June Meeting Recap: 1942 Arlington Ave. “Gonner” to “Gorgeous”

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Many thanks to Breanne and Aaron Barnum and Mike Hildebrand of Hildebrand Properties for showing us around their project at 1942 Arlington. They saved this house from the city demolition list, and are nearing completion of a historically sensitive restoration that includes newly constructed wood windows that copy the design of the original windows, and a combination restoration and replacement of the original wood siding. For the siding, they restored what they could and replaced what was too far gone with new hardwood.

Here’s a before picture from Hildebrand Properties‘ Facebook page:

1942 Arlington Before

And here’s how the house looked when we visited on Saturday:

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Photo credit: Jerry Tormey
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Photo credit: Jerry Tormey
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Photo credit: Jerry Tormey
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Photo credit: Jerry Tormey

Breanne gave us some insight into the business model for this kind of project and the timing they have to stick to in order to limit their “soft” expenses, such as tax and utilities.

Mike showed us some of the woodworking tools he uses to recreate the sashes and frames for the windows. When asked what kind of pattern he used to build the new parts he said “I take apart an old one and use it as a guide.” Once you get the joints and basic measurements down, it’s just a matter of adjusting the numbers to make each window fit its opening, he explained.

The crew has further plans to rescue architecturally significant homes, but they’re learning to set limitations for themselves too. “We’d love to save every house, but right now our company only handles houses in River Bend. We have to focus our efforts to be effective,” explained Breanne.

Their efforts are helping offset costs for the city too. If a house like this stayed on the demolition list the city would have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to have it torn down and then maintain the lot. But if the property gets restored it becomes a taxable asset, which will pay off much better over time than the cost of an empty lot. It’s a win for the city, for the neighbors, and the historic fabric of this community.

Kudos to the team at Hildebrand Properties. We look forward to celebrating their continued success!

[Sincere thanks to Jerry Tormey of the Des Moines Historical Society for taking pictures at the meeting.]