1784 – Charles Town, WV – $995,000

For Sale
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Added to OHD on 8/17/19   -   Last OHD Update: 1/6/20   -   90 Comments

296 Piedmont Ln, Charles Town, WV 25414

Map: Aerial

  • $995,000
  • 3 Bed
  • 2.5 Bath
  • 4762 Sq Ft
  • 29 Ac.
Financing fell through back on the market at a very attractive new price!!Perhaps" the finest example of a restored Palladian style residence in all of the Shenandoah Valley. " A once in a lifetime opportunity for that selective client to obtain, enjoy, and preserve this significant landmark. The written word will fail to illuminate this architectural masterpiece, you must visit to appreciate and adsorb this historical gem. By appointment only!!
Contact Information
Dan Anderson, Greentree Associates
(304) 876-3737
Links, Photos & Additional Info


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90 Comments on 1784 – Charles Town, WV – $995,000

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  1. StevenFStevenF says: 190 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1969 Regency
    Nashville, TN

    The rooms look massive. Lovely job, but I’m a little confused about the section of the wall below the chair rail. Despite the fine job done, it leaves me cold for some reason and I can’t quite say why. It could simply be because the pictures were taken on a cloudy day and everything seems permeated with gray.

    7
    • KLeigh says: 23 comments

      Though there isn’t a good close up of the walls the area below the railing appears to be faux marble painting in greys/blues and maybe greens and some reddish brown. The combination is used on the stairs also. The baseboard is painted with a brown combination. Different areas appear to be in better condition than others perhaps giving a dingy look in some photos and lighting. Probably looks great in person. Admirable that it has been preserved since it retains great character for the spaces. I like the bathroom design..

      4
    • Joseph Rice says: 348 comments

      It looks as though it has original painted decoration, and was left untouched. It does look as though while not furnished to period, they did keep the feel of the original by not “over furnishing”. Even wealthy homes did not have the amount of stuff we are used to seeing. And while I usually don’t see a reason for attempting “old” looking baths and kitchens, the bathroom idea is very clever and effective.

      6
    • Boudreaux says: 11 comments

      Looks to me as if wall paper has been recently or at some point removed , possibly going to paint that area of the wall to match the area over the rail. Just a SWAG

      2
  2. PepperReed says: 56 comments

    Holy WOW! Just amazingly beautiful. When can I move in?

    6
    • PepperReed says: 56 comments

      This link has some history, photos and floorplans, and property maps. The photo shows the ‘porch’ on the front of the house. Much historical interest in the area.
      http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/wv0088/

      6
      • Cathy says: 2194 comments

        IMO, this house needs its front porch back in place!

        9
        • Diane says: 538 comments

          I was puzzled by the huge black steps that didn’t seem balanced – now I know why. Thanks for the old picture showing the porch. For this price and for saying it’s restored, I’m surprised it wasn’t replicated UNLESS the porch was a later addition and they didn’t think it had historical merit. Massive home with wonderful furnishings. It “feels” like people should be dressed in period clothes.

          5
        • Lisa says: 1 comments

          They didn’t typically have porches on homes when this one was built. It would have been an addition in the 1800’s. I do love a good porch though 🙂

          5
      • StevenFStevenF says: 190 comments
        OHD Supporter

        1969 Regency
        Nashville, TN

        Good sleuthing! I like the porch, but the house looks good with or without it. At least with it removed, you can see the lovely pediment and fanlight over the door.

        2
      • Kelly, OHDKelly, OHD says: 11723 comments
        Admin

        1901 Folk Victorian
        Chestatee, GA

        Thanks PepperReed!

        9
  3. Karen_the_bookworm says: 21 comments

    This house left me rather cold also. I think the problem is that it is so monochromatic. This would be stunning with large, colorful rugs.

    2
    • Cathy says: 2194 comments

      Yes, I think that’s it, incl. the front door end of the entrance hall. It’s in need of more rugs! The rooms which have them look much more inviting to me. I can usually look at a totally bare house, & not get the ‘cold’ vibe, but not this house, for some reason. In reality, it’s a lovely house, but needs rugs & more wall decor/paintings.

  4. julles says: 530 comments

    I love the house and I have a few questions about it. Was the porch original because I think it was gorgeous on the house? Second, why is the front entry hall so wide? Third, were those the original colors on the woodwork or popular colors for the day because it looks very monochromatic and neutral to me and I thought they used brighter colors at the time?

    1
    • Frank D. Myers says: 64 comments

      Halls were used as summer living rooms as well as for entertaining in addition to serving as passageways. Besides, the bigger the hall the bigger the impression created.

      6
  5. Cathy says: 2194 comments

    The entrance hall struck me as stark, but once in the various rooms, I liked the house better. I also believe that is faux marbling beneath the hall’s chair rail.

    1
    • Jbilly says: 45 comments

      I think instead of faux marbling they were trying for a worn plaster look…like when you buy an old home after it has sat empty for 30 years. Worn plaster and a nice dull milk paint. I have seen in some homes where people leave the worn plaster on the entire wall, straight to the ceiling…it does make me want to finish it off.
      I do love the bathroom in a cabinet. It is a really neat way to hide modern amenities.
      Truly a lovely home.

