1025 Kirby Street, The Bourge Home
This modest but charming full-front porch craftsman cottage has had really only three owners in its long history. Megan Guillory and Jeff Bourge, the current owners, acquired the home in 2013.
The original owner-builders were Mary Frances LaGrange Hoover and husband W. D. Hoover in 1902, and the widowed Mrs. Hoover herself sold the house to Melanie Pesson just before her death. The third owners purchased the house directly from Ms Pesson, and are just now completing an upgrade renovation of its excellent 112 year old bones.
The exterior of the home is sawmill-craftsman in style, featuring the paneled one-story Lake Charles columns on the wide front porch. The lumber from interior framing to exterior drop clapboards came from Calcasieu pine and cypress at a time when Lake Charles was home to almost two dozen working sawmills and major woodworking shops that processed locally sourced timber.
For over 80 years, the local timber and lumber industry had been producing dimensional lumber, shingles and millwork not only for local use in construction, but also for other markets. The biggest market was Galveston, Texas, a city rebuilding itself after the disastrous 1900 Great Storm which wrecked the island. Much of what are now the historic districts of that city was rebuilt with Calcasieu lumber. Unfortunately, the area’s timber resources were literally cut out by the 1930’s and the sawmills shut down or relocated to other areas.
The Bourges contemplated upgrades to the house to ready it for life in the 21st century including taller doorways, utility and insulation upgrades, some interior adjustments and realignments to add storage and improve circulation. In addition, they improved plumbing to add a master bath and otherwise provide enhanced plumbing. However, they respected and restored most of the existing historic elements including moldings, pocket door, original lighting fixtures, siding and other exterior elements.
The third owners committed themselves to the upgrade of one of the few remaining near-original un-renovated properties on prestigious Kirby Street, a showcase street for the National Register Charpentier Historic District in Lake Charles.
While some 400 structures are located in the District, few offered as much opportunity to revive and renovate as did this charming property.