The city of Detroit and its older metros are full of 19th- and early 20th-century homes waiting for the right set of hands to fix them up. And as the housing market recovers, the demand for old-growth wood and period fixtures is returning.
"Some owners don't start out as preservationists. Joseph C. MacLean, an attorney, picked out an 1873 Victorian in a historic district of Northville, Mich., because he and his wife, Margie, liked its simple style and location near downtown. After buying the house in December for $460,000, Mr. MacLean became interested in the home's history and started researching it, eventually hiring an architect who lived across the street to restore it...
The project isn't extensive—mostly adding bathrooms and a back porch, and opening up the rooms. But staying faithful to the authentic materials, including recovering original floors, window trims and framing boards from 400-year-old trees, will cost about $200,000. "It takes more craftsmanship," says the architect, Greg Presley, who does about 10 such projects a year."