The Enon Hall Restoration Part 3

The Old House Web

Enon Hall porch
With full access to Enon Hall, the Chapmans are diving into projects, such as removing the asbestos shingles from the exterior wall inside the screened porch. The siding below is in great shape. Bill notes, "We are really enjoying this screened porch. At 20' x 18' it's very large. It's also a great place to sleep."

Bill and Gay Chapman have purchased Bill's ancestral home, Enon Hall, a four-acre estate near the Chesapeake Bay in Lancaster County, Virginia. They bought the house without first seeing the inside, and granted the elderly owner lifetime tenancy.

For the past year, Bill Chapman has kept a careful journal of his purchase and restoration of Enon Hall. Since going online a year ago, Bill has had contact with 14 previously unknown Hathaway descendants.

Here are excerpts from his journal.

May 2000

<a href="[removed]onClick=openImageWindow('/imagesvr_ce/stories/bitmaps/10094/bourne.jpg', 'location=no,toolbar=false,status=no,menubar=no,scrollbars=yes,width=500,height=450,resizable=yes,top=50,left=50')">Michael Bourne
Michael Bourne, an architectural historian from Colonial Williamsburg, examines Enon Hall. Among his findings -- the original kitchen was in the cellar, the floor boards are all original to the house, and the main part of the house was probably built at the same time, around 1750.

<a href="[removed]onClick=openImageWindow('/imagesvr_ce/stories/bitmaps/10094/cantilever2.jpg', 'location=no,toolbar=false,status=no,menubar=no,scrollbars=yes,width=500,height=450,resizable=yes,top=50,left=50')">back yard
Another finding by the Williamsburg historian was this original chimney, dismantled just below the roof line and cantilevered back to join with a new, smaller 20th century chimney.

(Click on pictures for larger view.)

For the first time in many years a cool breeze was able to wash through the center hall at Enon Hall this weekend as we finally gained full access to the inside of the house...ten months to the day since we bought the place.

The first thing we did was force open these doors that had been boarded shut for at least 15 years! We spent all Memorial Day weekend at the house, including our first nights there, sleeping on folding cots in the parlor.

Saturday morning we explored every square inch of the house and took pictures from every angle.

The inside of the house really is in remarkable shape for its age. However, this is largely attributable to previous renovations by the Hayden's that sadly, replaced many original materials. For instance, about 70% of the walls in the 18th century portion of the house have been replaced with drywall. Fortunately, most of the plaster remains in the 19th century addition.

I spent a great deal of time this weekend mulling over the floorboards downstairs in the original portion of the house and suspect that these too have been replaced. I would be happy to be proven wrong on this.

The floorboards are definitely very old wood, and they are nailed with old nails, but they are still suspicious to me. The board widths seem too consistent for the period and the board edges seem too crisp.

The floorboards on the stairs, on the other hand, leave no doubt as to their age. On one step the tread is worn all the way back to the face of the riser.

June 2000

Exciting discovery today!

<a href="[removed]onClick=openImageWindow('/imagesvr_ce/stories/bitmaps/10094/bkprchsiding.jpg', 'location=no,toolbar=false,status=no,menubar=no,scrollbars=yes,width=500,height=450,resizable=yes,top=50,left=50')">porch
With asbestos shingles gone, the porch clapboards appear to be rough sawn cedar.

<a href="[removed]onClick=openImageWindow('/imagesvr_ce/stories/bitmaps/10094/teardown1.jpg', 'location=no,toolbar=false,status=no,menubar=no,scrollbars=yes,width=500,height=450,resizable=yes,top=50,left=50')">demolition
The enclosed back porch, before demolition.

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The tapered posts that had once supported a front were discovered.

<a href="[removed]onClick=openImageWindow('/imagesvr_ce/stories/bitmaps/10094/bkporchfloor.jpg', 'location=no,toolbar=false,status=no,menubar=no,scrollbars=yes,width=500,height=450,resizable=yes,top=50,left=50')">back porch
The back porch will be rebuilt.

(Click on pictures for larger view.)

I stripped the asbestos shingles from the exterior wall of the house that lies inside the addition.

As with the front of the house, the clapboards below are in great shape...although this time they appear to be rough sawn cedar, not smooth clapboards like the front of the house. In addition, these clapboards were painted yellow sometime after this addition was enclosed.

Once all of the shingles were off and bagged I turned my attention to the outside walls of the shed addition. This addition started its life as a screened porch that was later closed in, using any piece of wood that happened to be lying around. I removed the screen frames and Gay came out to help me wrestle down the three louvered windows.

By 3:30 in the afternoon I was covered with grime from the dirty process. I stood in the middle of the destruction gulping Gatorade and looking around when it hit me. "Holy cow! This is the front porch!" There in front of me were the same 4 tapered posts that are so clearly visible in photos of Enon Hall from the early 1900s. Only then, they supported the front porch!

So this shed addition didn't start life as a screened porch; it actually started life as a simple open porch. And it actually started that life on the front of the house. From what I can tell from photos, it probably was torn off of the front and rebuilt on the back sometime in the 1930s.

Standing out in the back yard I could see the true effect of what I had accomplished today. The back of the house, always its scariest side, looked 500% better. The porch is charming and Gay and I decided immediately that we would have to keep it!

July 2000

Enon Hall Back
"The back of the house is starting to look dramatically different. A neighbor from up the creek stopped by this afternoon and commented, 'Things are looking better already.' He is definitely a man of vision because we are certainly in the 'it's gotta look worse before it can look better stage.'"

I think my favorite part of the restoration so far has been exposing the old clapboards from beneath newer materials like asbestos shingles and drywall.

The rest of the kitchen addition came down today. What a great feeling to stand back in the yard and see this eyesore gone!

The plan from here is to continue moving down the back of the house, removing the remainder of the asbestos shingles and the dog house addition over the cellar entrance.

Once everything is stripped off, we can better assess the sill and determine whether any work is needed there. Then we will remove all of the clapboards, cover the framing with 1/2" plywood and then install beaded cedar clapboards to match the front of the house. Right now the clapboards on the rear of the 18th century section are a mix of original beaded clapboards on the far right and later 19th and 20th century clapboards on the left.

Next challenge...finding somebody to haul away the monstrous debris pile. I have been trying for a month to get somebody to deliver a dumpster, to no avail. I've been told to expect difficulties like this in lining up subcontractors in this area. Everybody keeps reminding me that this is "the land of promise...they promise to come, but they never do."

<-To Previous Journal installment
<-To Introduction and other story parts
To Bill Chapman's Enon Hall Web Site->

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