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Building a Future From the Past

whs_banner_trial_02(1)New exhibit explores architects’ work to update and preserve antique homes
front 1 copy low resWhen Jeff Titus bought the above house, he hired a dendrochronology lab to take samples from the fireplace lentil, front wall and floor joists to run scientific dating tests. (Dendrochronology or tree-ring dating is the scientific method of dating based on the analysis of patterns of tree-rings. Dendrochronology can date the time at which tree rings were formed, in many types of wood, to the exact calendar year. From Wikipedia) The lab results were inconclusive; the best likely dating was somewhere between 1740 and 1760, but during this period it was not uncommon to reuse wood from an older home when building a new home. The Wilton Historical Society dated the home’s origin to 1791. Dendrochronology Report will be available to read at the “Building a Future From the Past” Exhibit.

“Building a Future From the Past” – Exhibit
March 25  –  October 31, 2012
Tue – Fri, 10am – 4pm
Sat, 1 – 4pm;
Sun (through May) 1-4pm: 4/15; 4/29; 5/6; 5/20
Cost: free to members and children, $5 for non-member adults

Special Opening Reception (Free): Sunday, March 25, 3-6pm

Fitch House Move 2001“Fitch House Move 2001”  – Fitch House, formerly 249 Danbury Road.  To make its trip from #249, south to #224 Danbury Road, this 1732/1757 dwelling sacrificed its roof, attic, and rear wings, one of which was rebuilt on the new site.  The center chimney was moved intact, with the top portion reassembled in its new location.  Much of the Wilton community gathered on a cold day in January, 2001, to watch the event, which was led slowly down Route 7 behind the bagpipes of Glenn Shattuck.  In a single day, the house was rotated 180 degrees and set just above its newly prepared foundation.  Watercolor by Ed MacEwen.   Donated to the Society by Hal & Judy Higby     

“This new exhibit explores architects’ work to preserve antique homes while bringing them into the 21st Century.  A special opening reception will be held Sunday, March 25 from 3-6pm, and educational events, an architect’s symposium and other events related to the exhibit are being planned.

Antique homes and their strong visual presence along roads in Fairfield County and throughout New England are an important part of the tapestry that creates the character of the town.

Reminders of the town’s and nation’s heritage, these buildings serve as living monuments of our past. For the owners, antique houses provide a very real connection to the lives of residents long since passed. For those driving by, they offer glimpses of a landscape steeped in history and nostalgia.

The Wilton Historical Society and a team of 11 leading architecture firms from throughout the region explore the many ways these historic homes are being preserved, protected and restored while being adapted for life in these modern times.  The featured architects will be:

  • Richard Bergmann Architects – New Canaan
  • Erskine-Middeleer Associates – Wilton
  • Faesy-Smith Architects – Wilton
  • David Ling Architects – New York
  • Bartels-Pagliaro Architects – South Norwalk
  • Austin Patterson Disston Architects – Southport
  • Kathleen Poirier Architects – Wilton
  • Kevin Quinlan Architecture – Wilton
  • Rob Sanders Architects – Wilton
  • Michael Smith Architects – Wilton
  • Richard Tomasetti Architects – Wilton

Curated by New Canaan’s Richard Bergmann, and made possible through a generous sponsorship from Titus Built, LLC of West Redding, the exhibit offers a glimpse into the innovative solutions architects are bringing to antique homes.

More importantly, the exhibit demonstrates the craftsmanship and viability of homes built 200 years ago, and explores the historical, cultural and environmental benefits of their preservation.  For more information and updates, visit www.wiltonhistorical.org or call (203) 762-7257,” via Wilton Historical Society.

Wilton Historical Society Co-PresWilton Historical Society Co-Presidents with “Building a Future From the Past” Curator and Lead Sponsor.
From left: Tierney O’Hearn, co-president of the Wilton Historical Society, guest curator Richard Bergmann, exhibit sponsor Jeffrey Titus, and Greg Chann, Society co-president. 

“I am honored to be included with this prestigious group of local professionals who are as passionate as I am about preservation, local history and superb design.  Being part of five generations of family in this area since the early 1900’s, I feel the responsibility to enrich our communities and retain a bit of our local heritage.

We are fortunate to live in an area of the United States that is rich with American history and architecture.  I’m proud to support the Wilton Historical Society in their effort to educate and raise awareness of our historical buildings, architecture and construction materials and methods that have shaped how we live today.”  Jeff Titus

To see more of Titus Built Historical Renovations visit their Historical Renovations Portfolio or Blog here:

Historic Renovations

Historic Renovations Blogs

Join Jeff Titus on Sunday, March 25th, at the Wilton Historical Society and enjoy what the museum is all about . . . preserving, and sharing our heritage.

