation related to historic status filing for Cameron Court Mr. Nicholes faced financial stress that culminated in a bankruptcy. Due to the bankruptcy in 1926 Mr. Nicholes only completed half of the houses in Cameron Court and other builders stepped in to complete the subdivision. Apparently, the risks of building development were difficult then just like they are now! Mr. Nicholes developed homes in Cameron Court, Atkins Park and Druid Hills. Clearly this is not an inclusive list.

The home on Peachtree Battlle appears to be a combination of styles including Spanish the Hardaway Cottage is clearly Georgian. Common features on the exterior between Peachtree Battle Road and 78 Magnolia Street, (Hardaway Cottage) include the slate roof, brick construction painted white, quoin corners, and black shutters. On the interior both homes share the exact same hearth and mantel, stair style, bathroom tile in two bathrooms, and white oak floors. Additionally, both homes utilize a Jack and Jill style bathroom on the second story of the house, and they both have a sun porch with a red promenade tile floor.

I think that the two homes demonstrate the talent of Nicholes since he customized each home to the needs of the owner and the location. The Magnolia Cottage is a very early example of a home with handicapped access since it was built with a Sedgewick elevator. It was designed as a high end rental property for patients to the Roosevelt Foundation and wealthy families wishing to vacation at the warm springs. The rental patterns during the 1930’s included families who would rent a home for several months at a time either for vacationing or patient treatment. These two homes are a testament to the talent of the Nicholes father and son team.

Rebirth of a Kitchen Pt3

     First task was to gut the kitchen. That’s always fun when you strip something down in a house. Beth and I love to play “Name that Smell.” Of course that’s always followed by the ever popular “Where’s that Smell?” Photos walk you through it. Start with the obvious and end with the demolition…appliances>cabinet doors and hinges>ranges>plumbing fixtures>counter tops>cabinets>flooring>flooring adhesives. That last one liked to kill me. Researched the “youtube” and it seemed the most effective was a floor polisher with diamond cutting strips that slowly ground the adhesive and tar off the wood by rough sanding into the wood surface. $250 and 18 hours later the floor is ready for finish sanding by “the floor guy.” Yes that’s right, I am not even going to try to sand every floor in this house and perfectly apply stain and top coat. We have a guy for that.

This is the Gene Spalding kitchen that we started with upon purchase. The thin lower cabinets at the far end of the room will be repainted, stacked, and used as a dining room built-in for linens. All of the cabinets will be rebuilt for the new space. Some of the base cabinets must be cut for wheelchair access. All of the doors must have flat panels put in them to give a 1920-30’s look. I’ll cover that in another post. Here goes the demo.

The TV shows always show people swinging sledge hammers. It’s actually a lot easier to remove the screws and take the cabinets down. If you don’t have TV remodel elfs then who wants to pick up all of those little splintered pieces. Besides we are repurposing the cabinets. Gene Spalding paid for top quality furniture grade oak. The wall with a giant piece missing is our special find. We won the game of “Where’s that Smell” and found old termite damage in the wall under the center window. Luckily it has no activity, but it will take a day to build back the wall. The white and black stuff on the floor is the leftover from the adhesive of the original linoleum. Today we think of linoleum as a low grade floor covering. In 1933 it was a new invention and was considered quite swanky. It is the final layer to remove before we could see the beautiful 3/4″ white oak wood floors. 

The hopes of having fun riding on a floor polisher were dashed as I learned to balance the thing as it screamed around the room. Felt like I was wrestling a bull for two days. It only kicked me once when I let go of the handle too quickly, the blades were still spinning, and the handles spun around as I walked away and hit me in the ribs. Luckily…nobody saw that and…”I’m good, I’m alright.” Didn’t finish until about 10pm on the second day. Dust flying everywhere as I beat the floor into submission. Now I see why “the floor guy” said “I’m not scraping that stuff off.”

     Fast forward to end of process…the floors look great, are very level now. They will finish up beautifully.

Rebirth of a Kitchen Pt2

     “Learn a spaces original form, and you have a guide for reforming that space.”

Warm Springs Vacation

Original kitchen blueprints from architect HW Nichols of Atlanta 

Warm Springs GA Hotels owners

Top view in Sketch-Up of the original kitchen and breakfast room 

     Here are the original plans and layout of the kithen. The blueprint is from the archives of the Roosevelt Institute. Even though this is a private residence, it is still on the grounds of the Institute and had to conform to their building convenents.

     As we removed the flooring down to the hardwood the original structure was confirmed. The wood flooring had repairs that filled-in where walls once stood. Of course these repairs now have to be replaced with hardwood harvested from areas that will be under cabinets. The structure of the original floors is fairly simple. Diagonal strips of wood are nailed to the floor joists. Final boards are nailed to the diagonal boards. In the Hardaway Cottage the diagonal boards are pine and the final floor boards are white oak.

Hardaway kitchen floors warm springs ga
Layers of an older home wood floor. Floor joists are vertical first layer of diagonal boards are pine. Finish layer of horizontal boards is white pine at the Hardaway Cottage

          When we purchased the property we realized that the kitchen had been remodeled by Gene Spalding sometime in the 90’s. The kitchen remodel removed walls and installed custom made, high quality cabinets. This is the one room we are gutting and starting again. We wanted to make sure that the kitchen is ADA compliant and returned to a look and feel of the 1930’s when it was built. We are keeping the larger size without the breakfast nook. Below is a Sketch-Up rendering of the remodel.

new size Hardaway Cottage Kitchen
New size of Kitchen
Haradaway Kitchen Mockup Warm Springs GA
Hardaway kitchen floors warm springs ga

The mock-up shows a new design and ADA accomodations. Elizabeth has designed shelves that leave the windows open and allows for a unique display of drinkware.

