Master restorer, Eric LaVelle writes delightful articles about his work, which includes rehabilitating old buildings & rescuing antique machinery that he uses in his rehab work. He has graciously allowed me to include his stories in my blog. They include technical terms many of you (that includes my own self!) don’t understand, so I am including a GLOSSARY here for you so that you can most easily follow the bouncing ball. I am going to put it in alpha order because I am guessing that you’ll find these terms repeated in more than 1 post.
Each article also has links to videos about the machines that are discussed. I have tried to find videos that show the old machines & the tasks each on is able to perform.
Should I have missed any words, drop me a line & I will include them.
ERIC’S ANTIQUE MACHINES GLOSSARY
A bar connected to the center of a circular object such as a wheel that allow sit to turn especially one connecting two wheels of a vehicle.
A bearing is a device that supports, guides, & reduces the friction of motion between fixed & moving machine parts.
Babbitt bearings are made of certain types of alloys, which are melted down & cast to produce the bearing surface.
A power saw that uses a long blade loop, like a ribbon, stretched between two wheels. The blade continually rotates along with the wheels. Take a look at the video to see what it can do.
A machine or plant with power-driven machines for sawing logs into rough-squared sections or into planks and boards. A mill may be equipped with machines for finishing processes for decorative items.
Millwork is historically any wood mill produced decorative (rather than structural) materials used in building construction.
It is often is in a deteriorated condition from the elements & must be repaired, recreated.
The phase wires are the hot wires used in an electrical power system.
The majority of phase converters are used to produce three-phase electric power from a single-phase source, thus allowing the operation of three-phase equipment at a site that only has single-phase electrical service.
Three-phase electric motor
A three-phase electric motor contains four wires (three hot wires and one neutral wire) and uses three alternating currents of the same frequency.
Eric LaVelle of Belleville, Illinois, is a master historic preservationist but takes it a step further. In addition to performing masterful work on houses that are extremely deteriorated, dangerous, ornate & enormous, he finds, salvages & repairs the antique construction machinery with which he works his magic.
Eric was kind enough to allow me to publish his fascinating & inspiring story, which starts with his childhood interest in old houses, his own first old house, & the trials & tribulations of collecting massive machines & moving them to his workshop- without heavy lifting equipment!
I have created YouTube playlists to show you what these machines do. Some of them I was able to find in their antique versions & some, only modern, but they allow you to see how they would be useful in historic preservation work.
I have also created a GLOSSARY. The words in the GLOSSARY are linked in the text. If you see any words here that you don’t understand, let me know & I will add it.
THE STORY OF ERIC LAVELLE, HISTORIC PRESERVATIONIST EXTRAORDINAIRE
As a child, I was fascinated with 19th century houses, but it wasn’t until 1996 that I bought and lived in one. My wife and I moved into an 1880’s two story house in a small town. Most of the interior woodwork was intact, as were the ornate front and back doors.
I was fascinated with the woodwork, and wanted to be able to reproduce it, but I had no idea how they had done it, or the equipment they used to do it. I began reading Old House Journal and Old House Interior magazines to learn more about these houses, and how to restore them. The internet was new to me, and there wasn’t a great deal of helpful information on it at the time.
In order to gain the skills to reproduce this millwork, I bought a few small, second hand machines at local auctions. My budget then was extremely small, so in order to get lumber, I resorted to salvaging it from buildings being torn down. The largest of these salvage projects was a dairy barn made mostly of oak and hickory, about 35’x50′ in size, and 30-40ft tall. I spent some time analyzing that structure, and ended up disassembling it from the top down, in a manner that was the reverse of how it was built. Some of my friends helped me do it. It was a physically punishing and dangerous job. To haul the barn lumber, the farmer sold me a 16ft double axle trailer to haul away the lumber.
It was 2001, and I had mountains of salvaged lumber, so I needed machines to work with it. My budget was still extremely small, and I could only look at the catalogs of the larger modern machinery with longing. I simply wasn’t ever going to be to afford a shop full of those machines. I tried working some of the wood with hand tools, but found it to be much more frustrating than inspiring. My small machines would simply burn up doing any serious work.
THE FIRST MACHINE
In 2002, I stopped crying over the new machines I couldn’t afford when I got on Ebay and found very old machines for sale for very little money. The first thing I decided I needed was a large bandsaw to resaw barn timbers. This one was 36″, much larger than those I saw in the catalogs. You can see videos of an antique bandsaw & a new ones in action, here. After having the high bid, I set out on a 4 hour drive to pick up the machine with my van and trailer. My Dad went with me. I filled the gas tank just before leaving, which took us all the way there with some gas to spare.
