Classic Turn-of-the-Century Capitol Hill Iron Stairs

On a recent walk through the neighborhood, I slowed down and took a close look at a lot of the cast iron front stairs at a handful of houses on my walk.  Many of the houses in these pictures have a mix of original cast iron and newer iron elements.  Many include fully-original cast iron elements with iron connecting components.


A unique old light switch

Home history buffs like me should get a kick out of this picture.  I am in about 20+ different houses here in Capitol Hill every week.  So, I see all sorts of unique and historic features. This is the kind of stuff that I think is really cool. This is the least fancy, but coolest from a functional perspective. It is an old rag wire wood handle light switch that just hangs from the asbestos insulated conductor. The switch just hangs there. It is kind of like a keyless fixture with a pull string, but in this case the switch itself is inside of the “string!”

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Historic Cast Iron and Steel Handrail Restoration in Capitol Hill

Historic Cast Iron and Steel Handrail Restoration in Capitol HIll

Restoration of historic handrails is an important part of our work here in Capitol Hill. Stair and handrail components like the ones we restored in this project are some of the beautiful architectural characteristics that make Capitol Hill unique.

The steel railings on this project had been replaced since the original construction; however, when they were replaced, the handrails were not properly welded or treated.

We reinstalled the handrails and welded them fully. In other photos (see below) you can see the closeup views of the weld joints. The weld joints previously were not treated properly. The slag had not been removed after the weld bead cooled. Painting directly to slag does not work because the paint will not stick to slag. So, over the years, following the previous repair, the joints had rusted through.

At the few locations where the joints had not rusted completely, the welds held but sheared off the cast iron post. We reattached everything and re-welded and treated the connections at all the posts.

Condition of newel post before the GLBC repair.

Condition of newel post before the GLBC repair.

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