April 23 2010 12:00 AM

Property: 1029 Orchard St., Lansing

Owner: Randy Conway

Assessed: $39,400

Owner says: It’s sturdy and has great character

Architecture critic Amanda Harrell-Seyburn says: Tucked away in the Oak Park neighborhood is this handsome residence. Located at the northern edge of the Lansing Eastern High School grounds, this two-story house features an elegant brick exterior and beautiful concrete lintels with intricate detailing. External appearance can dramatically influence a home’s curb appeal and value. Well-maintained brick homes are highly desirable because they nearly always retain and increase their value at a high rate.

Randy Conway’s immaculate brick house on Orchard Street (off Pennsylvania near the intersection of Saginaw Street) might make you think, “farm house.” Rightly so — Conway says he believes the house was built in 1885 and was originally surrounded by pastures. He says the land for the house was bought from the federal government in 1837. Conway bought the house in 1980 after mistaking it for a house he was supposed to look at on a similarly named street on Lansing’s south side.

Conway says the house reminds him of homes he would see in Northern Michigan, where he’s originally from.

“I love the character of it,” he said.

A lesson on brick maintenance by Harrell-Seyburn:

Keep your brick home cleaned and well maintained by properly caring for it with the following steps;

    - Clean weep hole. Located at the bottom of the brick, these holes allow moisture to drain from wall and can become plugged.
    - Keep bricks clean of vegetation. Although ivy looks lovely on a brick facade it can cause damage over time. Remove plants from the surface by cutting, not pulling.
    - See a white finish on the exterior? It is efflorescence, a salt deposit that indicates water penetration in the brick. The best way to clean is with water and a brush. Do not power wash as this will possibly cause damage to the brick. 

    - Check for moisture or damage that indicates water penetration and damage on the exterior.

Brick is very durable and usually lasts at least a century. Due to the extreme freeze/thaw patterns in Michigan, bricks require a higher level of maintenance than in warmer climates.

Repointing is replacing the old mortar with new. It is usually recommended that it be done every 25 to 50 years. In Michigan 25, years is standard. It can be more frequent especially if your home is particularly susceptible to the elements. If a small area requires repointing, it can easily be done by yourself. If a large area or the entire structure requires it seek the expertise of a mason so that it will be done aesthetically and correctly.

Damaged Bricks

Every once in a while a brick or a few will become damaged and require replacement. Select new bricks that are similar in color and texture to the original. This can be a challenge because every batch of bricks is unique. You can easily replace a single brick or a small area by yourself. If a large area requires replacing, seek the expertise of an architect and/or structural engineer as the building may be structurally unsound and an entire wall or more may require complete rebuilding.

“Eye candy of the Week" is our weekly look at some of the nicer properties in Lansing. It rotates each with Eyesore of the Week. If you have a suggestion, please e-mail eye@lansingcitypulse.com or call Neal McNamara at 371-5600 ex. 17.