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Cornell Street home's unique style stands out
English Tudor home is one of a kind in Fredericksburg.

 Olive visits the McLaughlins' kitchen, which was a top renovation priority they took on upon moving into 814 Cornell St. in 2004.
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Date published: 11/23/2012


The steep pitch of the slate roof, the front-facing gable that ends with upward curves, the decorative brick quoins and the arched entry door tell you that this one is a rare find.

It's the English Tudor brick home at 814 Cornell St. that you can't miss, and it's probably the only one of its kind in Fredericksburg.

Situated on a beautifully landscaped double lot that measures a third of an acre--large by in-town standards--the property is a classic member of the city's cherished below-the-college neighborhood.

Owners Stacey and John McLaughlin have made many improvements to the 1939 home and property in the eight years they've lived there. But it's time to move on, and they've listed it with Patsy Thompson and Donna Goodwin of Rappahannock Properties Inc. in Fredericksburg. The asking price is $939,900.


The house is deceptively large given the curbside view, but it runs deep on the lot and has three finished above-grade levels. There are six bedrooms, four full bathrooms and a half bath. There's 4,426 square feet of living space.

The unique design of the house inside and out makes it an interesting and attractive find. The English Tudor, or Tudor Revival, style is carried through the interior, with arched doorways and textured plaster walls and ceilings.

The arched doorways are prominent in the foyer, starting with the main entry. Another serves the entry to the living room and another frames the hallway back toward the kitchen.

The living room is large and inviting, and features one of the home's two natural-gas fireplaces. The arch theme continues with the built-in bookcases that are probably original to the house. The bookcase trim incorporates bull's-eye rosettes so common in Fredericksburg homes built a generation earlier.

Through another arched opening, the living room blends into the dining room and areas where the McLaughlins made significant improvements. Wide French doors take you from the dining room to the sun room where, Stacey McLaughlin says, the family spends much of its time. It was once a screened porch, and she's not sure when it was enclosed with large windows that overlook the expansive backyard. The couple chose to add built-in cabinets and shelving to hold a television and other items.

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When a house becomes a tour stop for University of Mary Washington students studying historic preservation, there's a reason.

Associate professor Gary Stanton of the university's Center for Historic Preservation brings students to 814 Cornell St. because he believes the home's unique architecture makes it stand out. It's also part of a neighborhood key to the city's development in the early 20th century, and was once part of Fielding Lewis' Kenmore Plantation.

The neighborhood known as "below the college" was first developed in 1911. Around same time, the State Normal and Industrial School for Women, which later became Mary Washington College, was being established.

Stanton notes that prolific local builder Peck Heflin was instrumental in putting sidewalks in the neighborhood because he didn't think the students who lived there should trudge though mud to get to school.

Stanton said B.L. Lucas was the home's first owner, and as a building contractor probably had a role in its construction. Why the English Tudor style was chosen for the house is anybody's guess, although the style was apparently gaining new favor in the United States about that time.

The Tudor style is noticeable in the roofline and the timber framing on the sides of the house, Stanton said, and the terra-cotta "pots" at the top of the broad, front-facing chimney have roots in English design.

Coincidentally, owners of the house after Lucas included the Janney and Fried families--both of which have ties to the local residential construction industry.

--Richard Amrhine