I had never seen a 36″ bandsaw. I was shocked at the size of it. It was in a machine shop, and they were using it to saw aluminum. They loaded it with a forklift, but they didn’t really know what they were doing, and tried to lift it by the table, which promptly cracked. I didn’t know enough to tell them any different. It was loaded sideways to the wind, and had some plywood guards built onto it, so it caught wind like a giant sail. Paying little attention, I filled the gas tank on the way out of town, figuring we’d have plenty to get home. I hadn’t even bothered to watch the gas gauge when we ran out of gas on the interstate about 30 miles short of making it home. It was then that I learned lesson #1: a loaded trailer, especially with an enormous amount of wind drag, burns a lot more gas than an unloaded one.
After hitch hiking to the gas station and filling up, we got the saw home safely. As I was going in and out of the driveway, there was a dip in the pavement, and I bent the cross bar that held the jack on the trailer. I drove to a local welding shop where they could cut it out and weld a new piece in. The giant saw was still on the trailer. The owner of the shop looked at it and started talking about “3 phase motor” and something called “babbitt bearings”. I had no idea what those were, so I just nodded my head, and looked them up later. These would lead to the development of skill#2: building a phase converter, and skill #3: pouring babbitt bearings.
We had just bought another house with a garage, and were moving there, so I wanted to unload the saw at that location. I had no idea how to move a 1500lb saw without any power equipment. This would require skill #1: rigging heavy machinery with hand tools. My Dad showed me that I could use my 48″ crowbar, the same bar I used to disassemble the barn, to slowly inch the saw off the trailer. It took me a very long time to move it that way. Since it was taller than the garage door, and I didn’t know how easy it was to remove the top wheel, I hooked a chain around the top of it, which was attached to the framing above the garage door, and tipped the saw so it was leaning into the opening of the door. I then stood it up by prying the base forward, and the saw stood up inside the garage.
At this point I had a long way to go. I still didn’t know how they made the millwork in my first house, and I didn’t have electricity in the garage, which was 130ft from the house.
This is only the first machine & the first episode of the story of Eric LaVelle, historic preservationist extraordinaire. Follow along with me as we see him figure out how to make impossible things work.
These videos show & tell the story of bungalow character defining features, the architectural bits & pieces that separate a bungalow from other houses. They are the features that you expect to see on a bungalow that has been well-cared for, or authentically restored. They are a good guide in planning & performing your own restoration.
The term bungalow refers to the general shape of a building, not its style. In fact, one of the best things about them is that they were built in a variety of styles. This is why you can drive down the street of a bungalow neighborhood & each house is charmingly unique, inspired by a different style from Swiss Chalet to Victorian to Japanesque to Tudor.
I chose this format of conveying this information because it allows you to walk around & through a bungalow, rather than seeing bits of us out of context. I have chosen these particular ones because they contain great information that will help you know a bungalow when you see one, & will hopefully answer the question, “Is my house a bungalow?”
Enjoy the videos!
THE VIDEOS- Bungalow Character Defining Features
“Building with History” – Arts and Crafts Era Bungalow House (6:02)
Brent trots us through a brief look at the history of the Arts & Crafts Movement, but spends most of his time discussing bungalow defining features. He shows us some bee-you-ti-ful examples of bungalows.
Building & Brews: Arts and Crafts Era (1:08)
A fascinating, in depth look at the Arts & Crafts Movement.
How this house took over the US (8:20)
The marketing of the bungalow. An amusing story of how the style made a lotta $$$ for a lotta folks.
Chicago Bungalows: The History and Top Facts (7:35)
The Bloom Group-Keller Williams
The history & details of the adorable style.
If you want to read more about these dear houses, visit my article here.
Bungalow Heaven, a neighborhood of 800+ historic homes in Pasadena, CA, truly is a paradise. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the area was built between 1900 & 1930 & designated in 1989, as a local landmark district. Thankfully, this status has been instrumental in protecting it from the pop design of HGTV.
I discovered Bungalow Heaven when I lived in Pasadena. Though occupying only 6 blocks by 6 blocks, entering its streets, you are completely immersed in the period. Even the historic vibe of the whole, beautiful city doesn’t smoothly ease you into this perfectly preserved jewel box of a neighborhood. Holy DeLorean, it’s a time machine!
Thanks for much of this wonder can be given to The Bungalow Heaven Neighborhood Association. BHNA is a crackerjack, non-profit organization of volunteers dedicated to the preservation of the homes & enhancing the lifestyle of its district. When we shakily formed our first home tour committee in nearby Eagle Rock, the historic community where I lived to the west, it was suggested that we volunteer as docents for the BH tour so we could learn what to do. I had been on their tour several times & had admired it from my event producer’s eye, but due to being dazzled by the charming bungalows, I hadn’t really paid much attention to the workings of the tour machine.
