Impossible to Reproduce.

This is the front stair in Whitten House. It was added when the 1827 Cape had a full second story and finished attic added around 1850. The large center chimney left little room for a staircase, but the builder managed to create this amazing swirl of a spiral stair in the available space. The hand block-printed Gothic Revival wallpaper, made in France, was installed in 1852.

While perfectly functional (it’s been in use for almost 170 years), this stair doesn’t come close to meeting current code requirements and could not be built today. Chapter 5 of Restoring Your Historic House, The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners is titled “Bureaucrats You’ll Meet.” Building Permits, Historic Preservation Certificates, utility company requirements, etc. are explored and explained. Half the battle is knowing what to expect and being well prepared.

A tip from the book… avoid tearing out anything that can’t be rebuilt under current code. Find a way to repair it, not replace it, and it is unlikely you will have to bring it up to code for residential use. Want more tips? Order your copy today and be among the first to read them!

Want to shop local? Ask your favorite bookstore to contact their W.W. Norton rep to order copies.

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