We weren’t in the door five minutes before I turned to my wife and said, “We have to buy this house.” The front porch was falling in, the electrical didn’t work, the condition was awful, but every original window, door, piece of hardware, and light fixture was still there. Judy and I hadn’t even been looking for a house, but we signed the contract that night.
I’m a contractor and, from time to time, a real estate agent will call me up and say, “Will you come by and look at this house? I don’t know if it’s worth working with.”
That’s what happened that day, and knowing it was an old house, I brought Judy along. I’d have been in trouble if I hadn’t, as she’s an avid preservationist. I’m Sarasota born and bred and know all about the housing stock in this area of Florida, so when I first drove by and saw this American foursquare, in a landmarked part of town with not an awning or sliding door in sight, I knew we’d be tempted.
Shown: Following ghost marks, the couple re-created the original 21-inch-high porch railing—which matches the scale of the second story—though inspectors would have preferred one 36 inches high for safety.