On the (Re)Making of a Tudor…Part II

700 E. Mitchell roof line, complements of Google Earth.
700 E. Mitchell Avenue roof line, compliments of Google Earth.

While Tudor Revival houses are very desirable and easily fit with today’s lifestyles, sometimes the modern homeowner could use a little extra something–like a couple of extra rooms, or maybe a garage…Enter the addition. From a preservation perspective, any expansion or major alteration to an historic house is tricky because it has the potential to damage or even destroy the original building’s special historic character. Enter the term “sensitive addition”.

Side view of the addition at 700 E. Mitchell Avenue
Side view of the addition at 700 E. Mitchell Avenue

Built in 1930, our Tudor Revival listing at  700 E. Mitchell Avenue (MLS #1452010), does, in fact, have an addition built by the current owner that not only expanded the kitchen area, but added a sizable family room, solarium, and a 3-car garage–upping the home’s total square footage (per the Hamilton County Auditor) to 3,630. Are you wondering if it is an historically-sensitive addition?

The National Park Service outlines 3 main points to ensure a successful sensitive addition in New Exterior Additions to Historic Buildings: Preservation Concerns (NPS Preservation Brief #14). These are:

1) Preserve the historic character and integrity of the property;

2) Protect the historical significance by making a visual distinction between old and new; and

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700 E. Mitchell showing the location of the addition

3) Preserve significant historic materials and features.

The success of an historically-sensitive addition also depends on its relationship to the main body of the house:

Is the addition compatible with the home’s historic scale, mass (or basic shape), and form?

The family room addition, with vaulted ceiling and window alcove.
The family room, which features a vaulted ceiling and window alcove.

Typically, a sensitive addition is subordinate to the main body of the house. This can be achieved in a variety of ways–by reducing the scale of the addition, recessing the addition from the front of the house, placing it in a secondary position (i.e., around back), or by using simpler materials so it’s not as “fancy”.

700 E. Mitchell Avenue--note where the stucco-faced addition meets the original brick exterior walls of the home
700 E. Mitchell Avenue–note where the stucco-faced addition meets the original brick exterior walls of the home

What also helps an addition to fit is if there is continuity in the shape of parts of the house and the addition that share the same purpose. Windows, for example, look best if they are similar in both style and shape to the originals. Keeping the roof pitch the same is also a good way to provide unity too.

Looking at the addition to 700 E. Mitchell Avenue, the roof pitch, windows, and exterior facade are well in keeping with stylistic elements of the Tudor Revival style and similar in how they were used on the original structure. Viewed from the side, the addition is of smaller scale then the original building, while the wholly stuccoed facade–versus the use of brick on the lower portion, for example–helps to preserve the visual distinction between old and new. On the interior, the vaulted family room with exposed beam, and rounded arch window alcove and open windows to the solarium, are also very nice touches that maintain Tudor continuity. Overall, a high degree of historical sensitivity is present…the owner certainly made excellent design choices!

Detailing around the solarium windows
Detailing around the solarium windows
The solarium
The solarium