Replacement porch steps for older home
June 17, 2009 8:56 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find vintage photos of, or designs for simple turn of the century porch steps?

Our 96 year old house requires new front porch steps because the old 60's pre-cast concrete ones are falling apart. It's not a grand home, just your typical middle class, west end Toronto house. The thing is, Toronto seems like it's got the FUGLIEST collection of replacement front steps on the continent. While most homes still have the original porch in one form or another, the front steps have sat out in the rain and none seem to have survived from the old days. The newer ones are often badly sized, of concrete, terrazzo or brick with wrought iron rails or more lately, these weird, folded aluminum rails even.

I've had no luck googling for old photos or plans for houses built around 1910 that would fall into the arts & crafts category without being high examples of that style. I'm hoping there's a catalogue or flicker stream that I could look peruse.

I'm planning four steps with a railing on each side and I don't want it to look like it was thrown together with pressure treated 2x4s.

Thanks, I hope this doesn't sound too obsessive/compulsive.
posted by bonobothegreat to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
Best answer: Yeah, this is one of those cases where trying to do all the research while sitting on your duff is moot.

Check out your local history museum. They probably have a photo archive that they are happy to let you dig through.
posted by wfrgms at 9:09 PM on June 17, 2009

American Bungalow Magazine is a great place to look for stuff like this.
posted by Miko at 9:11 PM on June 17, 2009

Old House Journal usually has some good reference starting points.

I am sure Toronto has some organization like we have here in Chicago - a historical society of some sort. If you want something appropriate, look through street photos there.
posted by Tchad at 9:15 PM on June 17, 2009

Good point, Tchad. Here's City of Toronto Heritage Preservation Services.
posted by Miko at 9:18 PM on June 17, 2009

Maybe there is something on This Old House that would be less than fugly.
posted by zinfandel at 9:37 PM on June 17, 2009

Best answer: Consider that it's likely the old porch steps on that kind of house were probably just painted wood with no railings. These days you have to have railings with closely spaced bars to meet building codes so you probably won't be able to make it authentic.
posted by fshgrl at 11:53 PM on June 17, 2009

In Galveston, Texas, there was a 'historic home preservation or something-or-other' group that regulated the changes that could be made to old, historic homes. This included architectural drawings of all homes designated as historic. So if there's a register of historic homes in the area (and I think those linked above would do it), you might be able to get at more than just pictures. They might have the actual plans or architectural drawings, too.
posted by resurrexit at 7:17 AM on June 18, 2009

Best answer: Dover Publishing carries lots of reprints of contemporaneous books on various architectural styles. (Link goes to the first one that came up in a search: "includes sketches, photographs of homes, floor plans, descriptive text.")
posted by dogrose at 7:39 AM on June 18, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone.

Man, I'd forgotten how insanely fabulous (and cheap!) the Dover books are. They've got a got a ton of reprinted catalogues of economical home designs for the 20's. Now I want to build a cottage!

It turns out that the city archives aren't too far away either, so I'll be heading over there to see what they have. I don't have much experience with libraries (only went to art school) so hopefully I'll find a helpful librarian.

I have a feeling, fshgrl is right about the railings.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:13 AM on June 18, 2009

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