      1
  6. MW says: 840 comments

    Wow is right! I love Georgian and Federal colonials and this one looks very nice on the outside. But the insides? Simply stunning in my book. I’m blown away actually. I love that is is not over restored and actually pretty raw in may ways. But is clearly modernized and comfortably livable with a very creative and sympathetic eye. I know it blends a bit heavy on the possible false history thing, but clearly everyone knows that is not an original kitchen, it’s not trying to fool anybody. I love this place. If it was just over in MD (so close!) and a bit more accessible price point for me, I’d be writing a deposit check right now, seriously.

    Schools are rated all 8/10’s too, love that as well. That is also a huge asset, don’t find it too often with old houses I actually like for some reason.

    5
  7. Hoyt Clagwell says: 256 comments

    Oh, I know this house–it was restored/stabilized/remodeled with the help of architect Hugh Newell Jacobson. They deliberately used a very light hand, striving to save as many original materials and finishes as possible. So you get a master bathroom that’s elegantly and discreetly fitted into a large freestanding cabinet, rather than carving a room up, and a kitchen that’s integrated into a room like freestanding furniture.

    7
  8. JOE says: 733 comments

    I’ll just open my piggy bank and pull out $1.9 mil.. If I had that kind of money, I’d buy one of the extraordinary houses that we so often see here that really needs rescuing, and they are often really low in price.
    This house’s interior decor looks like one of those restaurants where they have lots of new woodwork upon which they apply layers of paint. When the paint drys they beat it up so it has that “authentic” look. Maybe this is the real thing, but it isn’t to my taste. I always feel like they need repair.
    What’s with the ruined church and plaque, are they on the property too?
    I just can’t get over the asking price!

    1
  9. Jennifer HT says: 795 comments

    I get the cold vibe some are getting, but it sure is lovely.

  10. Hoyt Clagwell says: 256 comments

    Do I assume by the very functional screen in front of it that the bathroom fireplace is working? A fire right by a deep copper tub? I’d use that constantly. I’d take food and drink in there with me.

    3
  11. JimHJimH says: 4867 comments
    OHD Supporter

    Absolutely awesome house in an area of great early homes. It’s big enough, not too much, and the property gives it privacy and room for the dogs. Not a quibble from me – I even love the vintage kitchen in the 1730 stone section. Probably in a magazine somewhere, as it’s owned by PBS newsman Jim Lehrer.

    6
  12. PIPA67 says: 23 comments

    The kitchen caught my eye, very interesting idea, looks like the stuff I like to do. The bathroom is confusing tho. Is it supposed to fold up to look like a closet when not in use? It’s kind of cool in a modern way. Hoyt, that tub comment you made was my thoughts exactly as soon as I saw it.

    4
  13. Kay says: 66 comments

    This home could be stunning. Just needs a little more furnishings to take away that cold look as some say. I sure would like to give it a try.

  14. HousenutHousenut says: 75 comments

    As others I find it cold. I appreciate the attempt at preserving some of the original faux painting but personally would not want to live with it. I would have restored or reproduced. The only thing I don’t care for at all is the “bath in the cabinet”. Since the room is already taken up by the cabinet and tub holy to me.
    Nice rooms good wide hall for strong summer breezes nice house

    2
  15. ChrisICU says: 23 comments

    All i could think was ‘I hope the next owner doesn’t mess wih this’. I assume in the upstairs rooms that the black lines on the ceiling is the heating, and saw a few vents downstairs, but overall an amazing job hiding heat systems. I didn’t see any sign of cooling systems, though. Thoughts? Also, there’s obviously electricity but again plugs seem impossible to find. Cheers to the owner and architect who did this. BTW, the center halls were used as summer living rooms because they are the only rooms in the house which have front-to-back ventilation. The idea is you open the front and back doors and a nice breeze comes through the house.

    4
  16. Zoomey says: 498 comments

    This looks like a house that was restored to flip. Perhaps not, as Hoyt said above, but it does not look lived in, which gives it that cold feeling. No pictures on the walls, no curtains, neutral colors. The only part that looks lived in is the basement, which has some books and a few other things scattered around. I like the house, but I wonder about the price too. Seems a bit steep for WVa. I’d love to buy it in its pre-restored state. I’d warm it up with curtains and rugs and more color on the walls. It’s a very pretty house, with beautiful bones.

    1
  17. BethanyBethany says: 3322 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1983 White elephant
    Escondido, CA

    That is a fantastic, unique kitchen. Reminds me of an English country house kitchen like you see in Downton, etc. While I’m not a big fan of that unique bathroom, I think the idea is really interesting.

    3
    • TheoD says: 12 comments

      The current front stoop is rather cold and uninviting; almost like an afterthought.
      It does need the original porch entranceway. which gives the house its welcoming charm and integrity.
      The interior seems to bleak to me. I’ve viewed other historical homes in Virginia and the walls were either wallpapered or textured. Tastefuuly done this would give the rooms added warmth.
      The bathroom is modernized accordingly; i.e. a water closet. Surely, it is an improvement to the original period function of using the “chamber pot”?

