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Years of extensive restoration performed by the owners of a mid-1800s Greek-revival house in the historic Village of Poland, Ohio, came to a tragic end when a devastating fire broke out one afternoon. While the fire destroyed the house beyond repair, it also ignited a resilience within the owners to rebuild their home with the same degree of care and craftsmanship they had put into restoring the original house.

The village of Poland is a study in traditional architecture, with well-maintained examples of almost every house style of the 19th and 20th centuries. This house is situated near the former childhood home of President William McKinley, and is surrounded by a variety of Italianate, Second Empire, and colonial houses. One of the homeowners helped write the village’s historic preservation guidelines, so the couple understood well the importance of preserving the character of the historic district.

After the owners decided to rebuild, a mutual friend put us in contact. Although they had worked with other architects over the years during renovations, this undertaking was of a different scale entirely. The homeowners wanted to remain faithful to the original home’s style, proportions, and siting, which took advantage of the gently rising lot and offered views of nearby Yellow Creek. In one of our meetings, the owners shared with me, “This community was so supportive during the renovation, and during the loss, and that motivated us to build a home that honored the spirit and character of our town.”

Planning makes perfect

Although rebuilding was unanticipated, the structural damage caused by the fire left no other option. While the choice to design the new house in a Greek-revival style seems an obvious one, the new house would not just be a replica of the old. When the owners first approached…

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