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Wednesday, September 16,2009

Eye candy! of the week

by Megan Peters

Property: 301 Sycamore St., 302 Sycamore St., Lansing
Owner: 301, Michael and Susan Wey; 302, Stephanie and William Whitbeck
Assessed: 301, $78,300; 302, $84,100


Architecture critic Amanda Harrell-Seyburn says: Restoring an old house can be immensely rewarding and an asset to the community. This collection of houses at the intersection of Ionia and Sycamore streets have successfully been restored with careful consideration for the style, modifications to the original structure, and period of the house.


The houses of Sycamore and Ionia streets evade masculine solidity with a soft sense of femininity in stained glass portals and curvaceous arches.


“You learn that you don’t own the house, you are the caretaker, and all of a sudden you realize you have a sort of person you take care of. I am really related to this house,” said Stephanie Whitbeck, owner of 302 Sycamore St.


— Megan Peters


Before embarking on a restoration project, a little groundwork must be done to successfully restore a home to its original beauty. One of the most common errors in a restoration project is not doing the necessary research prior to restoration. Restoration can be a rewarding and arduous task. To ensure a successful restoration project with minimum setbacks, an architectural investigation must be done and the expertise of an architect consulted.

Do: an architectural investigation. The most important step before restoring a house is to do your research. This will ensure that the restoration process is done with historical accuracy and prevents errors that will be costly in time and money to the restoration. The following are the minimum questions that should be investigated before embarking on a restoration project.
— How old is the house? This is the most essential piece of research before starting a restoration project. The age of the house will determine the entire restoration process.
— What style is it? Another essential bit of knowledge — if the house has had any additions or changes, consult archives for photographs that might give clues to its original style. If modifications such as decorative detailing, or porches have been added in another style, they should not necessarily be removed if they work well with the house.
— Is it custom built or it is it a mail order kit home? If your house is a kit-home, you will be able to save time and money. Many kit-homes are well archived and used stock features that you can find at architectural salvage companies or are even still being mass produced today.
— Find historic building plans: This is much easier if your house is a kit-home, however consult local archives for floor plans.

Do: Find an architect: Seeking the expertise of an architect early in the restoration process will ensure that your restoration is successful and will save you and time and money.
— Find a local Architect: A local architect is best for a restoration project because they are familiar with the character of the community and the neighborhood. A local architect will have more access to local archives and resources for ensuring the accuracy of the restoration.
— Find a recommended architect: Check with a local historical society or historic zoning board for an architect they recommend. In Lansing, you can contact the Historical Society of Greater Lansing.

Don't: Add architectural details that are not original to the house. Consult photographs and restore the details that exist or are missing. Adding details that are not original to the house can overwhelm the original design and make the house appear comical.

Don't: cut corners in the restoration process by making short-term decisions. The point of the restoration is to restore the original beauty and character of the house so that it may be enjoyed for years to come. Short-term solutions, such as using inferior materials, may beautify the house now but compromise the spirit of the restoration later.


“Eye candy of the Week," our weekly look at some of the nicer properties in Lansing. It rotates each with Eyesore of the Week. If you have a suggestion, please e-mail eye@lansingcitypulse.com or call Neal McNamara at 371-5600 ex. 17.

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