Possibly buying an old house. Can you answer some questions?

Questions, answers and advice for people who own or work on houses built during the 20th century.

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Possibly buying an old house. Can you answer some questions?

Postby CzenziLee on Sat Jan 20, 2018 8:22 pm

Hi all,

I'm new here and new to old houses, and have a lot of questions, so thank you in advance for your patience. I am thinking of buying a small house in the historic district of the city I live in in Texas. On my walk through today, I noticed it had some odd design details. I was hoping someone on here could tell me if and why it was built with these features, or anything else you know about this style of house.

The house is about 1400 square feet, single story, clapboard and on a long, thin lot. It was built in 1925. I think the house has a pretty typical floor plan. One side is living, dining, kitchen. The living room is bumped slightly forward. The other side is bed, bed, bath, bed. The roof is basically half-hipped as far as I can tell. There is an L-shaped wraparound porch in the front, which leads me to my first question.

First, there are two doors on the front side of the house leading to the porch. (There is also a side door also going to the porch and a back door going to a separate patio. Four exterior doors total.) The front doors are at 90 degree angles. The one that doesn't face the street directly goes to the living room and the one facing the street goes to the living room that is probably best as a bedroom even though it has french doors leading to the living room and no closet. The bedroom door is slightly fancier while the side door to the living room is a little plainer. Why would a house this small have two front doors and make the fancier and more visible one the one that wouldn't be used?

Second, while the front "bedroom" doesn't have a closet, the living room does. That said, it is a bigger room and leads directly to the dining room with no door, so I am fairly sure it is the living room despite all this. Does this seem correct or is there something I'm missing here in terms of layout?

Third, there is a "hallway" that is really a small square area with entrances into the dining room and bathroom. On one side of this hallway, there is some shelving with doors for linen, but above on the other side there are two small doors very high on the wall (the ceilings are at least 9 feet and these are at the top). At first thought they might be access to the attic, but the hallway is almost too small for a ladder and these doors are really too small to squeeze through. What are they?

Finally, the bathroom's been redone and the kitchen floors are newer, but a lot of the house is original. But, I'm not sure if two things about the walls are truly 1920s or not. In the dining room there is a chair rail that goes up to about mid-door. It is bead board with a very narrow top border. Was this added later or is it correct? Also, in the kitchen, the walls have been painted cream like the cupboards but they seem to be some sort of wide paneling that runs vertically. This includes under the island that was added later to open up the kitchen to the dining area. Is this also correct to the period?

Thank you for answering these questions. This house is one I'm seriously considering so I'd like to know as much about it as I can.
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