By Paul Goldfinger, editor @Blogfinger
When Brian Kenny, a master carpenter for thirty years, first saw the c. 1880’s house at 26 Lake Avenue, he observed that the building would need a “major ground-up restoration” of all three floors and that the historic house had great bones –“it was straight as an arrow.”
The building had experienced many alterations over the years, so there were major design challenges. The Beersheba Award presentation, written by Ocean Grove historian Jenny Shaffer, described the house as “quirky.” She said, “As is typical in Ocean Grove, 26 Lake had been altered over the years, and presented an odd, at times bewildering, mixture of forms and styles: it is a sort of Classical Revival meets Foursquare house with a Queen Anne-ish porch.”
The owner of 26 Lake, Peter Barbur, an attorney, had hired a San Francisco architect, Kurt Melander, with Victorian home-design experience, to draw up the plans. Those plans required that all materials be “eco-friendly.” In addition, every aspect had to be historically accurate (using old postcards and existing details for guidance), and every component had to be approved by submitting “shop drawings” to the architect. The concern for the environment transcended the entire restoration, which was just completed after 15 months of work.
Only the best materials were to be used, including clear vertical grained cedar siding, solid wood columns, hand-made moldings, special double-hung windows from Canada, FSC certified lumber from approved forests, copper flashings, “reclaimed” bluestone for the patio (from a cemetery walkway) and specially designed fireplaces for the reworking of the two originals.
Most of the wood features in the house were made by Brian Kenny in his shop in Asbury Park. He is very particular about the small details of his work. He uses only stainless steel fasteners, and all the wood is pre-treated. Kenny’s company has won Beershebas several times in the past, and he is the owner of the “Great Atlantic Porch Company.”
The heating and cooling of the house is provided by a super-efficient geothermal system that derives energy from under the ground. The owner loves to cook, so there is a raised herb garden on one side. On the other are large vegetable and flower planters which were hand made by Kenny. As we walked around the property, he ran his hand over a curved section of molding. He used special tools to mill the various segments that were made to match original details.
As he bent over to pick a weed, he looked around and said, “You know, we also installed a rainwater collection system. All the gutters and downspouts collect water which goes to two 3,500 gallon underground plastic tanks. A pump then provides irrigation to all the plants.”
Although the Beersheba Award was given for the outside, the interior, which we briefly saw, is spectacular and includes a large original stained glass window which is seen as one climbs a very beautiful staircase. You can see it from the outside, but the interior view (see photo below) shows all the colors.
The HPC was very happy with the result. Ms. Shaffer said, “The architects embraced and respected the building’s history. Moreover, they worked to discover lost aspects of this house through the detailed investigation of the visual resources available at the Historical Society.”
The two open porches and the enclosed one offer views of Wesley Lake and Founders Park. The Beersheba award calls 26 Lake “an imposing structure that once again anchors its corner, but, also, fortunately, has not lost the unique features that reflect its history of change.” We didn’t have the opportunity to speak to the owner, but he has to be thrilled with this yellow masterpiece with a red roof — now one of the great houses of Ocean Grove.
ANITA O’DAY with a Duke Ellington tune which reminds me of the elegance of #26 Lake Avenue.
SLIDE SHOW: All photos by Paul Goldfinger. Run your cursor on the bottom to find a stop and go tool. Note that the gentleman on the 2nd floor porch is builder Brian Kenny.