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The Chimneys: HFFI success story
The Chimneys at 623 Caroline St., a mansion that dates to 1772, is a Historic Fredericksburg Foundation restoration project that has had many uses. By Ellen Makarechian

 During the porch restoration of 1977, sandstone foundation blocks and remnants of the original stone front steps were revealed. The brick nogging is visible just behind the shutter at the left of the photo.
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Date published: 3/11/2006

This is part of an occasional series about Historic Fredericksburg Foundation Inc., which turned 50 last year.

"To Members of Historic Fredericksburg, Inc. At the meeting of your directors on February 2, 1966, a motion was passed that our corporation endeavor to acquire the handsome old house at 623 Caroline Street known as 'The Chimneys.' The purpose of this letter is to advise you of the opportunity to acquire and preserve this house." --written Feb. 12, 1966, by George D. Williams, president of Historic Fredericksburg Foundation Inc. to the members of HFFI.

DR. R.R. BUFFINGTON, who had his offices in The Chimneys, was the owner at the time this letter was written, and wanted to sell the house to Historic Fredericksburg Foundation Inc. If the organization could acquire commercial tenants who could cover the amortization costs of approximately $410 per month plus operating costs, it would be possible for them to make the purchase.

More importantly, if they could purchase this house, they could start a movement of improving Caroline Street from Charlotte Street to Lafayette Boulevard, where many old houses were still standing.

So not only was HFFI under way in saving an old structure, but also now was interested in an entire stretch of a historic street. Restoration of the area would ultimately be accomplished through the HFFI revolving fund a decade later.

The Chimneys was built about 1772, and has traditionally been attributed to merchant John Glassell. He had come from Galloway, Scotland, prior to 1770 to open an export business involved in the sale of tobacco. Glassell acquired lot 12 on Caroline Street, and most of lot 11 behind it, in 1771 from Charles Yates. It is possible that it was Yates who built the house prior to the sale to Glassell, a view shared by University of Mary Washington researcher Belle Pendleton and Fredericksburg historian Paula Felder.

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