Please advise on traditional craftsman fireplace design

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This topic contains 22 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  Ernie 5 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #63133

    Peter
    Participant

    Hi MyBallard peeps. I’m working on sprucing up the fireplace in my 92 year old Ballard craftsman. The area in front of the fireplace hasn’t been treated so well over the years, and now I’d like to restore it to its original glory. The problem is: I’ve had a really hard time obtaining information on how the front of fireplaces looked 100 years ago in craftsman-style houses, so I don’t know how to make a period-appropriate restoration.

    I know that there are a lot of older craftsman homes in the area, so I was hoping that some of you could share with me any info you’ve got on what this fireplace might have looked like when it was new.

    The fireplace had a granite slab in front of it, which I removed. I found non-original tile and layers of mortar underneath. I removed all this and got down to the floor level. I was hoping that there would be some nice original bricks at the bottom, but what I ended up finding was some sort of stone slab, whit a channel around it where some brick or tile probably once was.

    If you’ve got any suggestions or know what this type of fireplace looked like originally, please share.

    #63142

    jburgh
    Participant

    I simply Googled “Craftsman style fireplace pictures” and hundreds of pictures resulted.

    #63148

    Crownhiller
    Participant

    I’d have to move too much stuff to get a good picture of ours but another good resource might be looking at real estate pix – I’ve seen some houses around here that had similar fireplaces to what our 1929 house has. This one has one pretty close to quite a few I’ve seen in Ballard area:
    http://www.estately.com/listings/info/1480-nw-80th-st

    #63151

    briarrose
    Participant

    The issue you face of course is that most houses that are called craftsman in Seattle by realtors are not, including the one pictured in the post above. Year built is not an indicator. Style is. Still, 1922 is pretty late for a craftsman house.

    Start with Arts and Crafts style and you will get a better idea than you will find in real estate listings.

    #63154

    Shelley
    Moderator

    Peter, the other place to look is for Sears Kit Homes — there is a sears modern home catalog on microfilm at the library. I have a 1916 A&C style house, and when looking for what should have been there (windows, moldings, door hardware and details), that has been a gold mine. I think it is on the pages after each home, they have suggested additional things like fireplaces, bathtubs, and more. I doubt my home was an actual Sears Kit, but I’m guessing there were imitators. My fireplace was covered over in the ’50s with ugly dented (intentionally) copper sheet, and I haven’t gotten around to tearing it off. Somebody also replaced the original hearth with modern bricks and mortar about the same time.

    #63158

    briarrose
    Participant

    Good suggestion Shelly. I just did a search on Sears kits and it appears they also sold other styles, tudors and even a dutch colonial. Amazing that there was still a tudor called a craftsman. Why is that?

    #63160

    Crownhiller
    Participant

    Fully aware the house linked to it’s not A&C style – just an example of a period fireplace and a resource he might not of thought about for ideas. Grew up in a Sears kit house – they sold many many styles actually – ours was a commonly sold “Victorian Box”.

    There are some excellent books on the Arts and Crafts genre. One I enjoyed was “Beyond the Bungalow: Grand Homes in the Arts and Crafts Tradition” – because it encompasses the wider variations that came both within the movement and after.

    #63186

    Chickster
    Participant

    I redid mine a couple years ago, my house is very close to the same age. When I pulled up the “marble” which was actually just polished concrete, the concrete slab you described was there underneath. As far as the rest of it, it was brick that someone had painted at some point. It looked terrible. I used large tiles on the base and tiled over the brick. I also stripped the paint off the mantle and stained/finished the wood. Also don’t forget the inside, a lot of the mortar was gone between the bricks and I replaced it with the heat resistant kind you can get from Sutter home. That and a new screen and it really sets off the living room now.

    #63218

    Allison W
    Participant

    My first house was a 1907 Blackstock kit house. It had box beams and a window seat, but was otherwise fairly Plain Jane. The fireplace was original and was faced in plain brick. If I’d had money for improvements, it would have been refaced. In that case, the original was wholly unremarkable.

