As summer sinks below the horizon and the cold times begin their sneaky but inescapable creep, I’ve really got to figure out what to do about the front door surround. Figuring out how to replace the missing door itself is simply too much, so I’m putting that off for some distant future. But I’ve been moving ever so slowly through trying to restore what the front door region once looked like. This is what’s been facing the street for many years now:
Obviously, that’s a replacement door, and the right side is a cover-up.
Looking at the inside, I had a naive hope that the cover-up hid a narrow door that could be opened sometimes and latched other times. Though really, that’s not what the inside suggests. I guess I hoped that middle piece of wood was added later. But the alligatoring of the shellac is consistent with the rest of the wood trim.
When we started removing the aluminum cover-up outside, here’s what we found, which indicates it was not two doors but a door and a stationary light—and also something chopped off above:
After removing all the aluminum, we have this:
So some detail was chopped off at the top and the bottom of the wood divider.
Having worked on an old house with old paint and old problems for 8 years now, I understand the urge to cover it up and have everything seem nice. But why oh why couldn’t they have simply covered up? Wasn’t it more difficult to chop off than to cover up? I mean, was it ornate and huge in profile? I really doubt it, considering the rest of the house. Now I need to figure out what’s appropriate for the area and determine how I can add it. Any ideas? I need to dig through my 1910 Sears catalog.
So I’ve stripped off all the old paint and found oak underneath:
It took a few weeks to strip all the paint. It was kind of easy because the bottom coat seems to have been shellac. But also kind of hard because the finish was very weathered and had been painted over with brown paint and several coats of other colors, some of them very resistant to removal. Now I am working on how to showcase and preserve the oak for Chicago weather.
And I still have to pry off all the old caulk. But wow it’s going to look so much better when I’m done—in 7 years or so …