July 3, 2017
Our company does a lot of structural condition assessments of residences, oftentimes for Architects when there is a planned major renovation of an old house. The City of Atlanta requires an engineer to evaluate the foundations of old homes if a second story is proposed, because there are often problems with the existing foundations. This house was at first unremarkable, it was an old home in the west side of Atlanta, and was a fairly standard small home built in the 1920’s for working class people that had employment in the cotton mills and factories that once dotted the City. However, this one had a surprise. Let’s look at it:
It was just what we call a “shotgun shack”, it was an old duplex that had been subdivided into apartments as the neighborhood got poorer. I was surprised though when I looked around the side
Notice the subwall is stone – that was not typical of these type of houses. Usually they didn’t have subwalls, they had brick piers and were open underneath. You usually see concrete block that was placed around the brick piers at a later date to close in under the house and add some space for storage and usually a washing machine. Also, what was the deal with the blocked up window? Around back the subwall changed to block, which was odd:
I thought the whole thing was rather unusual, but the answer came when I went into the basement. I found this:
The house had been built on top of an older stone house! The stone house underneath has to date back to the mid 1800’s. It’s rare to find such things around here, most of the older homes were built of timber, which is long gone. Apparently when they built the shotgun house, there was an old house already on site, and the builder just built on top. Here’s some more photos:
I have seen the older homes containing salvaged timber, that is rather common. Reusing timber from old houses or barns that were torn down would have made sense to the builder. The cost of materials vs. labor probably was more in favor of using the labor and trying to save on materials. Hopefully the investor that bought the house and the Architect will make use of the old house in the basement and make this a more distinctive house. This is one of the most interesting homes I’ve ever visited.