c. 1827 Federal – Caret, VA – $314,500

For Sale
Added to OHD on 12/13/16 - Last OHD Update: 3/9/18 - 28 Comments
11965 Tidewater Trl, Caret, VA 22436

Map: Aerial View











Located in a deer-park like setting in Upper Essex County, an area of large farms and Estates is this stunning and charming Flemish bond brick home. It is thought to have been built in early 1800s by the Rennolds family. It has been well maintained and all systems updated. Extensive renovations were made in 1980s which included new brick floor in the English basement, all new wiring new plumbing heating and cooling, new raised seam metal roof, two chimneys and all six fireplace were redone. two period out buildings add charm and storage. One building has space for one car, and room for a work shop. The 2nd is a Dove Coat. The first floor consists of a cozy but modern kitchen with granite counter tops but with the warmth of gathering in front of the fireplace. Across the hall is a FIRST floor BED room/den with fireplace & book cases.Between the kitchen & the bedroom is a laundry room & full bath. The 2nd floor boasts a lovely center hall with double doors at each end. On one side of the hall is living room with heart of pine floors, and unique moldings. Equally nice is the dining room is across the hall with it own hand carved moldings.. The 3rd floor has two bed rooms & full bath.
Contact Details
Lou Johnson, Lou Elam Johnson      (804) 270-9440
Links & Additional Info
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28 Comments on c. 1827 Federal – Caret, VA – $314,500

  1. Oh wise ones of architectural history, would you please tell us something more about this house. I know there aren’t many pictures but from what you see, what style would call this and do you see any additions or renovations? IMO it seems to be missing some architectural details. Also what do you think of the outbuilding?

    • Would the roof have been shingle originally and would the front entrance staircase have been a split staircase to either side of the second story front porch? IMO, The mantel on the last picture looks a little like someone glued some string and cardboard on it and painted it.

    • Something about this house doesn’t look right. The “shed” dormers are unusual for the period and area; more often found on earlier gambrel-roof houses than houses like this. I’d wager the original dormers were gable-roofed.

  2. Can anyone explain why the front door seems so high above ground level? looks kind of awkward or is that specific to an architectural style? Long time reader/visitor first time commenter. thanks

    • Just a somewhat educated guess, but I would say probably the lower level was for the servants and the upper level was for the family that lived there. Also, it appears to be somewhat close to the river and sea level, so the ground level might be more of a sacrificial level for flooding.

      I am not sure how high the house is above sea level, but that might be a reason as well. So, if the ground level was for servants and if it flooded, “no big deal”. Just send them back down to clean out the mess after it dries out and keeps things nice and tidy upstairs. It is a different world we live in now of course, but back then it would be as expected.

    • “Raised basements” were common throughout the coastal mid-Atlantic and South. Partially due to water-table issues (can’t dig down too far) and partially so that you have natural light in the basement. That’s often where cooking and other domestic chores were done. Further into the coastal south there were no basements at all; houses (frame, not brick) often sitting on brick piers, and cooking was done in an external kitchen building. As an added feature, the raised basement gave you a cooler place to go in the summer while still not being entirely underground.

  3. Well, it wasn’t quite so cold & heartless as that. This house has an English basement, which was common at that time. Houses in the South did not (& still do not mostly) have below-ground cellars so a ground-floor basement was often necessary. It contained kitchens & storage rooms, generally, sometimes servants’ sitting rooms. (There is also no attic here.) The Rappahannock is far enough away that it’s very unlikely the house is in a flood zone.

    The formal public rooms were on the 2nd floor, where they caught better breezes in hot Southern summers, so naturally that’s where we find the entrance. This is not a graceful stair by any means; it’s awkwardly proportioned, but its existence isn’t unusual at all.
    Examples: https://www.google.com/search?q=camden+sc+historic+houses&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjo28mn6bPLAhWKQyYKHSN6CAQQsAQINQ&biw=1599&bih=921#imgrc=DQ-uNd-5nf_gfM%3A


    • I thought English basements were partly below and partly above ground? Maybe the pictures don’t do it justice, but it doesn’t look like anything is below ground to me…

      • Some are, some aren’t below grade. Merriam-Webster: “a high basement that is usually mainly above ground, is often adapted to living quarters or domestic offices, but does not contain the principal entrance of the house.” In some earlier houses (& Creole cottages) perhaps horses stabled underneath but in one such as this, it would be a surprise. As Anne says, you entered by the side door shown, so I doubt wagons were pulled underneath the porch, since there’s no entry there — which is a little odd; usually a 1st-floor door would be placed below the 2nd-story one.

        I think this is essentially a vernacular design as evidenced by the slightly ungainly porch & outside stairs and by the mantel in the last photo. That gives it a unique charm. It has its own lovely personality that I find very attractive.

  4. The roof is defi,italy replacement, original may have been slate tiles. Porches were raised in this way to allow a carriage to pull under, or wagons, etc.
    Often the horses as were stalled uder the house.
    Typically servants would use side or rear entrances or staircases.
    The porch style is true period, probably did not have a split staircase.

  5. I have learned so much, you guys are the best. I thought that the first floor was the summer living quarters which is what I have seen in Georgia. They did this because it was too hot upstairs and the all masonry bottom floor was cooler.
    OK, but what about the interior? I feel like a whole lot of woodwork was removed from the original structure or am I off on that?

  6. I’m amazed this house hasn’t been snapped up. It’s such a great antique place & the price very reasonable. There’s someone out there for this prize! If I were 25 years younger, it would be me.

  7. I appreciate another look at this handsome Federal period house on a raised basement. The front stairs leading to a second floor entrance is a dead giveaway that the formal rooms were raised a story above grade, and that the ground floor was intended for servants. This type of layout is still common throughout the South today in “Lowcountry style” or reversed floorplans. During the early 19th century, there were a few reasons for raising the main living areas. In low lying areas, the possibility of floods were certainly a concern, but the main reasons seem to be to catch better breezes in hot summer climates and to get above the noise and filth of street level in more urban areas. In areas where a high water table made digging a basement impractical, either a half (English) basement was used or the basement was built above grade. The brick appears laid in Flemish bond except in a couple of the closeup pictures where English bond is seen in one area, and in another pic showing a poorly done repair using common bond and Portland cement above a window (possible lintel issue). The metal roof is a practical choice even if probably not correct, and the shed dormers would have been fair less common than dormers with gable tops.

  8. Living in Virgina I see houses like this all the time and I hate the aspect of the raised floating porch. It was created to have guests enter in the well appointed rooms while the lover lever (English basement) was used for the kitchen and other non common rooms.

    It’s beautiful for what it is, I just don’t like what it is.

  9. The description contains a questionable statement. Just for the record, one cannot add a period building unless an existing period building is moved to the property. The two outbuildings in the pictures look old, so they may be period. Period means made at the time that the style was the new fashion. If one builds a copy of a period building, it is a reproduction, even if old wood is used. If it is new, but made in the style and or with the construction techniques of a period building, it should say so. Although this listing has not done this example, it is like saying hardwood floors when the floors are laminate. I know I am a purist, but I don’t even say hardwood floors for old pine floors because pine is not a hardwood. Hardwoods comes from trees that lose their leaves in winter.

  10. It’s an interesting home. As we all know each era in history has it’s own political correctness and culture. We have ours in 2016, and they had theirs in the 1700’s/18oo’s
    with greater changes of distinction in the 1900’s until now.
    It is what it is.
    Now is the time to preserve history through the preservation of these homes for as long as they will endure in our timeline and under our care.

  11. There is a similar home for sale now in Columbia, VA which does have the split stair referenced in an earlier comment and slate roof and English basement. Those details seemed to be replaced during this home’s “renovation”….which is too bad since these homes can be charming and probably date to late 18th century prior to 1800.

