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Renovated city property is made to order for office space
Restoration of building that partially burned in early 2012 is nearly complete.

 A new metal shingle roof and clerestory-type attic windows add to the curb appeal.
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Date published: 1/18/2013


As the smoke cleared nearly a year ago at 702 Princess Anne St., the damage appeared severe but not catastrophic. Firefighters had contained the flames to the back, where it had started, and blamed the blaze on a space heater left running near combustible materials.

It was nevertheless an emotional experience for owner Sally Valentino when she first saw it.

"It was a shock," she said earlier this week. "I cried."

Today, the structure, which dates to around 1889, is on its way to looking like new--and probably better than new--after a six-month project taken on by Abby Construction.

Located directly across the street from the new city courthouse, the building is being offered for sale or lease strictly as office space as there is no kitchen. There are, however, six off-street parking spaces out back. It is listed with Betty Westerlund of Keller Williams Realty of Fredericksburg. The asking price is $624,900. Leasing is offered at $3,200 per month.

Located in the Historic District, it's an attractive building with Victorian touches inside and out. The repaired and restored front porch retains its combination Ionic and Corinthian-style columns.

The yellow-painted pine siding, retained and replicated where necessary under Architectural Review Board guidelines, stands out with dark red shutters. The overhangs of red metal roof, which is part shingle, part standing seam, protect the dentil moldings.

Inside, handsome period features, including transoms and intricately carved newel posts and fireplace surrounds, were retained.

Valentino owns the Sears kit home with her husband, Francis "Rudy" Valentino. She bought it in 1993, opened her own arts and crafts supply business there and taught some art classes.

Eventually, the couple retired to Southside Virginia, leased the building, and it became an antiques shop, The Old Blantons Store.

She was in Chase City at the couple's retirement property when she got the call about the fire from her husband on Feb. 9, 2012. From his description of the damage it was clear they would need to act quickly to prevent the weather from doing even more damage. The house was filled wall-to-wall with antiques at the time, many of which were damaged or destroyed by the fire, water and smoke.

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WHAT: Open house at newly listed office property.

WHERE: 702 Princess Anne St., Fredericksburg, opposite the new courthouse. WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 2, 1 p.m.-3 p.m.

If a building could be a jack-of-all-trades, 702 Princess Anne St. would be it.

Since its construction in around 1889, it has housed an accountant's office, a dentist, a uniform shop, a wedding dress shop, an antiques dealer and a craft store.

Given its location directly across from the new Fredericksburg courthouse, owner Sally Valentino and agent Betty Westerlund are both thinking: law offices.

That's also the role long served by neighboring 700 Princess Anne, at the corner of Charlotte Street.

--Richard Amrhine