Henry Dubin Battledeck House
JLK has worked as the architect for over ten years to rehabilitate this Modernist local and National Landmark home in Highland Park.
Highland Park, Illinois
About this Project
The Battledeck House, designed by architect Henry Dubin in 1930, has undergone an extensive exterior restoration over the course of a decade to bring the house back to its original intended appearance.
When the house was purchased in 2010, the exterior was in great need of restoration. The masonry walls that supported the steel decks were built using Chicago common brick and had been painted several times over the years. The soft brick wicks water and the latex paint on the exterior face traps that water inside the brick. The brick had cracks and spalls, and in many places has been re-placed or parged over. Organic growth was found on many areas of brick. There were large areas of Portland cement patch and mortar. The slate coping stones originally installed along the tops of the walls were an important element that enhanced the horizontality of the design, but were missing and instead replaced with metal and wood, or they are decayed beyond repair.
The house had seen recent work to address bowing in the brick walls over windows and doors and at the parapet walls. The roof had evidence of leaking in some areas. Water was seeping into the basement, evidence that the concrete foundation needed waterproofing. The most serious conditions were seen at the west glass porch where there was failure at the window wall, foundation, and structure.
The curtain wall failed and was held in place by stacked concrete pieces. Vines were growing though the walls and into the house. The steel columns were deteriorated at their bases. The steel deck above the structural steel channels at the roof was warped and riddled with holes. The west glass, porch, once open air, but was enclosed for many years. The roof deck was in poor condition and the metal overhang was rusting. The chimney was falling apart at the top and water damage was present on the exterior near the fireplace.
Work to restore and repair the exterior of Battledeck House took nearly a decade to complete. All work was completed in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Preservation.
The brick walls were cleaned and repaired; any failed brick was replaced with brick that matched the original as closely as possible. The latex paint was removed as thoroughly as possible without damaging the brick and all Portland cement was removed as much as was possible. We were unable to re-move 100% of the Portland cement that was covering the brick, and many areas were left with a white patched look. These bricks starkly contrasted with the new infill brick that was installed at various times over several decades. To combat this, a Keim mineral wash was applied to the entire house to unify the brick and mimic the house’s original muted white wash. This treatment was in keeping with descriptions of the house from an oral history with Dubin’s son that is in the library of the Art Institute of Chicago.
The west porch was completely dismantled and rebuilt. The original porch was open air, but to better serve the needs of the homeowners and in emulation with a change made in the mid-century, the porch was rebuilt as an enclosed structure with plate glass, mimicking the appearance of the original as much as possible. The steel system at the north side of the porch was replicated and created with a slight overhang at the back of the house to protect the door way and perimeter from water. This work was approved by the City of Highland Park and Landmarks Illinois, who owns the easements on all four facades of the house.
The majority of the windows are original and have been maintained over the years.
The garage door was replaced with a wooden custom door that was sympathetic to the original wood door specified on the 1930 construction drawings.
Driveway and Wing Wall
The driveway was rebuilt with new pavers and a new trench drain was installed to help water flow away from the house. The front steps are being replaced with new bluestone steps. The wing wall that extends onto the driveway from the house was dismantled and repaired. The original light fixture inset into the wing wall was recreated to exactly match the original.
Copings and Handrail
The copings on all roof levels were replaced with natural bluestone to mimic the appearance of the original while maintaining the homeowners’ budget. The handrail was recreated based on historic photographs and original drawings and finished with a powder coating to mimic the historically ap-propriate finish.
Roof and Roof Deck
The roofing material was repaired on all levels. The non-original wood pallet deck was removed and replaced with a porcelain stone tile system on pedestals. The metal overhang was repaired and the rust removed and repainted; the underside was originally white, as seen in historic photographs, and the rest was black. New flashing and counterflashing were installed. All brick received the same treatment here as on the rest of the house.
The chimney was in disrepair and was partially dismantled and repaired at several locations. Some bricks were replaced and stained to match the rest of the house.