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In 1889, new mansion was on the edge of town page 3
1601 Caroline St. looking for a new owner and significant restoration work.

 The rear of the house has a two-story porch attached to the original portion and addition.
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Date published: 9/21/2012


The asking price reflects the current condition of the house, given that the lot itself might account for two-thirds of the figure. Paint is peeling badly inside and out. There is some rotting of the wood siding and perhaps some earthquake damage to the ceiling of the front porch. The quake may also be responsible for an issue with the metal roof that allowed some unnoticed water infiltration for a while. Significant plaster work is needed.

The rooms reflect their one-time use as apartments, with random kitchen appliances and fixtures here and there. Other rooms were similarly left with console televisions that look to date from the 1960s. There is one bathroom on each level.

The hardwood flooring has survived well for the most part, and some on the main level remains protected today by carpeting.

The cellar has a concrete floor and appears generally dry. It also holds relics such as a pair of wringer washers that may date to the 1940s.

The options for a new owner would be numerous, particularly because it is outside the Historic District. The entire structure could be restored, or the rear extension could be removed, leaving the original house, onto which a new rear addition overlooking the river could be built.

Over the years the lot and the hillside have become severely overgrown, minimizing sight lines to the river. There is a giant old walnut tree back there. Once those areas are cleaned up there would be plenty of space for patios or courtyards with river views.

An option that Massey shudders to consider would be a new owner's decision to raze the entire structure and start over. "It's hard to imagine what the public uproar would be," he said of such a plan.

Richard Amrhine: 540/374-5406
Email: ramrhine@freelancestar.com

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The restoration of 1601 Caroline St. could be eligible for federal and state historic rehabilitation tax credits--a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the owner's tax liability for up to 45 percent of the project expenses. But because it is not within the city's Historic District, certain things would have to happen first.

To qualify for the federal program, a 20 percent break, it must be a certified historic structure. That means it must be listed in the National Register of Historic Places or be a contributing structure in a Historic District that is listed, according to Sean Maroney, executive director of Historic Fredericksburg Foundation.

The state credit, which by itself would cover 25 percent of expenses, hinges on the building being income-producing, such as a B&B. It would also need to be listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register, certified as eligible for it, or be a contributing structure in a Historic District that is listed.

Also, the city has included the property in the Historic District overlay in order to make it eligible for its real estate tax abatement, meaning that the increase to the assessed value of the restored structure is exempt from city real estate taxes for the year in which the improvements are made.

To operate as a B&B or an events venue, which sources suggest city officials would embrace, special exceptions would need to be granted.

Maroney said HFFI believes the building is worthy of restoration and preservation and would offer any assistance it could in advocating its tax credit eligibility.

For the tax credits, periodic inspections by state Department of Historic Resources officials are required as is detailed record-keeping of expenses incurred.

The tax breaks are considered pivotal in the affordability of expensive historic rehabilitation projects. However, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, deficit reduction measures being debated in Congress could reduce or even eliminate the federal historic tax credit.

--Richard Amrhine