 Interested in Traditional American Rooms join Christine G. H. Franck’s lecture at the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art in NYC:

WINTERTHUR: TRADITIONAL AMERICAN ROOMS

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28; RECEPTION AT 6:30 PM; LECTURE AT 7:00 PM

winterthur_sm

Titus Built Old Home Renovation Project Featured on d5Remodel

Dudley Front(1)This home was originally built as a three-room saltbox in the late 1700s. It had a kitchen, a parlor and an upstairs bedroom. Folklore has it that during the Revolutionary War, the British came through the area and camped overnight in a hollow below the house. During the skirmish with the Wilton Militia, the British tried to burn the house down. Some of the beams in the basement looked like they were burned; there was definitely a fire in the house, and maybe the British started it.

The new owners of the home knew they wanted to preserve the exterior structure. All three stories of the interior, however, had fallen into disrepair. The home had been remodeled several times over its 200-plus years, leaving it with endless tiny and chopped up rooms. Most additions were added throughout the 19th century.

Titus Built was honored to have the opportunity to renovate such a historical home and has entered this project in the daily5Remodel contest.

d5R-Button[1](1)The July contest on daily5REMODEL showcases beautiful renovations of homes at least 50 years old. Please view our project via the “featured on” button and vote. Voting is open until next Thursday, August 4, at 5 p.m. Votes for us are greatly appreciated.

The contest created many outstanding home renovation project entries. Here’s a snapshot of these projects:  http://daily5remodel.com/index.php?action=snapshots

Home Renovations: Preserve the exterior structure of an antique home while enhancing the interior for today’s living.

Dudley Front(1)

When Jeff Titus bought an antique home in Wilton, CT he knew from the start that he wanted to preserve the exterior structure, but the interior of this 3-story house had fallen into disrepair; been remodeled several times over the 200+ year; and, had endless chopped up tiny rooms. The windows were narrow so they didn’t afford views of the property or let in enough natural light. “Most of the plaster wall were uneven, the front door opened directly into the main staircase to the second floor, and its location didn’t make any sense,” said Jeff.

House before home renovation
Exterior Home Renovations

After Jeff bought the house, he hired a dendrochronology lab to take samples from the fireplace lentil, front wall and floor joists to run scientific dating tests. (Dendrochronology or tree-ring dating is the scientific method of dating based on the analysis of patterns of tree-rings. Dendrochronology can date the time at which tree rings were formed, in many types of wood, to the exact calendar year. From Wikipedia) The lab results were inconclusive; the best likely dating was somewhere between 1740 and 1760, but during this period it was not uncommon to reuse wood from an older home when building a new home. The Wilton Historical Society dated the home’s origin to 1791.

Dining Room Demolition

When remodeling an antique home you never know exactly what you’ll be dealing with until you begin to demolish part of the structure. As Jeff points out, “whenever you open up walls, particularly in an old house, you know you’re going to find things that need to be fixed. But when I ripped out the walls, I found a lot of problems I hadn’t expected”. There was no insulation; the wiring was old and of frayed covered cloth; there were two buried (blocked-in) fireplaces; during one of the previous renovations someone had placed steel beams incorrectly (sideways); and, as with most antique homes the walls and floors were not plumb and there was a lack of space for today’s mechanicals (i.e. duct work).

Central Fireplace Renovation

Although Jeff didn’t go into the project planning to replicate the 18th C details, he did want to design the new space with respect for the home’s history. The beams were sound, and of history of the house, so they were left in place. “It’s hard to replicate this type of detailed post and beam construction today”, Jeff explained. The original center chimney remains the core of the home; although it had to be rebuilt from the top of the first floor up through the roof. And, another noteworthy fireplace in the dining room remained intact. In 1943 John Bransby and his wife purchased the property and carefully restored much of the home. One of the most historically significant additions made to the home is a fireplace decorated with ceramic tiled bas relief’s depicting important events and places in the Bransby’s lives.

Renovation Before and After Fireplace Photos
Wilton Congregational Church C 1790 Tile

Above is a close up of one of the ceramic bas relief tiles from the fireplace. The tile featured is the Wilton Congregational Church c.1790, the third church built in Wilton. The tiles were made by Bransby’s long time friend Svea Kline and were glazed with the ashes from an apple tree on Dudley Road.

In designing the new space with respect for the home’s history, Jeff built bookshelves and closets in nooks and crannies under eaves and stairwells. “I like to use all the space, and the nooks and crannies give the house character” Jeff explained. He also installed bead board, paneled wainscoting and custom molding in many of the rooms.

Kitchen great room remodel
Bathroom remodel leaving antique characters

Walking up the stone walk to the front of the home brings you back in time with its broad expanse of front porch, but inside brings you to the 21st C with a professional kitchen, walk in pantry and mudroom, central air conditioning, central vacuum, a whole house sound system and cable TV/Internet network – A home of nostalgia past with a fusion of 21st C comfort for today’s family.

Basement Wine Cellars

Looking for custom wood products manufactured from reclaimed and salvaged lumber with a focus on antique wood flooring? http://www.appalachianwoods.com