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  • Writer's pictureJohn Henry Architect

Craftsman Home, Fern Creek Ave. Orlando Historic District design by John Henry Architect

Orlando has six Historic Districts.  Any new construction or remodeling has to be presented to the Historic Preservation Board for review in order to judge compliance with regulations on style, colors, massing, setbacks, permeability ratio, fenestration, etc.

John Henry was asked to design a 2,800 sf bungalow Craftsman style home on Fern Creek Avenue in the Lawsonia Historic District.  This is a narrow rectangular but deep lot just west of downtown Orlando.  It is flanked by similar period-style homes.

The contractor, Main Street Builders Construction, requested a front porch (which can project 8 feet into the front setback) and a two-story symmetrical design that mirrors the majority of Craftsman-style homes that were built in the area and around the country.  The garage is set back behind the house.

The house has an Office, Master Suite, Kitchen, Dining, and Family Room on the first floor with three bedrooms upstairs, two with a Jack and Jill bath, plus a Bonus Room.  The color scheme was an all-white siding and trim with black window frames and slate-colored roof.

The requirement was to prepare and submit these Preliminary drawings to the Board within a 10-day deadline in order to meet the monthly review schedule.  This was done and the product is as shown.

There are some compromises to make when you build on a narrow lot and have to work with symmetry.  For example: all the front rooms MUST have equally sized windows to match.  Even upstairs and around the sides of the house you should have vertically oriented windows of the same proportion.  In this case there were four windows to size between the Foyer, Powder Room, Master Bath and Closet.  Then on the second floor windows must line up as well!  You have to have egress in case of fire so a 3 ft by 6 ft window set at 8 ft off of the finished floor gives you a 2 ft wall to climb over.

Period houses like this were built all over the country at the turn of the century and went far into the 50s.  They also include other styles that are regional or European inspired.  One aspect about the Craftsman style is a broad front porch with round or square columns on pedestals.  The color combinations are endless with lap siding and trim boards.  There were stucco and brick compositions and some were assymetrical.  They had large windows for their time and the Preservation Board looks for a minimal 'transparency'.

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