Home & Garden

From the archives: New addition makes old house more livable — Oct. 4, 1987

This story was originally published in the Herald-Leader on Oct. 4, 1987.

Lovers of houses old and new will find something to suit their tastes when Dan and Wendy Bolton Rowland open their home Oct. 11 for Autumn on South Hill.

The Greek Revival house, at 342 South Mill Street, has a contemporary addition built last year.

The 1846 corner house is two-story brick with a brick ell running along Pine Street. But the 1986 addition, also on Pine and two stories, is frame and pure contemporary. Nothing is hokey or made to look old.

The new ell has convenience previously not possible in the house.

"A shower is something we never had before; we really appreciate it," said Rowland, an associate professor of Russian history at the University of Kentucky. Mrs. Rowland is a sculptor with two shows that opened last week in Louisville.

"We shamefully exploited all our friends," Rowland said of deciding how to build the addition.

"Everyone suggested to take off the old porch, which had rotted, and incorporate the new services. Wendy said no. She wanted porches, which was the smartest thing we did.

"We rebuilt the porch but kept it a porch. It opens up the house to light and air and lets the house work as it did when it was built. We don't have air conditioning."

The 16-by-14-foot ell helps to buffer traffic sounds. It provides privacy from Pine Street for the backyard but offers views of the yard through casement windows and glass doors.

The new design by architect Larry Isenhour incorporates the old brick ell, which had been remodeled in Victorian times. New windows are Greek Revival in keeping with the main house.

The contemporary ell's roof is deliberately lower than the massing of the brick ell and main house.

"We watched the ratios of new to old, we were so anxious that nothing overpowers," Rowland said.

And while the new design is contemporary, the addition incorporates elements inspired by the original house.

The new long flight and a short set of steps from the old dining room into the new kitchen are all poplar, again deliberately.

"Everything in the old house, every piece of wood but two, is poplar: the trim, the beams, the joists," Rowland said.

The mix of old and new seems symbolized by views from the new study.

Windows overlook historic South Hill and modern Main Street.

The study window seat is 14 feet long. "We stretch out up here and watch the snow fall," Mrs. Rowland said. "Underneath the seat is storage. I was obsessed with storage because there was so little in the house."

Downstairs in the new kitchen is the couple's old stove. They bought it used from Volunteers of America when they bought the house in 1974.

The rest of the kitchen is all contemporary, with walls of storage in gray and white Formica.

"I can't say a word against this kitchen," Rowland said. "It does shock some people, but they have been really kind with comments."

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