Just-A-Start Helps Restore East Cambridge Homes

By Sal Mancini, 2013

In conjunction with the Cambridge Historical Commission, Just-A-Start has completed several projects in East Cambridge to meet the needs of low-income homeowners while maintaining historical authenticity. JAS has maintained the late-19th-century aesthetic of these East Cambridge structures while meeting modern building code requirements and the accessibility needs of their clients. Contractors were chosen based on their ability to replicate the 19th-century look or, in some cases, use traditional materials to refurbish the houses.

JAS YouthBuild crews designed and installed a wheelchair-accessible ramp on a house built in the late 1800s. Wheelchair ramps were nonexistent at the time of this building’s construction. Since the need was there, it was necessary to build a ramp that satisfied handicapped requirements while maintaining the integrity of the house’s 19th-century look. Historical paint colors were chosen as well.

Just-A-Start’s Home Improvement Program (HIP) is currently involved in refurbishing a mansard-roofed, two-story row house. The building’s front façade has been clad in clear cedar clapboard, as most buildings of this era were originally. The windows are wooden with an aluminum exterior sheathe (to improve energy efficiency), and all have 4 lights (4 individual panes of glass across 2 sashes), like all of the buildings in this group of row houses. A craftsman will be installing new canopy brackets to replace the wrought iron brackets. A mason repointed the front foundation with a traditional lime-based mortar and took great care replacing the damaged bricks.