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.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
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.
Basement door closed
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.
Basement door open
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…