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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 7 months ago

Historic Winter Park home receives special new flooring

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The house at 1300 Summerland Ave. has new flooring that stays true to the home's historic origins.
by: Tim Freed Managing Editor

A historic home in Winter Park is undergoing a special renovation project — one that’s bringing back the home’s charming character.

The home at 1300 Summerland Ave. was built in the 1880s, making it one of the oldest homes in the city. When a water leak damaged the kitchen and much of the wood flooring, the homeowner contracted Alair Homes to repair the damage and also a bank of windows in the house.

“What makes this house unique is that the original part of the house — it’s been added onto twice — was built in the early 1880s,” Alair Homes Partner Daniel Kennerly said. “(The homeowner) has a map which shows seven original houses in Winter Park in the mid-1800s. This is one of those houses, and they all had names — this was called the Chubb House.”

The repair and renovation project included new solid-wood custom cabinets in the kitchen that stay true to the old design of the home. Work also was done on a laundry room and half-bath.

What made the project a true undertaking though was the heartwood pine flooring that had to be replaced.

“In rural areas, there’s still massive pine trees out there, but in the center of a pine tree, they have what’s called the heart of the tree,” Kennerly said. “It’s much harder and denser wood, because it’s obviously the oldest wood in the tree. 

“In small trees it’s really tiny, but as you get into larger and larger trees, it gets bigger and bigger,” he said. “It’s really unique, because usually pine is a soft wood, but that heart in the center of a pine tree is really hard and dense, and it works really well for flooring. You just about can’t ruin it … because it’s been so compressed for years and years and years.”

Finding new 7-inch-wide planks of heartwood pine that were 14 feet long was a true challenge, because it takes an extremely large tree to produce, Kennerly said.

Back in the 1800s, massive pine trees of that size were common, Kennerly said, but logging and development for 100 years has made them harder to find.

“Something that was very easy to get at that time and wasn’t unique is now super unique,” Kennerly said.

Alair Homes enlisted the help of a special company that dredges old logs off the bottom of the St. Johns River that were left behind from the old logging industry in Florida.

“They have these logs that they’ve dredged that four or five of us couldn’t get our arms around,” he said. “They sell the wood and they cut it to order, so we had to order this wood to replace the wood in the floor there to match what was there. (The homeowner) didn’t want something new, she wanted it to match what the original floor was.”

Kennerly said the project is one he won’t soon forget.

“Both sides of my family actually moved to Florida in the 1870s and 1880s,” he said.“I’m a fifth-generation Floridian, and it’s really neat to have an opportunity to work on a home that potentially my great-great-grandfather could have walked around in. There just aren’t that many homes from that period in Florida left. Florida is a hard environment on buildings — especially wood buildings like back in those days. There’s no AC, no plumbing, no electricity, and everything deteriorates wood. It was such an honor to be able to work on that house and to help the homeowner put that house back together.”

Tim Freed is the Managing Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. He previously spent six years covering the Winter Park/Maitland area and is a graduate of the University of Central Florida....

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