      2
  18. Jenny McCoy says: 148 comments

    I love this place! The “simplicity” is very appealing to me. Definitely love the copper tub. I think it captures a time gone by very well.

    4
  19. Amanda says: 52 comments

    I felt cold too. and why is nothing hung on the walls, the pictures just sitting on the fireplace. i wanted to love it and always look past the decor. to the “bones” but something just seems off. it is fab, but there is just that little feeling of something not quite right despite how beautiful it is. maybe the time of year, but a little bunch of flowers maybe….

  20. JimHJimH says: 4867 comments
    OHD Supporter

    The HABS info says the scene is “original French paper brought from Paris”. Apparently Zuber and quite old, though I don’t see the pattern online.

    Jacobsen has been fairly well known since the 1960’s for his houses. Unusual for a top-drawer architect to do restoration and “remodeling” work. Probably he had the later porch removed.

    8
    • AJ DavisAJ Davis says: 406 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1850 Italianate, classical
      New Haven, CT

      I read somewhere that the wallpaper is by Dufour Freres and that the story depicted is about “Telemachus.”

  21. Kelly, OHDKelly, OHD says: 11723 comments
    Admin

    1901 Folk Victorian
    Chestatee, GA

    I’m surprised at all the “cold” comments. I see a house that is ripe for wallpaper or paint without having to remove it beforehand. One that isn’t cluttered with peoples stuff so makes the house stand out more rather than focusing on someones belongings.

    11
    • MW says: 840 comments

      Me too. But I can see it. But for me, I also just see the pitential and things that can easily be done to personalize it and warm it up as others have mentioned. Mostly just things like rugs, art, photos, curtains, etc. All stuu you probably would have to or want to supply on your own anyway.

      The house does appear more minimally staged than lived in. Not sure if it was really ever lived in much after the restoration work or not. It might have been a 2nd or 3rd home for somebody and just not used as a primary residence, niw being sold.

      But I see a lot of easy potential in this house. Only easy stuff, all the hard work has already been done as they say, and appears to have been done extremely well. This is a beautiful house as is, and could easily be even better once goven the full lived in treatment.

      2
  22. says: 110 comments

    I would move in just for that kitchen! Love how big all the rooms are as well.

    3
  23. Lori ALori A says: 62 comments
    OHD Supporter

    OK

    I think the bathroom “cabinet” is a unique way of creating a bathroom where there wasn’t one with out demolishing a room for a “box store” bathroom, appears it could be converted back to a regular room space with minor changes if one wished.

    3
  24. BobcatHannah says: 39 comments

    This house is literally everything I’ve ever wanted. And fairly close to DC? Sign me up.

    Also… I NEED that canopy bed. Gotta have it.

    2
    • roxxxroxxx says: 399 comments
      OHD Supporter

      The bed is wonderful and I loved the mural. I love this house period. I don’t find it cold. I think it very elegant and soft. Nothing harsh color wise or too much contrast. I love love it.

      3
  25. Amanda says: 52 comments

    I am one of the “cold” comments, and do love the house, and yes, agree with everything that it is ready for your own ” touch” , its also an almost exact replica of a dolls house my father made for me based on a farmhouse close by to us, ( England) I just cant put my finger on why I get that feeling. I can look past other peoples décor, and style of gardens, maybe I need to go visit!!!

  26. Laurie W. says: 1771 comments

    Nobody has mentioned the black front steps. Are they supposed to be like that? They’re startling & do not blend with the rest of the front at all; I can’t imagine that was original. It’s a lovely house, though I get the “cold” comments people have made; I think it’s due to the un-warm paint colors, the lack of rugs, and sparse furnishing — all of which is easily dealt with if desired. The dining room wallpaper is absolutely stunning & I like it better as is than if they had restored it to “new” condition. I’m not so positive about the kitchen and especially the bathroom — in general I applaud not modernizing rooms totally into the 21st century, but these rooms feel too much like camping out in the 18th. The bathroom strikes me as too tricky. Same for the faux-rough treatment on the dado. Some interesting history on the house & family here: http://www.genealogy.com/forum/surnames/topics/briscoe/63/

    2 comments? Huh?

    • Kelly, OHDKelly, OHD says: 11723 comments
      Admin

      1901 Folk Victorian
      Chestatee, GA

      Laurie, 2 comments was because you misspelled your email address. I’ve fixed it and it’s showing the true amount.

    • Cathy says: 2194 comments

      Yep, I did notice the exterior wide black steps right away, thinking they looked mighty odd, at least to me! But then completely forgot to mention them once I saw the older photo with the porch in place, plus then concentrated on the interior. Brain blip.

    • JimHJimH says: 4867 comments
      OHD Supporter

      Laurie, you’re right about the black porches. It’s explained on the architect’s site that 19th century porches were removed from the front and back, and “replaced with researched 18th century porches”. Georgian houses don’t usually have covered porches, so it’s authentic but the photos there show them painted gray to blend with the foundation. The front porch railings have been removed too. Jacobsen and Lehrer are close friends, so maybe the architect had a 2nd take on it. Too artsy IMO.

