Connor Homes, a Vermont-based builder and restorer of vintage-style homes, will see its millwork star as Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Daryl Hall shows off his restoration remodeling philosophy on a DIY Network television show.
Hall also gets the opportunity to show off his talents as a builder and designer on the show, Daryl’s Restoration Over-Hall. The series premieres in May 2014, with a total of eight episodes. In them Connor Homes handiwork will be in the spotlight. The company builds entire houses, including the internal millwork, moulding, cabinetry and stairs, using state-of-the art software and equipment.
DIY Network originally contacted Hall upon learning of his interest in vintage architecture. The musician has previously restored a number of antique homes, including an 18th century farmhouse in New York where his musical program Live from Daryl’s House is filmed.
The focus of Daryl's Restoration Over-Hall will be the renovation of a late Georgian house from the 1780s located in Sherman, CT. Hall plans to revive the one-bedroom house, originally built by a widowed sea captain, into a new family home, with a goal of melding a historically accurate restoration with the mandates of modernity and small town regulations. DIY Network’s cameras will follow Hall’s progress on a weekly basis.
“The purpose of my new show is to restore an antique New England house, showing how it can be done in an authentic manner, keeping the original elements and making it consistent with the modern world,” said Hall, in a prepared statement. “I also want to feature the important community of crafts-people, who are expert in authentic restoration.”
Best of Both Worlds
Part of Connor Homes’ philosophy revolves around the “New Old Home” concept, which is to capture the essence of historic architecture in a new home with today’s practical layouts and modern amenities, essentially combining the charm and warmth of yesterday’s architecture with current technological advances and conveniences. This approach meshes well with what Hall wants to accomplish.
“Connor Homes was approached by the original architect, who asked if we would consult on historic architectural detailing and provide a material package for the project,” says Connor Homes’ CEO David Auth.
“Our contribution to the restoration of Daryl’s 1787 house includes design and manufacturing of historically accurate millwork and architectural details for the original house as well as a large, period authentic addition. In addition, through our J.S. Benson Woodworking division, we are providing true divided light windows manufactured using chestnut reclaimed from an 1840’s farm house.”
Auth says the design and some of the reclaimed lumber they are using for the renovation actually came from Hall. Connor Homes pre-engineers and builds components at its plant, using two Biesse CNCs - a Klever gantry machine and a Rover A multi-axis pod and rail - for cutting millwork, then prepackages the house and assembles it at the site.
“Our company has been designing and building homes with authentic, historic architectural detailing for over forty years, so the first advantage we bring to the table is institutional expertise,” Auth says. “With that expertise coupled with high technology manufacturing, we are able to accurately reproduce by machine what used to be laboriously done by hand. The end result is sophisticated architecture made more affordable.”
But it is not always easy staying true to the original design and materials of a vintage home while using more current machinery and tools, and the process occasionally requires adapting to a specific set of circumstances. According to Auth, this is something not forgotten by Connor Homes.
“We don’t let the machinery drive the design,” says Auth. “It’s just the opposite. If using a machine to realize efficiency compromises design, the design would stay, the machinery would go. Even in this age of robotic millwork, we still use hand tools like chisels and scrapers, sanding blocks and hand planes to enable us to do a faithful reproduction of historical elements.”
Auth says that Hall’s project contains some of the typical challenges of an old house that has seen a series of renovations over the years. One of the initial issues was to determine what period of the several represented by the previous renovations should be the predominant driver in the current restoration.
“The original house was a Georgian/Federal amalgamation, with later Greek Revival elements added,” says Auth. “In the end, after discussions with Daryl, it was determined that the Georgian/Federal elements would take precedence in the new addition and that existing moldings and paneling would be copied as they were originally executed.”
According to Hall, there is a “legacy of unique antique architecture here in America. Unfortunately, in many cases, they have been let go, demolished or altered inconsistently to their original character.” Auth thinks that the series may bring more attention to these vintage homes, and in doing so, cause more of them to be saved rather than destroyed.
“Historic architecture has and continues to hold a place of reverence and respect with a large and appreciative crowd of admirers,” Auth says. “Many assume the required resources and expertise no longer exist to execute the restoration of exquisite architectural details from the past. This series will hopefully make others aware that, first and foremost, there are dedicated and knowledgeable followers of historic architecture like Daryl Hall who recognize the artistic and academic value in restoring homes from another century. In addition, the series will reinforce that there are resources that are not only knowledgeable, but also innovative in their use of modern technology to address the restoration and replication of an art form that was primarily accomplished using hand tools and long hours of human labor.”