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Renovation retains home's 1929 charm

October 5, 2012 12:10 am


A wall was removed to open up the foyer and staircase space. hh1005maryePC2.jpg

The renovation at 900 Marye St. revealed hardwood floors that were covered for years with shag carpet. hh1005maryePC1.jpg

The renovated kitchen has new cabinetry, countertops and appliances, but keeps the original hardwood floors. 100512hmarye1.jpg

The renovation of 900 Marye St. has given the house a whole new look, but it's still every bit the classic Dutch gambrel design so prevalent among houses built in Fredericksburg during the 1920s and '30s. hh1005maryePC6.jpg



The potential for renewal in an older home must be seen before it can be realized. Determining whether the potential is well-hidden or simply not there can make the difference between a profitable project and one whose costs outweigh its value.

When Mike Adams first saw 900 Marye St. in Fredericksburg, which sits on a corner lot at Littlepage Street, he spent some time scratching his head before deciding to take on the rehabilitation project.

"The main entrance was on the side of the house," he said, "and it just didn't make sense."

That was particularly odd since the house is Dutch gambrel style--the barn style roof so prevalent in city homes built in the 1920s and '30s. The architecture of the house has it facing Littlepage, but the main entrance on Marye was on the side.

"We took what was the 'side' door and made it the main entrance, and left the original main entrance where it was," said Adams.

But that was just the start of the changes to be made. And the result is a thoroughly modern home that also looks the part of its 1929 construction date. It also offers a two-car garage and driveway for off-street parking so rarely found with city properties.

Adams has listed the home with Heather Hagerman of Coldwell Banker Elite in Spotsylvania. The asking price is $615,000.


Given what it was before Adams' company, Jon Properties, took on the project, the transformation is truly remarkable. From the run-of-the-mill red brick house emerged a family home with three levels of finished living space. JLN Contractors of Fredericksburg did the work.

The gray-painted brick and white trim lend a striking appearance on the corner lot. Inside, there are five bedrooms, three full baths and a half bath adding up to 2,713 square feet of efficient living space.

There is all new electrical service, plumbing and HVAC. The drywall is all new and the original hardwood floors, most of which were covered in shag carpeting, are now allowed to show off their refinished beauty. Efficient new vinyl windows were installed throughout.

The new main entrance always had the porch on it, but the classic design with the arched beadboard ceiling, white posts and pickets never looked so good. A new door with beveled glass and sidelights was added. The rich gray chosen for the exterior works well with the slate roof that was relatively new when Adams took on the project.

He said that the interior layout had several peculiarities, some of which could be attributed to the 1929 floor plan, and others that were just flat out odd.

"The main living area was chopped up," he said, with walls leaving the foyer, living room and dining room boxed in, making the house feel unnecessarily cramped.

Then there was the route to the half-bath, which was reached by ducking through the basement door under the main staircase and entering it at the upper landing of the basement steps.


Adams called on local architect Bobbi Baker to fix the problems. Baker's challenge was to create a floor plan that would be open, make the best use of the space available and welcome a modern family--while taking load-bearing walls into consideration.

The foyer and living room are now part of an open area that flows into the main stairs and hallway to the kitchen. A wide opening to the dining room helps it contribute to the spaciousness of the main living area. The living room has a working, wood-burning fireplace.

Through French doors and adjacent to the living room is a home office.

The kitchen was completely redone, a part of the project that began by swapping what were a kitchen window and door. That provides a practical exit to the back yard and garage.

The galley kitchen includes new white cabinetry from Reico, fine-grain black granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances. The pantry has been reconfigured with new shelving and the powder room is now accessible from the hallway alongside the kitchen rather than the basement steps.

The upstairs floor plan needed work as well, mostly because there was just one bathroom--the only full bathroom in the original house.

The bathroom's hallway entrance was walled off and given over to the master bedroom, creating a master suite. Space was carved from two secondary bedrooms to provide them with a jack-and-jill bathroom with the vanity separated by a pocket door from the shower and toilet.

Each of the bathrooms has been redone with new fixtures and shower enclosures of tile and glass.


Once a mostly forgotten space, the basement is now fully finished with two bedrooms, a laundry room, a full bathroom, a family/TV area and even a wet bar.

There is private outdoor access through a welled exit, which would allow the basement to be used as an in-law suite or rented apartment.

Part of making a project like this work are the little touches that help a modernized old house retain its vintage charm. New trim was replicated to match the old, additional two-panel doors were found at Caravati's Salvage in Richmond to match existing ones. Lighting fixtures were chosen to recall the '20s and '30s.

Even the new doors and hardware on the painted-brick garage evoke a bygone era.

The one-eighth-acre lot also has space for a fenced side yard between the house and garage.

Richard Amrhine: 540/374-5406

Most old houses have their idiosyncrasies, some of which develop on their own over time, and others that owners contrived on purpose. One example is the closet trim that's cut at an angle parallel to a dormer.

Mike Adams, whose company, Jon Properties, bought 900 Marye St. to refurbish and resell it, said he found a particularly interesting one involving the home's garage.

The brick, two-car structure has two separate garage doors separated by a brick post. The garage probably dates to the construction of the house, in 1929, and the garage door openings were designed to handle the cars of those days, not the American-made, finned behemoths of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

A previous owner wanted to put his '59 Cadillac in the garage, but the door openings weren't wide enough. So what did he do? He cut openings in the brick posts so the car, fins and all, would fit.

Adams made it a priority to rebrick the cut-out areas. Today, one can't tell the custom cutouts ever existed.

--Richard Amrhine

Copyright 2014 The Free Lance-Star Publishing Company.