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Pleasant Home Porch Restoration

Pleasant Home Porch Restoration

The Pleasant Home Foundation recently approached us to repair their damaged porch tiles. While we knew this would not be an easy task, we were thrilled to take on the custom restoration project for this nationally-significant historic home!

According to its National Historic Landmark nomination, Pleasant Home is “one of the earliest and most distinguished examples of the Prairie School.” Situated on the corner of Pleasant Street and Home Avenue in Oak Park, the birthplace of the Prairie Style of architecture, the 1897 mansion is also considered one of the finest designs by prominent architect George Washington Maher. Maher designed the home for John Farson, an investment banker, and it was later sold to Herbert Mills, who made his fortune in the amusement business.

The large front porch of Pleasant Home is shaded by broad hanging eaves, a hallmark of the Prairie Style. During the Farson era of the home, the porch was covered with rugs and carpets. It was the Mills family who tiled the porch in the 1910s.

We used a gloss black glaze to replicate the darker tiles. While beautiful, the tiles initially appeared too new in comparison to the originals. Foregoing chemistry at this point, we used physical abrasion to age the surface. A coarse aluminum oxide grit was placed between two tiles, which were then ground together in a circular motion. This lapping technique proved to be an effective method in quickly and evenly dulling the color.

The red-orange tiles were difficult to replicate as there is significant color variation within every piece. To mimic this effect, we poured several glazes onto the tiles and allowed them to run into each other, resulting in a slightly different appearance each time. The orange itself is also difficult to achieve, as it does not survive at the typical firing temperature of other colors. While not an exact match, the watercolor effect of the replacement tiles complements the character of the originals.



Tony, a local professional, installed the replacement tiles in July 2015. The exterior porch and surrounding Mills Park are both publicly accessible. The Pleasant Home Foundation also offers interior tours and hosts public events throughout the year.