By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(Jan. 10, 2019) One of the older homes in downtown Berlin, on 101 South Main Street and said to be a “sister house” to the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum, will get a restored, two-story front porch after earning unanimous approval from the town’s Historic District Commission last Wednesday.
The highly visible home is on the corner of Main and Tripoli streets, where downtown traffic turns toward Stephen Decatur Park. Large boxwoods that reach the second-floor foundation flank the porch, which looks onto Main Street.
Nate Reister of the Burley Building Company, which was hired to do the work, said the home was built in 1836. According to Reister, the first story of the porch is original to the home and the second story was likely added during the 1940s.
He said water damage over the years had cracked the foundation and the porch was now “pretty close to falling in on itself.”
“Our goal is to kind of salvage the two-story porch, maintain the roofline the way it is, [and] add a little architectural detail,” he said, adding those details would be closer to the period of the home’s original construction date.
“We’re leaving the upper roofline … but then we’re going to redo pretty much everything from there down,” he continued. “We’ve been doing some research. I’ve looked at columns and things we can get that are fairly similar to the [original] style.”
Reister added he and the homeowner, Mark Harris, “don’t really want to mess with the boxwoods” and none of the windows would be replaced.
“The second-floor porch kind of gives the house a view of Main Street, because the boxwoods pretty much block it all out. So, it’s a handy porch to have,” Reister said.
Commission members said they were impressed by what they saw in the plans.
“It will be nice to see that home come back to the way it should be looking and hasn’t for years,” Mary Moore said. “It’s such a focal point [in the town].”
“This is going to make a huge improvement,” Laura Stearns added.
Norman Bunting said he couldn’t wait to see the finished product.
“I’m glad to see this house getting some attention. It’s well deserved,” he said.
Harris said it was his first old home, and Moore compared owning a historic house to having another child to care for.
“It’s just like adopting a child. We have four children and we always refer to our house … like it’s our fifth child,” she said. “Certainly, there’s nothing like it.”
She added the best approach to caring for an older home was twofold: using quality materials and tackling renovations “a little bit at a time and doing it right the first time.”
“It makes such a difference,” she said.