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Labor of Love on Stratford Court
October 2008 | by Sharon Hilliard

The house at 13th and Stratford Court is home to many of Carl’s happiest memories. It’s the home his grandfather bought in 1928. The home his mother grew up in. And the home where Carl spent much of his youth, visiting his grandparents.

When Carl’s grandfather passed away in 1955, the home was sold. Almost 40 years later, it came back on the market and we jumped at the chance to purchase it. During our remodel of our Crest Road home, we lived in the old house, experiencing its inadequacies. Two years ago, we undertook a simple remodeling of the old homestead to add a bedroom closet, excavate a small basement and enlarge the kitchen.

But when the basement excavation was underway, the unreinforced masonry chimney collapsed.  When the west kitchen wall was demolished, we discovered the framing was not securely connected to the structure. It was supported only by old plaster! When we removed some “false” beams in the living room, the ceiling sagged. 

At this point, we were well into the project. So, out with the old and in with the new, but we wanted to be sure to keep the size and feel of the original Spanish-style home. We restored the original wood floors and installed light fixtures from the 1920s inside and out. We rebuilt the garage that wood rot and termites had damaged; replumbed, rewired and replastered every interior wall; added insulation; and installed 42 solar panels, which are tucked below the parapet on the flat roof to remain virtually invisible from the street. (So far we have received no billing for electricity, only for the gas we use.)

For the finishing touch to our remodel, we had the patios, sidewalk and driveway tiled in a beautiful reproduction of the Malibu tile pattern popular in the 1920s. Every inch of our Stratford Court home is a loving testimony to what you can do with skilled help, a flexible budget and a sense of humor about discovering what you can’t expect and couldn’t imagine.



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