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Cornell Street home's unique style stands out

November 23, 2012 12:10 am


Olive visits the McLaughlins' kitchen, which was a top renovation priority they took on upon moving into 814 Cornell St. in 2004. hh112312cornell7.jpg

The living room of the McLaughlins' Cornell Street home is warm and inviting. The arched opening and book cases are part of an architectural theme that's carried throughout the English Tudor house. hh112312cornell2.jpg

The McLaughlins' 1939 home may be the only example of English Tudor design in Fredericksburg. It's in the city's below-the-college neighborhood. hh112312cornell4.jpg

A pineapple pendant light fixture (above) hangs in the Cornell Street home's two-story foyer. The pineapple theme is picked up elsewhere, as is the arched door opening.


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.

They took on a major project shortly after their arrival in early 2005, remodeling the kitchen and removing a wall that separated the kitchen from the dining room, and adding a bar-height counter. The change makes an enormous difference in providing an open, modern use of space. These areas, and the foyer, received special pineapple lighting fixtures that will convey.

New cherry cabinetry and dark granite countertops were added in the kitchen. It's a handsome combination with the more recently added stainless-steel appliances. The Viking refrigerator was built into its space and covered with the same cherry cabinet facing.

"It was the best improvement we made," said Stacey McLaughlin. "I love to cook, so we set it up to serve as a gourmet kitchen."

Many windows were replaced with new, energy-efficient Pella casement windows, which actually follow the Tudor style. The couple also refinished the hardwood floors.

Also at some point prior to the McLaughlins' arrival, the garage was converted into a family room and connected to the house via a breezeway. The couple updated the family room by knocking out an exterior wall and installing dual French doors that open to the backyard.

A back staircase leads from the family room to an upper-level guest or in-law suite, with a bedroom and full bathroom.

Stairs from the foyer to the second floor have a banister that begins with a curl from the foyer.

The master suite is up here, with an oversized walk-in closet to one side and the master bath with its new marble flooring to the other. It's one of two bathrooms the couple have completely redone.

There are two secondary bedrooms on this level that share a full bathroom.

Up one more flight is the third level, with two more secondary bedrooms that share a Jack 'n' Jill bathroom.

There is an unfinished basement that's dry and holds a washer and dryer as well as the home's utilities. A gas-fired boiler provides hot-water radiator heat. The circuit boxes for the new electrical system the couple had installed are down here, as well as a water treatment system.


McLaughlin said the family loves to spend time outdoors, and the backyard boasts plenty of space with a couple of patios. She planted extensive landscaping along the fence that will enhance the property's privacy. The low brick wall that helps define the yard probably dates to the home's construction. There is a huge magnolia tree that may predate the house and a pair of Japanese maples that even now are red explosions of color.

A portion of the yard is mulched as a cushion around playground equipment. There's also a pergola back here that the couple added, and a garden shed that's part of the house.

To the side of the house is a lane that was apparently a driveway that led to the former garage. Arranging for a curb cut would allow it to serve as space for off-street parking.

Richard Amrhine: 540/374-5406

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

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