Historic houses and old houses

In my line of work, it is always best to call old houses historic houses. In St. Paul most of the housing stock is historic. Many are small but some are large and have architectural features that we don’t see as much if at all in new construction.

The turret comes to mind. One of the best places to go turret hunting is in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood in St. Paul and winter is a great time to take pictures of them.

You will find turrets on Victorian and Queen Anne style Victorian homes built in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Houses with turrets can also be found in the Crocus Hill neighborhood, the Summit Hill neighborhood, the Capital heights neighborhood, and on the Westside.

Turret collage

The tiny bungalow kitchen

The kitchen is from one of those adorable 1920’s craftsman-style bungalows.  These houses were made or entertaining with beautiful dining rooms that have built-in buffets. They are usually small houses that are one to 1.5 stories and at the time they were built with simplicity and affordability in mind.

Often the kitchens in these homes are tiny as in 9 X 9 and they may have an old-style radiator under the one window and there isn’t any place to put the fridge except in that little space by the back entryway or the small hallway by the basement door.

This particular home has a small kitchen with little useable counter space but plenty of storage because the designer took advantage of the vertical space.


More often than not the kitchens in these homes can not be expanded but it is a trade-off and the people who love these homes buy them and come up with all sorts of creative ways to make the kitchen more user-friendly. In fact, several books have been written about these kitchens and how to make the most out of them.

They really don’t build houses the way they used to. Heck, small affordable houses are rarely built at all anymore.

What is a dormer?


My house has a dormer but it isn’t as fancy as this one. The house is a story and a half and without the dormer, the ceiling would not be very high in one of the bedrooms and it would be slanted. The dormer brings in light because of the windows which are a common feature found in dormers.

The one in the picture is extra fancy. We don’t build them like this anymore.

Sometimes less is more

Alexander Ramsey House
Alexander Ramsey House

Back in the 1870’s the Ramsey house probably only had one wreath on the door during the holidays. I like the simple decorations and they are all cordless.  The inside of the is decorated for the holidays too and there are tours and holiday events Throughout the holidays and even on Black Friday.

Alexander Ramsey was the first Governor of the Territory in 1849 and the only person from the Whig party to govern. He was appointed by the 12th president of the United States, Zachary Taylor.

Porches are like decks . . sort of

I love homes with porches. I have two of them and neither is enclosed. It is like having a couple of extra rooms during the warmer months.

What is a porch? I like to say it is just like the decks in suburbia but with a roof over it. There are a few flavors of porch and sometimes they can even be included as part of the total square footage of a home.

Here is a short guide for porch type identification:

4-Season Porch/Sunroom
A 4-season porch is a room that functions as an interior room, but allows you to take in the views of the outdoors year-round. It has permanent heat and is included in the finished square footage of the home.

3-Season Porch
A 3-season porch has windows with integrated screen systems and can be used for long periods throughout the year. They can shield you from outdoor elements such as rain, wind, sun and insects, but 3-season porches are not heated and can not be counted as finished space.

3 season proch
3 season porch

Screen Porch
Screened porches are a covered porches and enclosed with screen windows.  Screened porches are like being outside except without the mosquitoes and are not counted as finished space no matter how well appointed they are.

Open Porch

Just a deck with railings and a roof over it. A great place for plants and chairs or a porch swing. Not really even a one season porch here in Minnesota. More like a two month porch. These porches are very common in the oldest parts of St. Paul and are a wonderful place to hang a porch swing.