Click on the pictures below for details, historic information, and updates on the progress of our project house.
530 S. Court tour information
When was this house
built, and what style is it? To be honest, we don’t know for sure when it was built!
However, by studying the development of Medina, how the City grew, by checking
old plat maps, and using the clues in the existing architectural details, we
can make an educated guess that the house was built around 1875-1880, in a
style known as “Folk Victorian”. We get that date based on the simple floor
plan, the decorative gingerbread in the front and side exterior roof gables,
the decorative elements on the side porch, and the very basic decorative case
work on the interior.
Who built this house? That’s another mystery of 530 S. Court Street.
Unfortunately, the building records from the 1870’s no longer exist, so we
don’t know who built it. We can piece together an ownership history, using
information from the Medina Gazette and City directories. The earliest record,
from 1912, records the house as the home of O.E. Brooks, a horse trainer. In
1937, the house was sold to T.V. Foskett, a former Mayor of Medina (1934-37).
The house was sold in 1938 by Foskett (and advertised as 7 room house, fine
lot) and then sold again in 1947 (for sale; fairly good, 7 rooms, slate roof,
deep lot, fine location, barn, best of neighbors, $8,500). This old house has
had at least 15 owners.
Did the house ever
have a front porch? Yes, this house at one time did have a front porch. The
porch was removed in the mid 1960’s due to some structural concerns. We haven’t
found an original photograph of the porch to copy, but we can read the clues on
the house to learn the layout and dimensions. If you look at the vertical trim
boards on the front bay window, you can see where the wood was patched after
the porch header was removed, just above the 1st floor windows. Look a little
higher under the 2nd floor windows, and you can see the nails that once held
the roof flashing in place. Finally, an old plat map image confirms the layout.
Further clues include the lack of windows in the front foundation.
Why is the bathroom
downstairs, and why is that door so short? When this house was first built, it did not have indoor
sanitary plumbing, but instead would have had an outhouse. The bathroom we see
today was most likely the pantry for the original kitchen. When this bathroom
was installed around 1900, the owners carved out what space they could spare,
and that which was closest to the plumbing. Was the original woman of the house
short? Did the owners use a door from a former closet? We’ll never know for
sure, but this bathroom will be renovated and the simple claw-foot tub will be
restored as part of the current project
Why is this floor
patched? In the late 19th century, most homes did not have central
heat, and had to use wood or coal burning fireplaces to provide warmth. This
patch in the floorshows us where the
original fireplace was located. An owner during the 1950’s had a fear of fire,
so she had the tiles, mantel, and hearth completely removed and patched the
floor with new wood. Step back and imagine a full fireplace and mantel on that
wall, and also imagine two wooden entry doors leading into the front parlor. If
those elements were still intact, suddenly the room becomes much less flexible
in use, and would have left virtually no open wall space for furniture. This
would have worked well in 1880, because furniture was not placed against the
wall, but rather inhabited the space of the room.
Why are there lines
in the woodwork? In the Victorian era, even the most simple houses had
decorative elements. While this house is very basic, if you look closely,
you’ll notice decorative iron hinges on doors, wood-grain painted trim on the
handrail upstairs, simple wooden embellishments on the exterior of the house,
and scraps of wallpaper uncovered during initial demolition. The incised lines
on the interior woodwork are very basic, but add a bit of decoration. The
builder here took an extra measure to add a little more decoration by adding a
curve at the top of the trim. This is unusual in that it was faster and easier
to cut the trim boards flush at ninety degrees, and insert a bulls-eye corner.
Where are the kitchen
cabinets? In order to bring this old house back to life, we’ll almost
gut the kitchen to prepare for new cabinets, flooring, and appliances. With
parts of the walls exposed, you can see some of the historic paint colors and
wallpaper scraps that tell the stylistic story of howthe room evolved. In the late 1800’s,
kitchens didn’t have wall to wall cupboards or many appliances. Instead, they
had stand-alone cupboards for storage, a wood or coal fired oven, and an ice
box for refrigeration that really was cooled with ice. Even indoor plumbing was
rare; many houses featured hand pumps, to pump the water up from a well.
Why is this landing
so big? As you may have already noticed, this is a comfortable yet
no-frills house. It’s design is basic, and rooms are moderate. It wasn’t
uncommon to have large landings in farmhouses, which were used as flexible
living space. Sometimes they were used as temporary sleeping areas for guests
or for hired help. Sometimes they were used for storage of trunks and
furniture, and sometimes there were used as sitting areas or study areas. In
this project, our renovation will include the addition of an efficient and
compact full bathroom in this space. (Carefully look at the newel post and the balusters of the
stair railing. Notice the faux wood grain painting to simulate higher end
materials. This is curious because there is an earlier, blue-gray paint under the
grain painted finish.)
Why is this closet so
small? Actually, it’s pretty rare for a house of this age to have
closets at all! Most clothes in the 1880’s were hand-sewn, and basic. The
family who built this house was not wealthy, so we can surmise that they didn’t
have an extensive wardrobe. Most articles of clothing would have been kept in
dressers or wardrobes, since they would not have had grand gowns or multiple
suits. However, because of the way that this house was built, it made sense
architecturally to include the very small closets that we see today. (As a fun detail, look at the decorative hinges that hold
the door in place. The Victorians included elegant designs on nearly
everything—even things that you rarely see. Also, look at the door locks and
handles. They’re placed on the face of the door rather than set into the door.
It was easier and cheaper!)
What’s the final plan
for This Old Medina House? The plan is to restore the exterior of the house to as
original as possible, including the reconstruction of an appropriate porch, and
then paint the entire house in period-appropriate colors. The interior of the
home will be completely renovated, all mechanical systems repaired or replaced,
and then the rooms will be completed in a style that meets the needs of
homebuyers today, yet still respects the history and age of the home.
The goal of Renew Medina is to show that even a basic and
simple house has a lot to offer, and even more to tell. By restoring this one
house, we’ve saved a bit of Medina’s built history, we’ve helped strengthen the
South Court Historic District, and we’ve hopefully shown that everything has a
story to tell.