      I liked the later porches but it’s not a big deal to replace them.

      6
  27. Cynthia Castleberry says: 17 comments

    I LOVE LOVE the simplicity of the yard…front of the house……just like it sat years ago. Love this house, way out of my price range but will be a stunning home. So little to do here….what a home.

    2
  28. MazamaGrammy says: 353 comments

    I love the wallpaper in the parlor and the creative master bath treatment. Overall, it looks very well preserved, although a bit stark. I would want to put the front porch back. The steps now look like an afterthought and aren’t very welcoming. I would also want to put an area carpet and sideboard in the dining room and area carpets in the bathrooms.

    1
  29. Tommy Q says: 466 comments

    I don’t get this one. I’m sure it is lovely to many folks but it looks run down and a bit shabby to me but what do I know? Seems a lonely place to my eyes but YMMV comes into play here for sure.

    1
  30. JOE says: 733 comments

    I guess that I was a bit aggressive yesterday in my comment, but I still say that for $1.9 million, anyone who has that much money can make a significant difference to many of the houses that we see on this site that aren’t going to make it unless they are rescued by someone who appreciates period houses. The fact that it has only three bedrooms and two baths is hard to comprehend with that square footage too.
    This one is done. I guess that my love of the restoration process, particularly the discoveries that one makes while removing things like paneling, linoleum, drop ceilings, added partitions, paint and all of the other things that cover up the beauty of an old house, makes a house that is done like this has been done unable to make my wish list. I am currently doing a federal townhouse in Baltimore, and the discoveries have been amazing. I feel that a house like this has few discoveries left to make and owning it will not be making a contribution. I am surprised that no-one else has expressed similar views. You have all given me so much pleasure in sharing your views on this property and the others on this site. Many comments have changed my perspective so keep speaking up.
    I will be interested to see, when it sells, what the sold price was if I ever find out.

    • Jean says: 5 comments

      Not everyone has the time or energy to rescue a house. I applaud anyone who is willing and able to preserve a historic house that someone else restored.

      4
  31. MW says: 840 comments

    I agree, looks nicer with the front porch. Hopefully it was torn off in otherwise good condition just for a design decision. It it wasn’t original, it certainly seemed old enough to warrant respect in its own right. If lucky, maybe they saved the main parts and are in storage and go with the house.

    Honestly the back could use a small porch as well. One all the way across the whole back would be nice, but the center window at the stair might make that hard to pull off. So, maybe just a small, low porch. To me, it is always nice to have cover at main doors, especially the front door. Don’t want guests having to stand there in the rain waiting for the door to be answered.

    3
  32. Janet says: 122 comments

    What an interesting house. Hardly any kitchen storage so I assume there’s a large pantry. I’ve never seen a bathroom done like that. While I’m fascinated by its uniqueness I don’t understand the reason for the big doors hiding the modern vanity. Love that copper tub.

    1
  33. Diana Baker says: 12 comments

    What are the black lines on the ceilings above the beds? I love this incredible house along with the stark coldness. The black stairs in front of the house would have to be painted anything but black. Leave the historical wall murals…priceless. I could never get the $$$ to own such a thing…but I can dream every night.

    1
    • ChrisICU says: 625 comments

      Hi Diana the black lines are the heating vents. Instead of the big rectangular vents they use these. It’s similar to ones you sometimes see in office buildings and meant to better hide the vents.

      2
  34. Fellspoiny says: 3 comments

    Wow! I wouldn’t change anything.

    3
  35. JOE says: 733 comments

    After reviewing the most recent posts, I keep seeing discussion of the porch in the old photo. I wonder if the architectural experts might weigh in on whether the porch that was torn down was done so because it wasn’t original, (added before the photo but after original construction), with the black steps being more historically accurate.

    1
    • CharlestonJohn says: 1045 comments

      I’m guessing the front porch was added later and removed as it distracts from the original Georgian front elevation. There’s a belt course on the front elevation that separates the first and second stories. There would be no reason to have done this just to cover it up with a porch. Most Georgian houses didn’t have a front porch when built (although some did), but I’m not sure as to the black paint on the steps.

      Here’s an example of a 1780’s Georgian house belonging to some family friends that had a one story porch when the linked pic was taken. Research revealed it to have been installed sometime after 1850, and it was removed during restoration (and in this case replaced with the proper two story predimented Palladian structure similar to what thought to be there originally).
      https://goo.gl/images/cKz50X

      3
      • JOE says: 733 comments

        Thank you Charleston John, I liked the photo, but am now curious. I assume, possibly, that there is a typo and you wrote pedimented Palladian structure. If it is not a typo I have a new word to look up. Either way do you have photos of what an historically accurate Palladian structure such as you describe would look like?