We have a long way to go to get to the final plan. It always seems impossible when you start. The transformation begins.

Rebirth of a Kitchen Pt1

In a remodel of any space you start with what is there. You can have all the dreams or images of what could be or what you want. However, you must always deal with what exists first. That is a fancy way of saying, while all of the TV remodeling shows love “demo day,” the reality of cleaning up all of the broken pieces and scraping away of layers of flooring, paint, dirt, and glues is no fun without the behind the scene TV demo minions. It is just long, tedious, dirty work.

Gene Spalding Kitchen Warm Springs GA
Gene Spalding Kitchen Warm Springs GA
Gene Spalding Kitchen Warm Springs GA
Gene Spalding Kitchen Warm Springs GA

Existing Kitchen January 2017. Gene Spalding remodel in mid 1990’s.

     Part of the fun of remodeling for Elizabeth and I is the act of discovery as we uncover the layers of history in a bathroom or kitchen floor. We explore how each family that made the house a home decorated and used the space. What paint was on the walls, What flooring is possibly under the layers of linoleum, wood, press-and-peel tile, original 1933 premium linoleum, and original hardwood planks covered in 80 year old tar. Regardless of what we might think of the color, material, or style; someone took the time to pick out each wallpaper design, every floor covering type, and each cabinet feature.

     We uncovered a brightly colored mid 1960’s kitchen wallpaper design and texted pictures to the man that grew up in the house at that time. He was so excited to once again see his “Mother’s Wallpaper.” Elizabeth and I know the appearance of our house in Atlanta is scrutinized in every detail by our grandaughters to see what has changed. The inevitable questions follow as to why we changed one of their favorite things. Making a kitchen the center of a home starts with design and decor, but is only complete by building memories with family.

     We want to rebuild the platform of memory buidling at the Hardaway Cottage. Functional design is key to inviting people to hang around to bake cookies or nibble as dinner is being prepared. Simple things that we remember the rest of our life. I can still picture two little boys in pajamas helping their Mom press home-made granola into a baking pan and licking their sticky fingers. Then pouring milk for their “bed-night” snack. Those boys are grown now, but I won’t forget.

Why This House?

Why This House?

The first time I wandered through the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute I was amazed by the beauty of the land. It looks and feels like a beautiful park, or an exclusive school a bit past it’s glory days. I kept going back so that I could take it all in. I took my husband, my mother and step-father, my aunts, my sister, and my friends. I felt like I was walking along side the hundreds of brave men, women and children who faced Polio with dignity and bravery. I felt a connection.

I can tell you all the reasons why Mark and I bought the Hardaway Cottage, but the truth is I felt it before I could defend it. This project spoke to me in so many ways. Of course the home and grounds are beautiful in their own right, but there is more to it than that. The history of the house is fascinating. Each family who owned it lived through a different period in U.S. history and was drawn to the home for their own reasons. We hope for the Hardaway Cottage to be a celebration of all the wonderful families who have called it home. We look forward to sharing it with you.

Over the next few weeks I will be posting a brief bio of each family who has owned the Hardaway Cottage with available photos, interviews and original documentation of the unique character of each family. Each family made special contributions to the home and used it to meet the specific needs of their family. I have felt like I was on a treasure hunt as I both explored the closet’s and attics of the buildings, and as I searched the web and chased down leads to discover the stories this home had to reveal.

 

Mrs. B. H. Hardaway

Mrs. B. H. Hardaway was a remarkable and independent woman with vision and tenacity. In the late 1920s, after the death of her husband, she made the bold decision to sell Coca Cola stock and build the Hardaway Cottage on the grounds of the Roosevelt Institute for Rehabilitation.This was a bold choice for anyone since the country was recovering from the great depression, but she as a woman was moving about in a man’s world and demonstrated incredible determination.

Prior to the mission of polio treatment and research the grounds of the Warm Springs institute had also served as a resort for the wealthy. In the page above from the 1933 edition of the Polio Chronicle it is noted that, “Mrs. B. H. Hardaway of Columbus, Ga. who for years has owned a cottage near the Inn and spent part of summers here has completed a fine brick home.” Clearly the Hardaway family and Rebecca had a fondness for the area prior to the arrival of Franklin D. Roosevelt. But, I can only surmise that as Roosevelt promoted the area for the treatment of Polio, established a home in the area, and hosted important dignitaries Rebecca became convinced of the importance of the area.

 

Every House Tells a Story

 

I love stories. My earliest memories are of my father telling me stories. After supper he would let me sit in his lap and he would tell me about life in rural Alabama during his childhood. He grew up in a close knit family that shared work, adventures, food and love. Those stories are my heritage. With the help of my mother I feel in love with books. My mother would read great books to us on long car trips. This was before the days of seat belt laws and I remember hanging over the front seat to catch every word. I still love books and stories, and now I believe every old house has a story to tell.

I am having the time of my life discovery the rich and amazing story of the Hardaway Cottage. My mom said that as a little girl I had a habit of “plundering” in closets and drawers. Now that has turned into a useful skill.  I am turning my nosy tendencies into investigative power and contacting the families of all the past owners. They have been very patient and generous with information and fascinating details. I actually have two parallel stories to share; one is the history of the house, and the other is the process of renovation and restoration. I plan on sharing both, but tomorrow I will introduce you to the namesake of the Hardaway Cottage; Mrs. Rebecca Hardaway of Columbus, GA.