The app that takes you back

The Historic Albany Foundation recently announced the release of member Tim Varney’s new smartphone app “Albany: Then and Now.” Even the title alone sounds exciting! And now, after throwing a super fancy release the party, the app is officially available for download. So what exactly does “Albany: Then and Now” do, you ask?

The opening app screen (left) where you can navigate to the map (right). Each red arrow represents a location with an historical image associated with it.

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Fort Greene “Afters”

Remember this surreal restoration that threw a few surprises our way? We officially closed the book on it at the beginning of the summer, when the homeowners debuted their new digs with a Memorial Day BBQ. They shared some “after” pictures they took personally, but we just received some pro ones from our good friend Nelson Hancock (who also took some unbelievably gorgeous shots of this lobby restoration we did), and we just had to post them!
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Birds, or history?

On my very first visit to Howard Hall, we spent the majority of the evening on the porch that spans the entire width of the back of the house. The view was incredible. The Hudson, framed by acres and acres of trees, lolled by in the distance. The feeling of it all being so close you could touch it was amplified by the fact that the railing had yet to be installed. The scene felt like a Hudson River School painting that I could walk right into, Mary Poppins style.

The view from the roof

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You know you want one…

To extend the independence celebrations just a liiittle longer, we are announcing…

The Liberty theater marquee giveaway contest!

Reggie’s friend Stephanie recently got her hands on this amazing marquee from a theater in Liberty, NY and we thought, “What better way to honor Uncle Sam than to have a good old fashioned giveaway?”

Liberty Marquee

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Falling down the rabbit hole in Fort Greene

You never know what you’re going to find when you start digging into the guts of an older home. Sometimes a project that presents itself as being straightforward ends up dropping you down a restoration rabbit hole. Our latest project had what you might call a… plot twist.

This brownstone was unique in the fact that it had an extra room on each of its lower floors, making it deeper than most brownstones we work on. To allow for these extra rooms, there was a wooden truss system supporting the rear brick wall. While we could see the wall was sagging slightly, we had no idea that the main beam of the truss system had completely sheared in half until we demoed the first floor. The wall was on the verge of collapse.

This surprise discovery meant we needed to take this wall down, brick by brick. Either that, or wait for the vengeful Brownstone Gods to take it down themselves in a much more dramatic fashion (and it probably would not have been a long wait, either).

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It’s official: dogs are taking over the carpentry game

…or: What to do when the stairs in your brownstone are falling off the wall!

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: stairs in older homes always seem to have the same problems. This staircase we encountered on our latest project managed to go above and beyond the normal range of issues.

Not only did we have to stabilize it, repair delicate railings and fix broken spindles, but we had to literally tear the whole thing out and start from scratch.
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Nora’s tribute to Colorado in mural form

Our very good friend and partner Nora Johnson recently completed a stunning scenic mural of the Colorado landscape, and we can’t wait to show it to you! The 8′ x 50′ mural was presented at the 2012 Denver Home Show, but was then donated to Brent’s Place, which is a non-profit home for families with children with cancer in Aurora, Colorado. Such a beautiful mural, and an even more beautiful gesture. Oh Nora, how do we love you? Let me count the ways…
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Partners in Preservation announces grant winners!

As you can imagine, we here at HHF have been following the Partners in Preservation contest pretty closely. For those unaware of Partners in Preservation, it is a community-based initiative program that began in 2006. Each year they focus on a different city and select a list of local historic sites to receive grant money to fund restoration projects. And then this is where the fun begins: the list is handed over to the public who then votes for their favorite site to receive funding.

In 2012, 40 historic places throughout the five boroughs of New York City were chosen, the public voted for a month, and now we finally know who the winners are!

While I personally voted for the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx (because I’m creepy like that), I’m still pretty jazzed about this year’s winners:

Look at these amazing doors on the Brooklyn Public Library! (Source)

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The horrors of Portland cement

Look at all that nasty Portland cement

Ever walk around NYC (or anywhere for that matter) and notice those old, dilapidated brick walls? The ones that seem to be disintegrating before your eyes? Ever wonder why it is that something supposedly so strong not even a big, bad wolf could blow it down now seems to be crumbling like a cookie? The answer is usually Portland cement.
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