        1
        • CharlestonJohn says: 1045 comments

          Sorry about the typo. Here’s a good explanation of Drayton Hall’s pedimented “Palladian” porch…
          http://www.draytonhall.org/uncategorized/the-path-from-villa-cornaro-to-drayton-hall-by-carl-i-gable/

          1
          • JOE says: 733 comments

            Thank you for coming through for me again to answer my question, CharlestonJohn. What a perfect link to describe the principle of not just the porch, but the whole Palladian approach. When the photos of the two are shown side by side as in the link, the proportions on the columns on Villa Cornaro make Drayton Hall’s, which I have always found to be elegant, look awkward. I remember studying a little about Palladio in my college art history courses c. 1977-78, but since then, with the internet, it is great to have it so widely available. We had a huge text book with a survey of all art history back then with one or two photographs of examples on most subjects. I hadn’t thought how students may now be given a list of relevant links.

            1
          • JOE says: 733 comments

            CharlestonJohn, Sorry to be posting so much, but after responding to you this morning, I opened my mail from the Maryland Historical Society. (The society is located less than two blocks from the property that I am working on now. I became a member in September to do some research on the property. I learned that the original house was on the Baltimore City map in 1820, but not the one in 1801. I also learned that it has had the address number changed twice since it was built, once in 1856 and again in 1887.) web site for society: https://www.mdhs.org There was a brochure promoting their 2017 Francis Scott Key Lecture Series. Much to my surprise they are having a lecture featuring Drayton Hall on November 2, 2017. I have used cut and paste to put the description of the lecture from their web site, below. The brochure includes that the lecture is presented by George McDaniel, Ph.D. Executive director emeritus at Drayton Hall, which I did not see on their events page. If you are interested in MHS Events you can go directly to their event page at: https://www.mdhs.org/events If you do, the Drayton Hall lecture is the last event currently on the list. The lecture is called:
            Drayton Hall: Making a Difference with Historic Sites and their Communities
            November 2, 2017 – 6:30pm
            What is the future of historic sites? Why are historic sites important today? Drawing examples from Drayton Hall in South Carolina and other National Trust sites through the northeast, including Cliveden in Philadelphia, Montpelier in Vermont, and President Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington DC, George McDaniel will discuss how historic sites across the country are working to make their communities a better place through education, economic development, and preservation.

            1
            • AJ DavisAJ Davis says: 406 comments
              OHD Supporter

              1850 Italianate, classical
              New Haven, CT

              Joe–
              IMO, you should never feel you are posting too much when you’re providing good, solid information that might be of great value or interest to any number of people who are following this site!

              3
          • MW says: 840 comments

            Here is one for sale in VA that has a double porch. Not a bad looking house either. Check out the virtual tour which shows more than just the photos and shows the exterior and front porch pretty well in close up detail.
            http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/138-Garland-Ave-Amherst-VA-24521/79042682_zpid/

  36. Fellspoint says: 3 comments

    Wow! Don’t change anything.

    2
  37. Elizabeth says: 21 comments

    I love the layout of this house; it’s really similar to Gunston Hall with that huge hall, used as a living space, and fabulous molding in the formal rooms. The front and back door would be opened for airflow at certain times of the year (which they absolutely did provide) as well as views to what once was probably a garden out back. I think that in the past there was probably some colorful walls, perhaps even wallpaper, as the person who built this house had lots of disposable income. But, hey, with that copper bathtub, I’m not complaining. Also, originally it would have had many outbuildings which, if you look hard enough, you could probably locate and rebuild!

    1
  38. Julie Rossington says: 28 comments

    I love the house but think it needs “softening”. Foundation plantings and gardens outside, rugs, drapes and color on the walls inside. I’m sure it would have some amazing stories to tell, also!

    • AJ DavisAJ Davis says: 406 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1850 Italianate, classical
      New Haven, CT

