Portfolio: Historic Building Rehab: Braehead, Fredericksburg, Virginia

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Completed in 1859, the grand brick residence called Braehead saw a good deal of action during the Civil War, with both confederate and union troops occupying the house during the course of the conflict. Robert E. Lee is reported to have had breakfast at the house on the morning of the first battle of Fredericksburg, and the walnut tree to which he tied his horse still stands today.

The current owners of the house wanted to remove a variety of adaptations that had been made to the house during its lifetime and correctly install plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems. Perhaps the main challenge was to figure out how a modern family could inhabit this unusual house which originally had no bathrooms, closets, or a modern kitchen, but which had servants. Secondary challenges included how to heat and air-condition the house, how to deal with the loss of historic fabric (including 60% of the wood windows and the basement flooring), how to fill in a moat that had been dug around the house to keep the basement walls dry, and how to conceal new plumbing pipes and electrical wires. All of our plans for the house, both inside and out, had to be approved by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

Phase I of the work – focused on exterior masonry repair and interior rehabilitation – has been completed. Phases II and III include the restoration of the exterior woodwork and porches and a new roof, will begin soon, as well as an ambitious plan to install a new driveway to recreate the original road to access the true front of the house.

General Contractor: Habalis Construction
Historic Resources Research: Dovetail Cultural Resources
Interior Design: Merry Powell Interiors

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