In anticipation of the Home’s 150th Birthday Celebration on October 20, 2019, we have undertaken an extensive renovation: restoring the original 1756 flounder roof (the only one left in Georgetown); refurbishing and remodeling the common areas and Guest rooms; restoring the brickwork, replacing gutters, pruning the marquee Southern Magnolia tree, shaping the backyard box woods and planting bulbs galore. One of the first updates was to sand and refinish a Guest room floor, installed in 1872. We were unaware the wood floor even existed, until one of our staff pulled up an old vinyl tile in a closet! The heart pine, harvested most likely from southern Virginia or North Carolina hundreds of years old, was gorgeous when refinished.
The workers then moved into the front hall where more heart pine, this time wide plank style, installed in 1870, was found. After the old 1940s tile came up, workers had to repair, hoist, and revamp a few of the old joists to make the subfloor even. For a few areas of missing planks, where modern plumbing and electricity came in to the building, old chestnut planks—25 feet long and a half a foot wide—were retrieved from the attic. Once cut to size, refinished and installed, the revamped wood fit right in—no one could tell the difference between the original and replacement wood. It has been exciting to realize the chestnut planks from the attic were harvested and placed long before the infamous American chestnut blight of the early 20th century where 4 billion chestnut trees were lost.
Our old plaster walls are now repaired and painted. The antique furniture is being reupholstered, webbed, and cushioned, and the old blinds will be replaced with period-style shutters. It’s been a bit of makeover madness, under the direction of the Home’s Board of Directors and Board House Manager, Patricia Giebel. The Town and Country Garden Club has been monitoring our garden progress and doing much of the digging and moving plants around the garden. Our yeoman handyman, has been carpenter, painter, renovator and jack-of-all-trades for our interior restoration. Our exterior restoration was delayed due to nesting in the brick’s mortar. Our master stonemason patiently awaited the fledgling birds’ departure before bringing our 400 year old bricks to life.
As the holidays approached, the major renovation chaos quieted a bit. Guests, Volunteers, Board and Staff Members were thus able to enjoy a delightful holiday dinner in our newly restored historic dining room.