      I just became a follower and supporter of OHD a few months ago and had not seen this house prior to today.
      My reactions to comments from 2 years ago are:
      1. This great house may seem cold to some, but I’d much rather see a cold house in near original condition than one that has been messed with, no matter how aesthetically pleasing or warm the interior is in its current state. This is a house in its virtual original condition and needs to be assessed as such. The architect involved in working on this house based his choice of door colors for the house on scientific paint analysis, so we have that knowledge, at least, however much we may or may not like the color choices and may want to change them. That is at least a good starting point for thinking about where to go from here. The same was true for his analysis of the faux finishes, like them or not as they are.
      2. It is true that colonial-era and early federal homes were often less well-furnished (both in terms of the amounts of furnishings and the quality or elaborateness of the furnishings, down to things as mundane as curtains) than we often think. Many furnishings we see today in very old homes were accumulated over time by generations or even centuries of one or more owning families, not to mention collectors who might have (over)furnished them, as I myself have been known to do. I don’t know if this house was “staged” for sale or not, but what you see is what you get. The owner is trying to sell the house, not win an award for how he has or hasn’t decorated it, the very few modern amenities notwithstanding. It is rare anyone will find a house in as relatively untouched condition as this one is and I think that is something IMO that we should be grateful for. The seller is obviously trying to leave it in as bare a move-in condition as he can and if I could afford it, I’d much rather buy it this way rather than run the risk of having to undo what someone else might have done to it in an effort at selling it (and increasing its price thereby, and the price I’d have to pay to undo it), given what I’ve seen in the past on this site and elsewhere.
      3. Likewise, while I can appreciate (and even agree) that a front porch (a) might look more inviting than not on this house, (b) would be a nice place to sip mint juleps on hot days in the shade, (c) as well as protect guests from a seemingly needless drenching in the rain while waiting for the door to be opened after their arrival (but then again, that’s why we have umbrellas and cell phones to announce our arrival and need not approach the front door until it is opened), this does raise the omnipresent question about the conditions under which adding a non-original component to a house is legitimate. Are indoor plumbing, gas water heaters, and electrical lighting okay? While I can’t define that line for anyone but myself, this is one issue that I’m sure very few people (if any) will be in complete agreement on. That being said, I do think that many houses built before this house did have porches (Mt. Vernon, for example, got the first two-story veranda in the US on its Potomac River facade, although to my knowledge, there was no porch over the rear door where visitors arriving by coach would not have found protection on entering the house from their carriages during a heavy downpour of rain), but many more did not. All that being said, however, most very formal, late Georgian, early Federal and Palladian-inspired houses designed for very wealthy American house-builders did not have porches or porticos when originally built. And I think this house falls into the latter category, as does the White House, which had no porch/portico on either side until some years after it was first built. And I agree totally with CharlestonJohn that the belt course over which the porch was subsequently built totally negates the possibility that the porch was original. Therefore, IMO, this house was intended to be a very formal and academic house without the welcoming informality that a porch now implies. Yet even I, the purist I usually think I am, would most definitely be tempted to built a sizeable porch across the back of this house just for the sake of convenience, pleasure and a love of the outdoors, knowing that the rear facade was never intended to create the first impression most people had of this house upon arriving at it. Even the fact that the rear facade connected in the very same plane to the pre-existing dependency suggests that the builder/architect did not hold this facade sacrosanct or he would have built it elsewhere in relation to that relatively crude structure.
      So, where and how to draw the line regarding respecting the values and tastes of the past and those of the present is always hard and there is no absolute standard to go by. We have to simply agree that we disagree and that we are all entitled to our preferences and values, which I think OHD viewers all accept pretty much across the board. But that we can debate these issues nonetheless for the sake of trying to decide (if only for ourselves) what the right or best thing is, however subjective that process and its resulting decision will undoubtedly be.

      4
    • AJ DavisAJ Davis says: 406 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1850 Italianate, classical
      New Haven, CT

      I think generally foundation plantings in relatively humid and wet climates are considered by most old house preservationists to be avoided because they are conducive to termites, moisture problems (since the roots hold water in the soil close to the foundations of the house) and can lead to a quicker deterioration in both wood and brick over time.

      6
  39. Momof9 says: 95 comments

    Love this one! I want the dollhouse, too!

  40. Gregory Hubbard says: 446 comments

    Hello… Forgive me but these comments are long.

    Whitewashed or calcimined walls were common even in expensive late eighteenth and early nineteenth century American homes. Thus the ‘white,’ or ‘cold’ interior of this house would not have been unusual. It’s possible that the walls were covered with wallpapers, now lost to changes of taste. There were lots of framed prints available for wealthy homeowners, and this house contained some fine portraits, so that may have been all there were. Documentary and photographic evidence recorded that in the early 1800’s and later, homeowners hung pictures on their walls over the scenic wallpaper.

    The maker of Piedmont’s fine 200 year-old wall paper was Dufour LeRoy. I believe the name of this series is “Les voyages d’Anthenor,” probably inspired by the very popular book, ‘Voyages d’Antenor En Grèce et En Asie, Avec des Notions Sur l’Égypte,’ of about 1798. I believe this paper was introduced in 1806, so it was not a new pattern when it was hung at Piedmont. It is still available, printed from the same, now antique, blocks.
    The examples of scenic wallpapers of this age I’ve worked with were printed on relatively small squares of handmade paper, pasted end to end to form ‘Rolls.’ These rolls or panels were printed using hand carved wooden ‘blocks’ the width and length of each paper panel, one for each color. Many full color sets required a surprising number of ‘blocks.’ Each panel could be quite long since the manufacturer didn’t know how tall the rooms to be papered would be. Because the papers present different subjects, stains and blemishes from age are very obvious.

    The ‘restoration’ Piedmont’s paper received was remarkable and very well done. It was cleaned and stabilized, but the flake and scrape damage wasn’t in-painted to pretend it was perfect.

    When I first saw Piedmont, it was a few years after the death of the last Briscoe of this branch of the family, Miss Louise Briscoe in 1979. I was working as the executive director of a Shenandoah Valley preservation organization. Many important structures were being lost through financial hardship, or indifference, or development pressure. Or all of these.

    One important house was demolished for a fire station that was finally built at another location. Another, with an interior fully decorated with graining and marbleizing of extraordinary quality, sat abandoned in a field near Front Royal. Its standing seam metal roof failed years before, and water poured down interior walls.

    A friend told me there was going to be a major auction of family possessions from a home that never passed out of the family that built it. This sounded too good to miss, so we drove to see it.

