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   A THOUGHTFUL PROCESS  Cliff Schlothauer’s Masterpiece
 
 
 
2011 - Volume 1 Issue 1
Casas Bonitas
Feature Home
 
Article: Joe Burgess
Photos: Bill Faulkner
 
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My primary goal with this house was simply to save a 1907 landmark listed in the National Register of Historic Places,” states homeowner Cliff Schlothauer. “The effort garnered more attention than I ever anticipated, which made a difference, I think, in the final outcome. Before the remodeling project was even totally completed, historic society visitors from as far away as Washington, D.C, were touring the property.” Cliff was honored by the Doña Ana Historical Society, receiving its 2009 award for Noteworthy Renovation of a Historic Property.

    The owner of the original house, Thomas Tate, was vice president of the local lumberyard. The builder was Chris Hansen, a native of Denmark, and he probably contributed to the mix of styles in the home. In the 1950s, the house was owned by the Papen family, but by the time it was purchased by Cliff in 2008, it had fallen into a state of disrepair.
   
  Photo Captions

1.) Owner Cliff Schlothauer stands before stain glass panels rescued from a Victorian mansion in Detroit.
   
  Resources

Builder:
McGinley Construction
Kevin McGinley
575-523-9140
mcginley-construction.com

Cabinetry:
W. Kowalski Inc.
Walt Kowalski
575-524-1787
wkowalski.com

Floors:
Stout Hardwood Floors
575-527-4143
stout-hardwood-floors.com

Lighting & Fans:
Designer’s Mart
575-523-9223
915-778-9223
designers-mart.com

Landscaping:
Monty Sarvo
575-993-6521
gardening@mvld.com
“The elevated sunroom was one of the reasons for buying the house,” Cliff relates. “The open, diagonal view of Pioneer Women’s Park is special. In the formal living room, the multi-paned Palladian window with keystone arch in façade meant that someone involved with the original construction understood Old World elegance. Equally unusual for Las Cruces was the curvilinear, Dutch Colonial Revival parapet over the side bay window and the half-timbered front gable.”

A lot of thought went into every step of the remodel, both by the owner and the contractor. The work began with a solid plan, the result of much research, but as the project progressed and a previously unknown architectural detail was uncovered, decisions and plans became a great deal more flexible. Every effort was made to bring the home up to current standards and green building practices while remaining true to the structure and style of the building. Heavy insulation and thermal windows were added, and recycled materials were utilized wherever possible. Other objectives, of course, included making the home functional for the current owner and creating a venue for showcasing the antiques he had accumulated.

The original house was well built, but it was already over a hundred years old. Even the fact that it was constructed on the valley floor had created some settling issues. Early in the process, building contractor Kevin McGinley had to stabilize the walls and ceilings before proceeding.

The guest bath utilizes American style period fixtures and décor, but the master bath is traditional French and the upstairs bath is traditional English with a Victorian double slipper tub. The stairway connecting the two floors, which was essentially hidden in a closet, was widened, requiring relocation of a wall and revamped landings, and new handrails and posts were added. Soapstone countertops were chosen over granite, because of historic significance and the visual softness and touch. Cliff selected the particular striations in the kitchen countertop directly from the Vermont quarry, and it was specifically engineered, along with the cabinets, to fit the curvilinear wall of the kitchen.

The sleeping porch was converted into a library and the windows were replaced with stained glass panels that Cliff had picked up from a Victorian mansion in Detroit. When the damaged ceiling was removed, an original bead-board ceiling above it was discovered and that ceiling was repaired and left exposed.

The upstairs area comprises about 1500 square feet of the 4000 total in the main house. The upstairs was not a converted attic nor was it built as a second floor. It was more of a quasi ballroom used as needed for entertainment. It resembles a European loft with sloped ceiling and could be used as a master suite or children’s room. It remains open from front to back with freestanding bookcase dividers and brightened up with skylights. With the downstairs described as elegant, the upstairs, then, would be cozy and relaxed.

The garage was originally used as a buggy and horse stall and probably more often as a horse, cow and chicken stall. The maid’s quarters were remodeled as a guesthouse that includes a loft area.

“I have been very selective in the furnishings,” continues Cliff. “The house is very public, especially at night with the lights on, and so it is important to have the right pieces visible from the street.” Most of Cliff’s antiques are from the 1700s and 1800s and are accompanied by a story, of course. For instance, a partial unfinished painting of Empress Carlota of Mexico hangs in the dining room. Edgar Griggs from La Posta was in Mexico at the end of the Revolution, during the sack of Chapultepec Castle. Using a knife, a looter had sliced off the top of the unfinished full-length canvas, which was sold to Griggs and later to Cliff. The dining room also has an 1865 French Empire style gold-over-bronze crystal chandelier from Paris that compliments the Maximilian era in Mexico. Cliff had the chandelier wired for electricity while retaining the original bronze candleholders, thus allowing for candlelight dinners. Cliff also latched onto a map table from the same period with the royal crests of Mexican Emperor Maximilian I.

“I have long been interested in Spanish colonial Mexican art and purchased a large Santo of Michael the Archangel from a private collector in Mexico. It had been in a country setting church and includes the original wings, European glass eyes and was detailed in gold and silver leaf paint.” The sword-wielding Santo stands boldly at the end of Cliff’s remodeled hallway.

“I also like the combination of the colors red and gold and while visiting China about 10 years ago, I was attracted to the two Chinese cabinets standing in the living room. The cabinets are intricately carved, illustrating legends with figures, such as the devil tempting a bride and ladies in waiting shielding her from evil.”

A simple, old-fashioned theme is Cliff’s goal for the landscaping. A simplified English garden style works best with this turn of the century traditional Tudor revival house. The patios are built without solid surfaces and thus are more earth-friendly. There is a large shade tree and people can move easily between the front and back yard areas, allowing the entire yard space to be utilized for large functions. The eastward facing porch is elevated, which provides slightly cooler air, and ceiling fans now enhance the comfort level, even when there is little natural air movement.

“Las Cruces has a subtle character,” Cliff concludes, “and this historic district was the first suburbia with the town’s first paved street. A hundred years ago, this was a harsh, undeveloped area and life was hard. Every brick in the district was brought in by rail and so building under those conditions was a real feat. I am pleased to have contributed to the next hundred-year era of this fascinating district by upgrading and preserving the Tate house.” ///
 
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