    #63219

    Allison W
    Participant

    The frpl in the listing is Tudor in style though the house doesn’t seem to have much of a style at all.

    #63223

    Ernie
    Participant

    Blackstock kit , was that from Blackstock Lumber?

    #63228

    great idea
    Participant

    I’d buy me a blackstock house if it was them.

    they make lovely mouldings.

    #63231

    Allison W
    Participant

    Yes, Ernie. That was the best anyone could figure out. That said, it was just pre-internet and I have never gone back to confirm that factoid.

    #63238

    Ernie
    Participant

    That’s cool. I’ve heard of the Sears house kits, didn’t know there were smaller yards doing it too.

    #63239

    Richy
    Participant

    Allison , just a quick check – Blackstock was started in 1912, maybe a predecessor ?
    Might be an interesting research?

    #63241

    Angeline
    Participant

    So I searched “1922 fireplace” on Google Images and found this blog with interesting info: http://www.laurelhurstcraftsman.com/ The blog is from the Laurelhurst neighborhood in Portland, not here, but they have tons of historical research links. I think their actual house is at least a decade older than yours.

    I like the real estate pictures idea, too. You can plug years into the search function (choose “more options”). You can also put “fireplace” into the Remarks field to narrow further.
    Here’s one from 1926 that looks original: http://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/107-NW-74th-St-98117/home/495228.
    Or this one from 1927: http://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/8415-Fremont-Ave-N-98103/home/300928
    Here is 1925. I am sensing a theme: http://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/2726-30th-Ave-S-98144/home/170688
    Another 1926: http://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/2116-N-35th-St-98103/home/120498

    So, if you want it to look original I’d say you should get some taupe, handmade or handmade-looking tiles and consider built-ins as well! Anything is better than the “Roman Brick” that is covering whatever our 1909 fireplace used to look like.

    #63253

    Allison W
    Participant

    Yes, I was wondering about that. Can’t even remember how it was determined that it might be a Blackstock house. It was definitely a kit house, and looked like it had been put up in a weekend.

    #63319

    Peter
    Participant

    @Shelley, that is a great idea. Which branch of the library do you think has the best selection of microfilm for looking up Sears catalogs?

    #63321

    Peter
    Participant

    Thanks everyone. Great suggestions. I’m seeing a lot of square tile being used. I think I’ll do some looking into the Sears kits to get an idea of what the options were in 1922 and go from there.

    #63330

    Ipomoea
    Participant

    Peter– you’ll want to contact the central branch downtown, as they’re the only branch that might have microfilm and the equipment to view it. You might also check the Seattle Room on the tenth floor, it’s exclusively Seattle history and the staff there might have a good line on where to check for historical photos of houses.
    The local history databases and links might be of help:
    http://www.spl.org/library-collection/articles-and-research/local-history

    You could also contact the library at MOHAI, as they have a spectacular collection of local history:
    http://www.mohai.org/

    MOHAI did an exhibit in 2009 on the Arts and Crafts movement in the Northwest, with an accompanying book:
    http://seattle.bibliocommons.com/item/show/2446629030_the_arts_and_crafts_movement_in_the_pacific_northwest

    #63335

    Sunset Hill Irish
    Participant

    In addition to all the excellent suggestions made here, especially Angeline’s links, there’s a book you might want to check out: “Classic Houses of Seattle: High Style to Vernacular, 1870 – 1950” by Caroline Swope. She’s a local architectural historian with a love for Seattle’s architectural history. Her book contains lots of images, interior and exterior, illustrating the styles she explores as well as a tremendously useful how-to-research-it-yourself section. Although the images are all black-and-white, you can get a sense of shape and design. Because she recognizes that many houses are style blends she also highlights things like transitions from Victorian to Edwardian to Craftsman to Tudor Revival, and so on. She used to give talks at the Sunset Hill Community Center and lead architectural walks around Ballard.

    #63439

    Anonymous
    #63443

    Ernie
    Participant

    Cool link racer, amazing how many of those houses look familiar!

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