    The house was Piedmont. It was obviously an important house of truly impressive quality, but the house and grounds hadn’t been cared for in decades. There were sheet metal sheds in the yard, with piles of debris, and everything was overgrown.

    I was told that the house was left to the local historical society, but the contents had been left to someone who’d helped Louise Briscoe through her final illnesses.

    They said the historical society couldn’t afford to keep the house, and the man who’d inherited the contents wanted to cash-out. I have no idea if this was true.

    The sale was a major tragedy. The house was literally full of family treasures. Imagine a home with 200 years of family possessions, most dating to the 1700’s or early 1800’s. It was an extremely rare survival. Only a few such homes exist in America.

    I have been a curator, and taught antiques identification, so I knew treasures when I saw them. It was important enough, it should have become a museum.

    The auction went well, but the prices for the many treasures were not remarkable. As I said, it could have become a museum.

    At the end of the sale, the owner of the contents said that they would sell the precious French scenic wallpaper off the walls of the ‘best room.’ It would be the responsibility of the successful bidder to remove it from the walls. I knew that wallpaper, no matter how impressive, is a fixture, not furniture, and should not be sold at an auction of furniture.

    Now I have had some experience with scenic wallpaper. My family and I saved John Philip Sousa’s country house from probable demolition, and the dining room was decorated with a complete antique run of Zuber’s wallpaper, ‘Scenes of America.’ It was damaged, and required care, it but was still spectacular. We spent a month restoring it. A much older set, saved from a demolished historic Maryland house, decorates the walls of one of the White House’s public rooms.

    I decided that so few homes anywhere, even in Europe, had survived with antique scenic wallpaper intact that this was going to be a further tragedy. It was a major interior decorative element, and my experience has been that if you need someone to spend lots of money to save an historic building, it’s got to have lots of character.

    I knew that as an outsider in a small town in West Virginia, my opinions on wallpaper would carry little weight. So to stop its sale, I called every local, regional and state preservationist I knew. Then I began calling national authorities. No one knew the paper was to be removed, and all agreed on the importance of preserving it in place. They were all very concerned.

    I told them that they had one brief moment to act to save the paper for the house, then it would be gone. I told them my reasons for saving the paper, that it was important to the survival of the home. I said I would do anything I could to help, but because I had no local connections, they needed to begin the process.

    And then I heard nothing. I tried to find out what had happened, but no one I called knew what the result had been. I finally decided to let it go.

    Recently I saw the house was for sale. I reluctantly checked the listing photographs. Imagine my surprise and delight to see the wallpaper was still there, well restored. So many treasures have been lost, it is wonderful that this one has survived where it should be, where it’s been for 200 years.

    I believe I helped save it.

    One additional note. Even fine homes of this era often had just a few major bedrooms. Many rooms had multiple uses. In New England, for example, rooms dedicated specifically for use as dining rooms didn’t become common until the early 1800’s. Until then, dining tables might be set up anywhere in a major room.

    Wallingford House, in Kennebunk, Maine, built 1804, has just two major ground floor rooms, one a ballroom, and only three principle bedrooms. It also preserves original early 1800’s scenic wallpaper in its best chamber, printed ‘en grisaille,’ in grays. Printed perhaps 1810, the modern name of the pattern is ‘Views of the Bay of Naples and the Tomb of Virgil.’ Like the Sousa house, I helped save this home as well, and worked to preserve and stabilize the paper in the hope of keeping it in the house.

    Wallingford, In Kennebunk, Maine, is on the web.

    Thanks for your interest.

    Gregory Hubbard, Chatsworth, California.

    14
  41. Kelly, OHDKelly, OHD says: 11723 comments
    Admin

    1901 Folk Victorian
    Chestatee, GA

    Posted 2017, recently reduced so moved to the front page. Comments above may be older.

    7
  42. Sandy BSandy B says: 585 comments
    OHD Supporter

    2001 craftsman farmhouse
    Bainbridge Island, WA

    So intriqued by this historic house. I was not a participant of OHD when it was first posted, so it was great to read all the comments from 2017. I dug out my copy of Hugh Newell Jacobson’s monograph and the photos and text of his work on Piedmont is inspiring. I’ve always thought his work had a bit of a, “Neo Modern,” bent, and I can feel this in this restoration. Still I think the result is stunning. The new price is stunning as well. I bet it doesn’t last long on the market this time…..pray the buyer appreciates it as much as all the earlier comments here indicate.

