Historic City of Jefferson Workshops on Rehapping Old Homes

From the Jefferson City News Tribune

Workshops provide lessons in rehabbing old homes

February 12th, 2017 by Michelle Brooks

The pioneer era of historic preservation in Jefferson City is ending.

Individuals, like Jane Beetem, who have restored many older buildings in town over several decades have seen public opinion of the pursuit turn from abnormal to sought after in the last decade.

Combined with the potential for architecturally distinctive properties in the Capitol Avenue area to become available for restoration, the Historic City of Jefferson has created a four-part workshop for those interested in historic preservation.

The first workshop, "So You Think You Want an Old House?" begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday the Clydesdale Room at Scheppers Distributing, 2300 St. Mary's Blvd.

"We've needed more workshops like this for some time now," Beetem said. "We want to give them information so they can determine if this is something they can do."

During Beetem's three complete restorations and multiple "super maintenance" projects, she said, "I've not found many surprises; most things we knew about in advance."

That requires planning, one of the keys to successful historic preservation efforts which will be highlighted in the workshop.

When Beetem began in the mid-1980s, the internet was not available and she spent a lot of research time in books, journals and newspapers, she said.

For those who want to get into historic preservation today, it is much easier.

With the growth of do-it-yourself projects and home improvement television, Beetem thinks interest in giving it a try is growing.

She has experience to share.

For example, new replacement windows may not save a homeowner money or energy in the long term. A common misconception in rehabilitation is "old windows must go," she said.

However, because older windows were made of denser wood and newer windows have parts that weaken quicker, Beetem said, preservationists should do their homework.

"My three-story home energy bill is cheaper than my one-story ranch," she said.

The methods used in constructing older homes may be different than modern practices, but not necessarily substandard.

"Older materials function better in some cases," Beetem said. "Builders in the past knew what they were doing."

In Jefferson City, particularly, the housing stock benefits from early German immigrants who preferred building with masonry.

"They're more sound structures to work with," she said. "If you have four walls and most of a roof, you can maintain a property, even vacant, for a while."

Water is an older home's nemesis.

The workshops also will address the common issues of older homes, such as where wood rot shows up most frequently and how to eliminate drafts.

Historic preservation isn't for everyone.

Beetem said before making an investment into fixing up an older home, one should consider his own skill set, what kind of support system is available to him and what he is willing to sacrifice.

"There's tons of decisions, compromises and financial stressors," she said. "But if you like a challenge and working with your hands and love preserving the historic character of the community, I suggest you consider it."


"How to rehab — and skip some of the pain" is a four-part series of workshops beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Clydesdale Room at Scheppers Distributing, 2300 St. Mary's Blvd. in Jefferson City.

The free workshops, hosted by the Historic City of Jefferson, start with "So You Think You Want an Old House?" 

"Planning to Restore an Old House" will be May 18, "Will This Project Ever End?" on Aug. 17 and "Showing Off Your Finished Home" on Nov. 16.

Each night will feature printed handouts, suggested resources and a question-and-answer period.

For more information, call 573-680-0005, send an email to hcjprez@gmail.com or visit historiccityofjefferson.com.