My withdrawal symptoms had subsided with the discovery of the Tavern, thank goodness, with not only restoring this magnificent home (it was featured in the June 2014 edition of Early American Life magazine entitled "Yankee Occupation"), but four more in the meantime. Including an Edwardian cottage, Eastlake Victorian, a Second Empire and a late vernacular Victorian that had been updated with Arts & Crafts embellishments. The photos below will give you a taste of what we were up to!
The chapter on my Greek mistress will now begin! We were ready to embark on a new journey after several years of working on the Tavern and doing these side restorations. I just didn’t realize how long and how involved the next one was going to be. Again, my wandering little spouse had come upon needy relics that were begging for a revival of their former glories. Where were some of these gems that were in need of a good polish, Lynchburg. Settled in 1757 at the base of the Blue Ridge mountains, it was named for its founder John Lynch who established a ferry service at a ford on the James River. It is also known as the “City of Seven Hills” because of the quite steep inclines that rise from the river bank. This small city exhibits quite a range of architectural finds from early Federal structures to an Art Deco skyscraper. The story begins in January of 2010 when we called a realtor who specialized in historic properties to start the search. Since we owned a later Georgian/early Federal home, something different was in order. He emailed us several properties to review and select the ones that most appealed to us. Only five properties jumped off the page and one in particular. The realtor gave us a tour around the main historic districts encircling the transforming downtown district. All were in various states of restoration, re-muddling, etc. The one I wanted to see the most was saved for last and the realtor really didn't want to show it to us. He said it needed "allot of work", which didn't deter me. To most customers that would make them not want to even see the house, but that intrigued me more.
As we walked in one thing was evident, the house was a wreck! Plaster falling down, woodwork missing or badly damaged from years of neglect and layers of paint. However, it was 1,000% better than what it was just 15 years prior. The pictures I show below make it look like a palace compared to the ones I was shown when a group of concerned citizens acquired it. A non-profit was formed to bring this house back to its former glory and help stabilize the neighborhood. When they took possession of the house, it was nothing short of a disaster! I need to back up first and explain what happened over the years. The original owners lost the home after the Civil War, it was then purchased by different people through the decades including a Mr. Hutter in the latter portion of the 19th century who divided the land during a massive building frenzy in Lynchburg. He was the main person behind the building of the bridge connecting downtown with what is now the Rivermont Avenue neighborhoods. By the 1950s this area was in decline and the house was subdivided into six apartments. When the non-profit took over all four chimneys had collapsed into the structure ripping the heart pine floors to shreds below, windows were missing, the exterior was covered in asphalt shingles, the brick and flagstone flooring that once graced the English basement was gone, etc., etc. They restored the chimneys, put on a new standing seam roof, stripped the shingles off and re-milled and installed siding to match the original, rebuilt windows and did a massive stabilization of the structure itself. I’m not sure I would have taken on this project if all that had not been done. A great applause should be given to organizations like this who resurrect buildings that have lost favor. Without people and groups like them, many more pieces of history will be lost.
I just remember walking through for the first time and seeing what it could be. My other half wasn’t as convinced as I was. It took time to go through the numbers and talking with the board members before "everyone" was comfortable and I mean my spouse! It took until June to work out all the details and "plan of attack" before we closed. As I get into our story, or trials and tribulations as I should say, we just didn’t know all of what we were going to be getting into. Things you think will be easy or self-explanatory, turn out not to be. Projects such as this test your fortitude and relationship…lol, but in the end, are very much worth it!