Beaumont, TX; April 28, 2023 – Work on restoring the McFaddin-Ward House’s massive front porch, led by the historical restoration experts at Oak Grove Restoration Company, began a few months after one of the most devastating hurricanes this area has ever seen – 2017’s Hurricane Harvey. Decades of Southeast Texas rain and humidity had taken their toll on the original longleaf pine porch boards, and over time, the porch slowly sank, causing rot and a cascade of other problems on the façade of the historic house.
Before removing the old decking boards, Oak Grove needed to raise the porch columns upward about an inch to provide access to boards beneath the column bases. The team devised an ingenious way of attaching the columns to the main beam surrounding the porch roof, so that when it was raised, all 18 columns along with the porch railing lifted simultaneously.
“We had to figure out a way to jack up that whole deck high enough so that we could slip the boards from underneath the column base,” said Tim Lavoie with Oak Grove. “If you just jack up on the beam, the columns will come loose.”
Temporary braces were inserted to hold everything up and allow Oak Grove to focus on the porch floorboards.
The original boards were removed carefully to be kept intact and preserved. Before installing the new floorboards, additional joists were added to the foundation. Made of rot-resistant Accoya® wood, the new floorboards were exact replicas of the original porch’s tongue and groove wood pattern. Millwork was performed at Oak Grove’s shop in Virginia with custom-made cutterheads used to replicate the original wood groove pattern.
One of the biggest challenges was ensuring the new boards met correctly at the corners. To ensure perfection, the crew completed each side of the porch running to 45° angles at the corners before laying down the lengthy middle section.
“It’s not easy getting everything to match up perfectly,” Lavoie said “You measure as you’re going across to make sure you’re going to end up correctly.”
In addition to the porch floor, expert millwork was required to repair several of the column bases and a massive beam inside of the left corner column, one of the porch’s most critical areas of support. Oak Grove repaired the badly rotted bases using perfectly matched fluted pieces of old growth cypress. Another new beam was also added between the porch floor and the brick chain wall to provide additional support for the columns.