In the warmer, yet still refreshing temperatures of this week, I have walked more often than usual. With trees not yet leafed out and in spite of early cherry blossoms, architectural details of houses are easy to admire.
Certainly, the quality and variety of architecture in Roland Park are outstanding.
Slightly troubling, however, is the erosion of some architectural details. Many second-floor porches are losing their railings. Others have new railings of much taller, much thicker, much thinner or much different design.
True, in an era of central air conditioning, few owners sit out on second-floor porches. Porch railings are tedious and expensive to paint, particularly after layers of paint have accumulated over the years. Well-maintained original railings, however, rarely rot and add scale and balance to the homes, as well as safety.
The many doors opening to second-floor roofs show just how many porches have lost their railings. Among them are many in Plat 2, where curvaceous spindles once graced porches and balconies, especially those designed by Ellicott and Emmert. One entire house designed by them at 106 Ridgewood, was demolished in the 1930’s. Another nearby home years ago eliminated its second-floor and first-floor porch.
Admirably, in its renovation and installation of a new roof, St. David’s Church has preserved the Ellicott and Emmert’s architectural integrity of its second-floor spindles.
Sadly, my parents eliminated the railings on our second floor porch. Persistent leaks occurred where the posts met the roof. In my youthful ignorance, when I moved home, I had the hauler take the railings that had been stored in the garage. Now, with a new rubber roof, I am hoping that we can figure a way to restore reproduction railings to that porch.
First, however, we must tackle some long-neglected interior details, like the medieval original kitchen and shower-less bathrooms.