After months and months and months of being stuck in waiting-for-permits limbo, Mark and Charles are finally able to get to the work of putting their house together! I traded some e-mails with Mark last week about the progress and he mentioned something about going shopping for staircases. I promptly invited myself along.
One of the more striking details of Mark and Charles’ recently purchased property has been the absence of the main staircase. Prior to their acquisition, the home was gutted by a developer who had intended to divide it into multiple units. The only evidence of the previously grand staircase is a gaping circular opening in the ceiling and the scar-like zig zag on the exposed brick.
I was running late on Saturday morning, so I had Charles text me the address. It turned out it didn’t really matter that I was a bit late, because the guys got a little lost finding the industrial park tucked away into a corner off of Bladensburg Road. When I arrived, I was greeted by a posse of guard cats and found Mark and Charles leaning over a set of blueprints with Silvio Pronio, president of Northeast Iron Works, Inc. Silvio had been highly recommended by both the architect for this project, as well as a neighbor. Continues after the jump.
A hodge podge of photos on the wood paneled office walls reflects the history of the business. A reproduction of a painting depicts a blacksmiths’ shop, the precursor to wrought iron and steel fabrication work. Silvio points out a handsome young man sitting on the running board of a truck with “Northeast Iron Works” painted on the door. “That’s me, 1951.,” he says. Other framed images highlight the stylish stainless steel staircases custom built for a condo on Capitol Hill priced in the seven figures.
Silvio told us the story of having left Abruzzo, Italy following World War II. “Europe was a mess and I needed to work.” The business was started in 1945.
I had great difficulty concealing my enthusiasm for Silvio’s work. He asked if I’d like to take more pictures and escorted us into the workspace behind the office. This cavernous building housed various trucks and huge pieces of equipment for cutting and shaping different types of metal. In addition to stairs, the company also creates railings, and security and parking gates. They perform relatively small jobs, as well as large commercial projects.
The new staircase that will reside in Mark and Charles’ home will be shaped in a half circle made of steel. Its modern design will contrast the woodwork and brick walls crafted by Victorian era masons. In a period of construction currently dominated by pre-fabricated factory made objects, these stairs will be hand built and will serve as an artistic focal point.
Northeast Iron Works has a website, where you can see examples of their work and request a free estimate: www.northeastironworks.com