115 Pemberton St. Cambridge

We were nominated in the 2004 Cambridge Preservation Awards for work we completed to preserve Cambridge’s historic character. We completed the project during the second half of 2003 on the house at 144 Pemberton St.

Description of Achievement:

Ten-room, single family frame house, constructed in 1891 in Cambridge according to the City Assessor’s Office, with aluminum siding and replacement windows dating from the 1960s, underwent complete exterior renovation and upgrade of electrical systems. The project included installation of smoke alarms and internet, cable, and telephone service in all seven bedrooms.

Three-car cement garage was demolished to restore small backyard area for patio (to be constructed). Roof was stripped and new roof, with ice and water shields in all valleys and eaves, was installed.

The aluminum siding, old shingles, and original clapboard were removed, stripping the house to the wide pine boards. Insulation was blown in. New red cedar clapboard, corner boards, and gutters were installed. The 26 existing double-hung windows were replaced and reframed in a style appropriate to the age of the house. Two new casement windows were installed in the second floor laundry room.

A side room with a shed roof, added as a corner store in the 1930s, was demolished and built back to the same size with a proper foundation. Separate zone heating, with two new radiators, was installed and interior finish work was done for this room which is now a bedroom. The new construction was designed to be architecturally compatible with the main house. The lines of the new roof are appropriate to the lines of the house and the mass of the new room is stepped back from the main house on the Pemberton Street side to clearly define the house, the addition and new front deck. Also the new room was constructed on the same level as the main house, whereas the ‘corner store’ had been built at grade, with two steps down as one entered it from the dining room.

Two second-floor balconies (one new, one a replacement) were built on the northeast and northwest of the house. The balcony railings coordinate with those on the first floor back porch and front deck.

A framed trellis was built and installed on the windowless second-floor east wall. In size and placement, the trellis echoes the window frame below it on the first floor and in design it echoes the small cross-hatch window in the front stairway on the east side of the house. The trellis will accommodate a large trumpet vine which previously grew over the garage. Lilacs, also moved to allow for demolition and construction, will be replanted as well, after patio and fences are installed (planned for spring 2004).

The architect, builder, and homeowner worked to together to accomplish the project. The overall result shows attention to detail, including scale and design of front entry roof and porch and deck railings. The colors chosen for the exterior, yellow stain with white paint trim, are attractive and the use of fish-scale shingles on the two gable takes advantage of the house effectively having two front doors, one on Permberton Street and one on Yerxa Road. In general the renovation respects and enhances the original design of the house and makes it a great asset to the neighborhood.