January 23rd, 2012

Braehead Revisited, chapter 1: “What have we gotten ourselves into?”

Surely Braehead’s new owners must have thought this many times in the past two years. These pictures illustrate the sad conditions as I was introduced to Braehead.  It was pretty bad. