Late last year, I had the opportunity to work on the Wheeler Residence, the last remaining building left in the City of Los Angeles designed by the Greene brothers.
There’s more information about the house, which is for sale, on the LA Times site.
I was there because a double-hung window needed reroping and the counter-balanced basement door wasn’t working right.
I have to admit, it was pretty exciting to work on the window. I’ve reroped many, many double-hung windows over the years, but this was a little different. Not only was it Greene & Greene designed, but every other window in the house was a casement window, which was more typical for Greene & Greene houses. Was I repairing the last Greene & Greene double-hung window in Los Angeles? For a window restorer, this was pretty heady stuff.
The basement door was a puzzle. With its pulleys, (missing) ropes and trap doors, it seemed more nautical than anything else.
After rigging it up by using the door as a counterbalance, the trap doors did work but poorly. But there was one pulley left that I hadn’t used. I just couldn’t figure out the purpose of a pulley that was on the basement side of the door.
Running out of ideas, I called information to get Jane Powell’s number in Berkeley. Jane is a restoration consultant, an expert on Craftsman houses and is the author of many of my favorite restoration books, including Bungalow Details: Exterior and Bungalow Details: Interior.
Apparently she hadn’t seen a mechanism like this either.
Finally, after staring at the thing long enough, I realized that the casing was worn below the inside pulley. There must have been a weight that hung there!
I grabbed the smallest window weight I could find in my truck and rigged it up. It worked.
Quite a day. I had repaired an interesting and possibly unique architectural mechanism and reroped what may be the last double-hung window left in the City of Los Angeles designed by Greene & Greene (if one wants to get particular).
Driving away, I felt quite a bit of pride.
Just as I was turning the corner, though, I saw them. There were three more double-hung windows in the kitchen. Ah well, so much for my bragging rights.
The L.A. Times article says that the kitchen is a later addition though…