Open Door

Open Door
Indianapolis, Indiana

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Floor Plan

I had planned to do a blog on the Stabilization Part 3 next, however, our server decided it needed a vacation. Since the pictures for the stabilization are on the server, it wouldn’t be very interesting without them. So let’s take a look at the floor plan that Eric just completed. And let’s hope that the server is back by the end of the week.

As a preliminary, you’ll have to understand that the back or West Wing had already collapsed the first time we had access to it. At some point in the future, we’ll ask Chad at Indiana Landmarks to do a sketch of what it used to be like when he first entered the house. Even after many conversations, we haven’t yet determined exactly how it will be configured  in the restoration.

The first floor of the Horner House contains 3 rooms in the main part of the house. There is a small entry hall that contains the tightly turning stairway. The hallway runs the length of the main part of the house to the West Wing.

To the left or south of the front door, there is a nice sized formal parlor approximately 16x16. The parlor has a fireplace on the south wall opposite the doorway into the room. At the present, there is a large hole in the floor of this room.

The dining room, which is also to the south of the main hall, is also 16x16. There is a fireplace on the west wall and a huge hole in the south wall. We don’t yet know what the original configuration of this room was. There is evidence of a foundation of a bay window, similar to what is in the sitting room. There is also evidence of a porch or patio that looks like it provided a third entry into the ground floor, possibly for the apartments and probably a later change. There is no doorway between the living & dining rooms currently. We suspect that we will find evidence that there was a doorway there at one time. We would LOVE to see a large pocket door installed during the restoration.

Across the hallway from the dining room is the sitting room. It has a bay window and is approximately 12 feet, before the extension of the bay, by 16 feet. There is a fireplace on the west wall. Amanda & Eric plan to use this room as a Music Room because of the natural light and unusual configuration.

We do know that the kitchen and  utilities were in the West Wing on the first floor. In addition, there was a back stairway in the West Wing. All the plumbing was originally in the West Wing. There was some piping upstairs that was run from the West Wing, across the first floor ceiling and up through the floor to allow upstairs apartment kitchens in the fifties. We’re also not sure about the original configuration of  the back wall of the West Wing but we know there were 2 doors. When the back wall fell, it appeared it was the area between 2 exterior doors. By the placement and size of the large hole, the doors would not have aligned with the upper story windows but would have been somewhat offset.    

On the second floor, it appears there were 5 large bedrooms. The main part of the house has a bedroom over each of the main floor rooms. The 2 rooms to the south appear to be identical to the main floor, including the placement of the fireplaces, with the room size shortened only by the closets. For the bedroom over the sitting room, there is no evidence of either a fireplace or a bay window. There is no evidence on the floor of a hearth ever being there and the floors appear to be original. We’ll be doing more “digging” to see if a fireplace may have been removed when it was divided into apartments. Oh to be able to go back in time and see the original house and to be able to record each of the changes as it was made!

The rear stairway came up into the West Wing, however, we have no idea what the original configuration may have been. We’re pretty sure there were at least 2 rooms there due to the stairs. It does not appear that there were ever any fireplaces in the West Wing and we’re fairly sure that these  coal fireplaces were the original heating system for the house. Perhaps these were servant quarters or just storage originally.

And up to the third floor. There is only a ceiling access to the 3rd floor. It does not appear that there was ever a stairway to the 3rd floor or to the original 4th floor tower. The 3rd floor attic is in fairly good shape. It is just a large open room with the exception of the tower area. The flooring is in pretty good shape and it looks like the roof only has a few leaks. The biggest area of concern is near the windows which are not even close to being water tight. The ceiling is over 7 foot which will allow us to open it up if we can figure out a configuration for stairway access.

We hope to be able to hire an architect to assist us in doing some further planning for the rebuilding of the West Wing and gaining access to the 3rd floor. Hopefully, they can also help us to plan the access to a rebuilt 4th floor tower. That would be very sweet!


  1. Is this the West Wing that collapsed? My husband and I snuck back there a few years ago when I was doing research for my drawing ( :)

  2. As much as I know you guys want to preserve the historical accuracy, starting at this point is good in that you can make this house as modernly comfortable as you'd want it to be. You've got a great kitchen space, and since the downstairs floor plan has no closets, you definitely want a storage closet for your cleaning supplies and the cook in me would want a pantry.

    You might want to think about installing a central vacuum system, with Amanda's allergies, two long-haired breed dogs, and all those floors. Carrying a vacuum up and down all those floors is hard. Having a central vacuum hose on each floor would make things way easier.

    I think it'd be lovely if you made the attic into a big sewing/craft room and then you could put a spiral metal staircase up to the tower and it could be a reading/embroidery nook! Wouldn't that be awesome?

    And I'd have a bathroom on all three floors, even if it was just a half-bath. I'd also consider a dumbwaiter if your laundry room is going to be on the ground floor. Again, carrying baskets up multiple floors, whew!! If you guys are going to grow old in this house, some of these things are practical viewpoints. Heck, for that matter, you may want to be able to put in an elevator or the space for an elevator back there when you rebuild your back staircase.

    Just my two cents. I like to share your dream with you, even if my ideas aren't ones you guys would like. I always think of the practical lifting, carrying and cleaning stuff, especially now that I am living in a three story house plus basement!

    I'm following every post you publish, even though I never see you guys. You're missed, I hope you have a free day here and there to socialize soon!


    1. I love your ideas! We just built our own dream house, and did a few of them, like the elevator space. But the spiral staircase to a reading nook - BRILLIANT! What a great house you guys are going to have!

  3. Check out 1534 S. New Jersey (approximately, since I looked on Google Maps). It's a brick two story Italianate with a Second Empire tower. I got to go in this one back when I was at MB when it was vacant and needed help. It looks like someone has rescued it.