Built on a Foundation of Stone, Old and New

A grand porch must have grand supports.


Solid cement pilings, partially buried, and the visible portions clad in the very same stone pieces that made up the original porch’s buried pilings, excavated to make way for the new. The same local limestone makes up the house’s foundation; one bit of natural material that didn’t escape the mid-20th-century paintbrush, sadly.


The same ancient stone is used in hundreds, if not thousands, of structures in this part of the city, including the walls of what’s reputed to be the oldest extant house in St. Paul, located on W 7th St. It’s now in the courtyard of a restaurant.


The other completed limestone-clad piling with the roughed in pillar support on top.


One of the pillar supports by the stairs. You can see here how the bit of floor leading to the stairs extends beyond the general front line of the porch, adding square footage and more opportunity for pillars. The more pillars the better, obviously!


Although most of it is gone, there are a few bits of the porch-just-removed that are staying, mainly because they don’t interfere with the new construction, and are not worth the trouble of getting rid of. One such are the porch supports, that bit of cement block you can see through the floor joists here.


Another, surprisingly, are the old porch stairs. Cast out of solid cement and made to last, you’d need a jackhammer to remove them.


Why bother when they fit so nicely under the new design? Also, as Bill says, it’s something for future owners and renovators to get excited about when they find them. It’s important to leave a legacy.


You can see that the support structures that will be hidden are plain cement block, not nearly as attractive as those that will be exposed, but equally strong.

There’s something appealing about that last picture. Harmony in the chaos of construction. Permanent and temporary elements working together to create a solid, beautiful final product. And a domestic construction site on an autumn day with sunny summer still reflected in the windows.

Published in: on September 25, 2014 at 2:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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