Like the rest of the organization, it was finely-tuned & well-oiled. The tour, only one of the group’s many activities, is a massive undertaking due to the amount of volunteer coordination & the directing of the hoards of attendees. They also have to ensure the protection & comfort of the homeowners, so each task is clearly delineated & drilled in the weeks before the tour. It was great to receive this training & experience & provided us with the template that we used to form our own fledgling committee.
My wood flooring company was privileged to restore many of floors in Bungalow Heaven. Please understand that we had moved from a bungalow neighborhood in Phoenix, but we had never experienced such wonders as we saw here. I was introduced to clinker brick, to Arroyo rock & I was treated to my first inglenook in BH, in the home of a flooring customer. My husband requested that I be given a tour of the home & they graciously agreed. I was enchanted. When I learned about their yearly home tour, I was thrilled to be able to enter these homes that were so carefully restored & preserved, beautifully furnished, with most decorated in the A&C style.
WHAT MAKES BUNGALOW HEAVEN SO SPECIAL?
Bungalow Heaven is the poster child for the Arts & Crafts Movement. Though the Movement’s origins are in England, both its aesthetic & its philosophy were brought to the United States in the early 1900’s & California heartily embraced them.
The natural materials revered by the Movement are abundant in the state. In the forests grew acres of fir, oak, redwood & Ponderosa pine providing lumber for building. California’s mild climate lent itself to the idea of living with nature, allowing houses to have many windows & sleeping porches in which to spend hot summer nights.
The nearby Arroyo Seco, Spanish for “dry gulch” runs 8 miles through Pasadena & provided beautiful stone for building & adorning houses. Pasadena’s beautiful topography, rich soil & mild weather provided the perfect setting in which lush vegetation flourished.
Pasadena spawned & inspired the applied artistry of people such as The Greene Brothers, who designed the Gamble House to enhance the setting & honored the natural environment in every detail. The extraordinary work of Pasadena resident, Ernest Batchelder, tile-maker, is seen in many homes in the neighborhood.
Additionally, the modest homes of Bungalow Heaven were within the reach of the working class. People of moderate means could afford to live in a beautiful city with views of the San Gabriel Mountains, enjoy well-built homes with a variety of attractive details & friendly front porches, & had the added benefit of being near transportation, commerce & job opportunities.
This wonder, a piece of Pasadena that is Bungalow Heaven, is an amalgamation of the history, the homes & the neighborhood spirit. Read about it in this informative book, view it on a driving tour or, catch their spring home tour!
TIP: Read about other preservation groups holding wonderful events in Southern California, click, HERE!
Brothers Charles & Henry Greene can be understood as men through the study of their Arts & Crafts architecture. As with all artists, their creations were born of their unique viewpoints of life, tempered by their educations, their personal relationships & professional experiences, & the cultures & technologies of their times.
At the same time, each creative expression contributes to the personal evolution of the individual. You can see this clearly in studying the works of any artist over their lifetime. The viewpoint does not remain stagnant, as evidenced by the often radical changes in style over the course of the artist’s career.
For an architect the quantity of these in-flowed influences is magnified by their medium- clients, contractors, topography, tradespeople, materials, climate & cost overruns, oh my! Each of these leave their mark on the soul.
These videos are about the most well-known works of the Greene’s. I believe this medium with their virtual, docented tours to be the next best way of experiencing & understanding any piece of architecture. They tell the story of the Brothers Greene through the magnificent Arts & Crafts architecture that they designed.
THE VIDEOS- Charles & Henry Green Arts & Crafts architecture
Though I am an admirer of the Brothers Greene, I am not an expert, nor a scholar, nor do I have sophisticated video capabilities so I prefer to let them do the teaching & they do it exceedingly well.
Arts & Crafts architecture of Greene & Greene including The Gamble House, CALIFORNIA episode (3:03)
Craft in America
A short video with some beautiful shots expressing how the California lifestyle influenced the design of the house.
A Portal – the Gamble House front door (9:50)
The Gamble House x
Jennifer Trotoux, Director of Collections & Interpretation, gives an overview of the artistry and construction of the front door of the Gamble House. Wherever you are, you will be transported to the entry of the house & learn so much about the design & the crafting of this beautiful portal.
The Thorson House Tour- A Greene & Greene Ultimate Bungalow (19:16)
The Wood Whisperer
A close look at the many refined & delicate details through which the Brothers Greene, took items of utility & made them things of beauty, including their version of recessed lighting!
Greene & Greene’s Bungalow for Robert Blacker (10:44)
A short history of the Greene Brothers & some images of the Blacker House.
Two Sides of the Pacific: Japan and the Architecture of Greene & Greene (1:18:15)
Looking at Japan through the lens of the Brothers Greene, a fascinating talk by Edward R. Bosley, Executive Director of The Gamble House on the influence of Japanese design on Charles & Henry & the reception of their work in Japan.
