North Henry Street
alexandria, virginia

Explanation of Project including scope:

This two-story, three-bay frame house dates to at least 1902 according to Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps and had undergone previous alterations in:

  • 1914 to tear down and rebuild the rear ell
  • 1942 to replace siding on entire house
  • 1949 to replace the front wood stoop with concrete, add shutters and install a canopy
  • 1959 to replace the front door and install aluminum siding

We were truly humbled to have been invited to be part of a team to restore and preserve this beautiful historic structure through the provision of architectural design services.

Included in the design program was the restoration of the exterior of the existing structure to its documented 1902 original.

Also, we were asked to totally redesign the interior to make it suitable and functional for modern day living. The building had been unoccupied since 1984.

Unusual Constraints or challenges:

The entire structure of the existing building was compromised. The building needed an entirely new structure: floors, roof, walls, and foundation (the existing building had NO foundation, the 2x8 first floor joist were sitting on dirt!).

However, the Historic Preservation Office (HPO) will not allow the building to structure to be completely razed down. All exterior was to be restored, and any interior structural members that could be salvaged should be preserved.

The building now had three layers of skin: aluminum siding on top of asphalt bricktex siding on top of original wood Dutch lap siding. The HPO required the entire building to be stripped down to the original dutch lap siding.

A peculiar constraint was that over the years the building now found itself located in an area zoned for commercial use while it was still a residential building.

The entire building is only 17 feet wide……yes, 17 feet wide, and we were required to maintain that width!

Creative solutions to the challenges:

We built a new structural ‘skeleton’ to accommodate the existing ‘skin’ from the inside out. The new foundation, floors and roof systems were all engineered with an inside-out approach.

The entire existing building was encapsulated in a plastic bubble and asbestos/lead remediation was undertaken to strip off the aluminum and bricktex siding.

Due to the small width of the existing frame, an open plan concept was adopted for the interior of the first floor and the building ‘stretched’ at the rear of the second floor by building an addition on columns. This extension in turn provide a covering from the elements for the new patio at the rear of the first floor.

Overall results of the project:

Words cannot describe the overall results of the project, please see photos of existing and the completed project and judge for yourself!


g. manu & associates - architectural design & build
g. manu & associates - architectural design & build