  12. Wow those were quite the conversations, very interesting. For the right buyer this is a nice house, not my style but nice house and property, never the less.

    • Looking at the aerials it is surrounded by timberland, one of them, I think it is zillow shows what appears to be a recent harvest, slightly greener and replanted in the Trulia image. Usage and ownership of the surrounding property would be a definite concern to me, one acre does not give much protection

  13. The house looks beautiful, what I can see of it. Terrible photos. No wonder this house has not sold. I would find it awkward to have the kitchen in the basement, but perhaps that’s how this house lives. It is misleading for the realtor to say the house is tucked into 200 acres, without saying whether that land is preserved. I thought at first the house was on 200 acres. Anyway, the house looks well-preserved, a bit quirky, maybe, but in a lovely location. I love these old Virginia houses. Price seems a little high for only 1 acre, though. I like the windows with their deep sills, the fireplace mantles, the floors and the moldings. Wish there were a photo of the stairs.

  14. Hello.
    This beautiful house from the early 1800’s is typical of its time and place. Most of the architectural questions have already been answered, but a few have not, so here are some comments. As usual, I am long-winded, but they are based on my 50 years in preservation:

    The owners have completed a very professional ‘restoration’ on this home, allowing its dramatic isolation to dominate the clearing.

    One of the problems facing anyone working with a home like this is its ‘single pile’ structure: Just one room deep. It is also just one room on either side of the central hall, called a ’hall passageway parlor’ plan. The original builders placed all their money on the front wall, its Flemish brickwork, the entry staircase, and handsome interior woodwork. There were no significant ‘public’ rooms on the first or third floors, so there was no grand staircase.

    In the restoration-renovation, the kitchen remained in the basement, as it had been, or they would have sacrificed one of the two formal rooms. When first built, the kitchen would have been the provenance of servants or slaves, so a closed staircase to prevent cooking smells from entering the principal rooms was required. In addition, the idea of a ‘dining room’ was relatively new. Many expensive homes still did not have a dedicated dining room, relying instead on movable banquet tables, which could be taken apart and used as side tables when not in use.

    Any addition would threaten the integrity of the restored structure, and risk reducing its major impact by spreading it out. I would not have any problem with a basement dining room.

    This English basement is unusually high, making the house taller and more dramatic, and that may have been its primary purpose. As already noted, they were common in areas with damp ground, or the water table high. It also allowed ‘family rooms’ to catch any breezes, and reduced the numbers of flying bugs likely to enter

    The roof was almost certainly wood shingled when this house was new. Virginia slate quarries were not developed until the 1830’s. Prior to that, most of the slate for roofing came from Wales, and comparatively costly.

    The standing seam metal roof on the house is a nineteenth century style development. Standing and flat seamed copper and lead roofs were used on very expensive public buildings and mansions in the 1700’s, but again, almost certainly beyond the budget of this house.

    The Flemish bond brickwork on the main facade was expensive, and marks this house as one of quality. It also indicates, with the impressive exterior staircase, the house’s principle facade. There are repairs, but generally, all of this home’s brickwork is in remarkable condition.

    The exterior staircases are appropriate for the period, and may even be based on archaeological evidence. Many of the surviving structures from this period have single flights on the principal façade.

    The ‘shed’ dormers are also appropriate for the era and region. They may or may not be original, or based on architectural evidence. Historically they were less expensive and easier to frame than gabled dormers.

    The mantles are folk interpretations of popular styles. They may or may not be original, but they are fine folk art.

    Finally, I know of only one house where the horses were stabled in the same building as the formal living quarters. Belcourt Castle, in Newport, R.I., was designed for Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont by Richard Morris Hunt, who was taking time off from designing new chateau for the Vanderbilt family. It is one of the largest of Newport’s great houses. There are architectural barriers to the flies and the smells of the stables.

    In every other house of which I am familiar, the grooms, carriage staff, etc., would have to live with horses, flies and manure in the stables, not the ‘Family.’ In addition, I have yet to see a basement tall enough to allow horses to stand upright.


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