I invite you all to visit the Gamble House at your earliest opportunity. Sign up for their mailing list so you can stay informed of their wonderful array of activities.
“Bungalow Terrace [in Hyde Park, Tampa, Florida] was developed by Alfred Swann and Eugene Holtsinger [major developers in South Tampa] on what was Morrison Grove in 1913. The Bungalow Style home was modeled after the bungalows in California because of the low cost, adaptability, craftsmanship and low maintenance.
The first home was built in 1913 at a cost of $4,500 including the land. In 1916, a Pergola (bougainvillea) was built that extended from the south end to the north end of the terrace. The pergola was ten feet high and extended 345 feet with sitting benches and individual covered archways to each bungalow. In 1924, due to severe rot and deterioration the pergola was removed. Known for its many resident writers through the year including the best-selling author, Alec Waugh, this development consists of 19 homes which share a common sidewalk.”
ENTERING THE COURT
So, here I am on a balmy winter day, getting ready to enter Hyde Park’s Bungalow Terrace.
My first adventure into a bungalow court was visiting an interior designer, specializing in Arts & Crafts, in L.A. Her little house was a mini-me of my bungalow, inside & out. It was fascinating. I was never able to learn who the architect of my house, was, nor for the court. I’m still kinda upset by it.
Bungalow courts originated in Pasadena California, & their intelligent, aesthetic & practical design motivated Pasadena’s City Council to require that all multi-family units be built around a landscaped courtyard. Great idea! And an idea easy to import to Florida, another state enjoying massive growth & needing housing. A brilliant model, developers today would be wise to mimic it to solve today’s housing shortage & to satisfy people’s need for green space & for community.
This court is in South Tampa, Florida in the neighborhood of Hyde Park. It covers a whole suburban block. Platted in 1916, the first residents began moving in in 1920. The variety of architecture featured is totally charming.
DESCRIPTION OF CHARACTERISTICS
Here’s an airplane bungalow gem on our tour of Bungalow Terrace, in Hyde Park, Tampa Florida. You can see the care that went into designing this court by the use of multiple materials- stout red brick columns, use of both shingles & lap siding, paired outriggers, and multiple window styles.
Though the first ones in the court were built in 1913, the records show that this one was not built until 1939.
DESCRIPTION OF CHARACTERISTICS
I have a huge weakness for unusual columns, particularly when paired with such a large overhang. I do love chunky ones, but I especially like it that the developer of this bungalow court in Tampa, Florida took a few minutes to say, “Let’s not make little houses that look all the same,” half a century before Pete Seeger sang about suburban houses made of tick-tacky.
DESCRIPTION OF CHARACTERISTICS
This cute little airplane bungalow, features a sleeping porch with a 360 degree panoramic view, shingle siding (unfortunately painted) & limerock columns & a big honkin’ stone chimney!
Its lot size is 38×63 & the house itself, with 2 bedrooms & 2 baths & the house is 1,360 sq ft. Small but packed with great architectural features!
DESCRIPTION OF CHARACTERISTICS
Once again, the original developers used some great detail in this smaller (1,236 sq. ft.) airplane bungalow home in Bungalow Terrace in Hyde Park, Tampa, Florida. The bold paint job emphasizes the structural elements of the roof overhang.
DESCRIPTION OF CHARACTERISTICS
A bungalow court triplex converted from a single family home, in Bungalow Terrace, Hyde Park, Tampa, Florida.
Built in 1916, like several of the others, it has a pop-up sleeping porch & wonderful stone columns & chimney. Unfortunately, what appears to have originally been an open porch has been closed in.
Once again, the original developers used some great detail in this smaller (1,236 sq. ft.) airplane bungalow home in Bungalow Terrace. The bold paint job emphasizes the structural elements of the roof overhang.
DESCRIPTION OF CHARACTERISTICS
This is another of the delightful homes in the Hyde Park Bungalow Terrace neighborhood. The composition of the front facade is wonderfully balanced with multiple front facing gables that pull the eyes from shape to shape & detail to detail.
Developed over several decades, the neighborhood of Hyde Park in which the court is located, was built as an upscale district with a variety of architectural styles. Today it is a beautiful example of how historic preservation can benefit a community, financially, aesthetically & culturally.
BUNGALOW TERRACE LONG AGO
Burgert Brothers was Tampa’s leading commercial photographic firm from 1917 to the early 1960s. Established by brothers Al & Jean, the studio focused primarily on photographing the Tampa Bay & surrounding areas. We are indeed fortunate to have the Burgert Brothers’ photographs which tell the tale of Tampa’s development from small town to major city. I made good use of them in the film I produced for my Tampa bungalow neighborhood.
I hope that you have the opportunity to visit this charming community, looking very much like the historic image above, yourself some day.
TIP: To learn more about the value of preservation, visit my page HERE!