By BARBARA S. ROTHSCHILD
Borough residents Thor W. Nilsen and Camille DiLullo have been chosen to receive the 2002 Joan L. Aiken Historic Preservation Award for Excellence for their two-and-a-half- year project to restore the exterior of their Washington Avenue home to its late 19th-century appearance.
The Haddonfield Preservation Society's executive committee will present the award to the couple on May 18, at 3 p.m., at the King's Court gazebo on Kings Highway.
The award, given in recognition of National Historic Preservation Week, is named for the late Joan Aiken. Aiken, the founder of and former director of the preservation society, initiated Haddonfield's Historic Preservation Awards Program. A resident of the borough for nearly 50 years, she passed away in 2000.
Aiken also spearheaded the drive that resulted in a 1971 ordinance creating the 488-building historic district in the center of town.
The awards are presented to organizations, businesses and individuals for outstanding contributions in the following categories of community historic preservation: restoration, rehabilitation, maintenance, addition to a historic building, remodeling a commercial property, exterior paint colors, beautification to the historic district; shop-front window displays and/or treatments, garden design, landscaping/landscape features, lighting and signage.
Of this year's nominations, the Nilsen-DiLullo home at 100 Washington Ave. was deemed the most outstanding example of preservation, said Carl Nittinger, the society's current executive director.
Nilsen and DiLullo have restored the exterior of their home to its appearance when built in 1888, basing their project on an 1893 pen-and-ink drawing that appeared in a Haddonfield newspaper.
When the couple purchased the property in 1999, the exterior had been extensively altered and modified in a way that did not respect the historic design and materials used in 1888. The exterior had been covered with white aluminum siding, the trim had been painted black, and original porches had been removed, including a second-floor porch on the front of the house.
Nilsen and DiLullo had the siding taken off to reveal the original clapboard and decorative trim. Although a few pieces of the original decorative detail were untouched, moldings around the windows, doors and porches had been removed.
Using the pen-and-ink drawing as a reference, along with information from former owner William Smith and the guidance of local architect Robert Thomson, moldings were re-created to match the original. Turned porch posts, spindles and rails were also re-created based on the 1893 drawing. Lattice work under the porches was custom-made to re-create the small spacing between slats of the original design.
A historically correct standing-seam metal roof was installed on the front porch. The roof over the front bay was replaced with a metal roof that replicates the original.
The house was completely stripped and repainted based on the original colors found underneath the siding.
A light yellow was selected as the base color. According to Victorian painting guides of the time, areas of the house that projected from the main block were to be lighter in color, while the window trim was to be a darker color to appear recessed. Projected areas of the house are painted cream, while the window trim is dark green. Dark red and gold were selected as accent colors.
"The colors really help out a great deal," Nittinger said.
The original stained-glass transom panel over the front door was repaired. Stained-glass windows in the stairwell that had been lost were re-created based on the original front-door transom panel.
The original front doors were refinished and the original hardware was restored and repolished.