Restored carriage house attracts attention

PARKERSBURG – A restored carriage house behind the former Harnett House Bed and Breakfast has been the center of attention this year in the Julia-Ann Square Historic District.

Homeowners Norm and Judy Smith worked the last two years to restore the original carriage house behind their home at 1024 Juliana St., which is showcased during the Victorian Christmas Homes Tour and the Garden Tour in the summer.

“We wanted to keep the integrity and the look of the original property,” said Judy Smith. “Before we worked on it, the carriage house was literally falling down around us.”

Before construction could begin, the plans were approved by the Architectural Review Board. The carriage house now stores the couple’s antique cars and a 1907 Babcock Surrey horse-drawn carriage.

Built in 1885, the Smiths’ home was originally owned by William Caswell, a lumber baron and founding member of the West Virginia Republican Party. The couple purchased the five-story Victorian house three years ago and began working on several construction projects, including an elevator installed last year.

“The impetus for the carriage house was the fact that we had nowhere to put our vehicles,” said Judy Smith. “The structure had ivy growing all over it, the slate roof was falling down, and the ceiling was crumbling. Basically it was unsafe.”

Two years ago, the Smiths collaborated with friend and neighbor Fred Guerriere to restore the carriage house and add on an extra 1,000 feet for use as a garage.

“We basically came up with the design plans, and our friend restored the space,” said Norm Smith. “We tried to incorporate some historic details and design.”

The red-brick carriage house now has a new shingled roof, ceiling, cupola, stairs and weathervane, as well as a completely refurbished interior.

Gold crown molding and stenciled design along the ceiling mimic the house’s Victorian style. A pressed concrete, cobblestone walkway was installed in the spring, and an extra 1,000 square feet were built on to the original structure to house the Smiths’ antique cars, including a 1929 Roadster.

The original two-story carriage house, connected to the addition, stores the couple’s prized horse-drawn carriage, which was on display for both the Victorian Christmas Homes Tour and the Garden Tour this summer.

“We bought it about a year ago while we were in the process of restoring the carriage house,” said Judy Smith. “Whenever Norm has the doors open, people strolling by like to come up and take a look.”

While the Smiths have not gone as far as buying a horse to pull the carriage, they hope to one day feature it in local parades. For now, a life-sized, 300-pound aluminum horse takes the place of a real horse in front of the carriage.

“We decorated him for the holidays, and we even put wheels on the bottom of his hoofs so we could pull him, along with the carriage. We like to display him out in front of the house for the Garden Tour,” said Judy Smith.

The couple affectionately named him Butterworth – Caswell’s middle name.

“We are really happy with the end result. Everyone seems to love it,” she said. “The house really feels complete now.”

While the Smiths are taking a break this year from the upcoming Victorian Christmas Homes Tour, the home and carriage house are featured in the Garden Tour in June as well as the many historic walking tours through the Julia-Ann Square Historic District.

“For us, almost every day is a tour day. We show it to bus tours, relatives, friends, and really anyone who happens to be walking by. Sharing the house and its history is the reason we love living here,” she said.

Read more:  Parkersburg News and Sentinel

Category : In The News Posted on November 6, 2010

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