    3
  43. AJ DavisAJ Davis says: 406 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1850 Italianate, classical
    New Haven, CT

    I’m posting these comments that are primarily relevant to posts from 2017 here since I’m not sure they’ll be seen if i post them under the 2017 “Reply” category. I actually have 3 comments and a question:
    1. I don’t think the large, old-looking primary kitchen is in the 1730’s “addition” (it is the main 1784 house that is actually the addition), but rather, it is in the 1784 structure, almost 100% undoubtedly a change since the house was built. The 1784 kitchen’s windows and ceiling are much too high and elaborate to be in the 1730’s structure. The photos of the main 1784 kitchen, which has some old-looking stuff in it, and the dining room next door to it appear through the doors of those respective rooms if you look carefully enough. The 1730’s section appears to house a very modern kitchenette and the den or study, as the house’s listing agent describes one room that is otherwise unidentifiable in the 1784 structure. The 1730 structure is much too low and its windows far too small to house the kitchen with the very high ceiling and windows that are clearly, IMO, in the 1784 structure. In fact, the 1784 kitchen has a stairway going up to a second floor room and one of the 2nd floor bedrooms has a stairway guard rail (with a gate that closes, likely so that no small child or sleepwalker would fall down it in the dark) that looks like it clearly belongs to that stairway; no other room on the first floor otherwise has a staircase in it that correlates with this one. The bedroom is a smaller one with two simple bed and the doll’s house in it.
    2. Since I’m on the topic of stairs, I find it quite interesting that this house’s stairs proceed up to an attic that has nothing but a very small number of very small windows which probably do not even open. It just seem interesting that so elaborate a staircase would go to a place so seemingly and relatively unimportant.
    3. The wallpaper is actually by Dufour Freres [Brothers], not Zuber or Dufour LeRoy. Dufour was at one time Dufour et Leroy, but presumably, according to HABS if I remember correctly, the wallpaper was made when it was just Dufour Freres. I’m not trying to be picayune, but as a scenic wallpapers enthusiast (and a big fan of Zuber et Cie), I always like to be as precise as possible about this period’s best makers of scenic wallpapers, some of which (like Zuber) are still making their papers using their late 18th/early 19th C hand processes. The other thing I read is that this wallpaper depicts the story of “Telemachus,” although it may go by other titles as well, unbeknownst to me.
    4. My question: I noticed that all of the door trim in the lower hall and some of the window trim in the most prominent rooms of the house looks very similar to that associated with the Greek Revival. While this style or something very similar to it may have been popular in late colonial or Federal times, I don’t know those periods well enough to know for certain if this is true. Can anyone knowledgeable about this time period verify if this style (or something very like it) was known in the 1784 time period or does it seem more likely that there was an updating of the trim at a later time, possibly when the front porch was added?
    Would greatly appreciate any and all comments on the above 4 issues.

    5
    • Sandy BSandy B says: 585 comments
      OHD Supporter

      2001 craftsman farmhouse
      Bainbridge Island, WA

      AJ,
      According to Jacobson’s monograph, the kitchen was brought into the house during the restoration into what was believed to have been the overseer’s room. This makes sense with the secondary staircase to a single bedroom above. And the kitchen photo caption reads, “All accustomed necessities of the 20th century were present, concealed, and attainable. The freezer, refrigerator, and dishwasher were fitted into the original raised panel cupboard on the right above.” The floor plans as restored is very clear and interesting to see.

  44. Sandy BSandy B says: 585 comments
    OHD Supporter

    2001 craftsman farmhouse
    Bainbridge Island, WA

    Wrote a comment yesterday on Piedmont, but apparently neglected to hit the Post button…..so this will be shorter. I dug out my copy of Hugh Newell Jacobsons]’s monograph published in 1994. The text and gorgeous photographs of Piedmont are a treasure. George Washington dined here March 10, 1771 (must have been in the the 1735 wing, since according to this, the manor house was built in 1780). The benches shown in the hall in the listing are shown on either side of the front porch and add a pleasing completeness to it. I love the sensitive way this house was treated in the restoration…..spare and certainly evokes the 18th century in my view. I hope a new owner recognizes and appreciates the intrinsic value of piedmont’s architectural and cultural history.

    2
  45. Architectural ObserverArchitectural Observer says: 837 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1918 Bunkhouse
    WestOfMiddleOfNowhere, KS

    The kitchen and bath were both done very thoughtfully and look great… it is possible to have modern amenities and still be respectful of historic interiors.

    I love the many historic finishes which have survived such as the marbleized wainscot in the hall (baseboards and stair risers are also marbleized) and the fantastic scenic wallpaper (thanks, Gregory Hubbard)!

    The facade looks better without the non-original porch; this is how it was supposed to look. The relatively stark interiors are refreshing and feel very livable. It’s more than a shame that the original furnishings were sold off after remaining for so long.

    2
  46. Sandy BSandy B says: 585 comments
    OHD Supporter

    2001 craftsman farmhouse
    Bainbridge Island, WA

    Arch. Observer,
    One can only imagine the house with generations of furnishings…..some fabulous, some just stuff. Even so, it would have been a major treat to be at that auction. Truly sad the, “original” didn’t manage to stay though…….I can only imagine the feel of the house then. I am totally enamored by this house. I agree about the porch, I would never try to replace it.

    2
  47. StacyStacy says: 322 comments
    1900 Maybe Craftsmen
    TX

    No cold here.. I love that it’s rustic, simple (but totally not), not packed with furniture & things.. This home has seen simpler, yet difficult times,It’s lived a long life. I wouldn’t change anything I didn’t have to & even then Id stay true to its time!! Fascinating, great home! I hope a new owner will appreciate it!! Im a true fan & can only dream!!

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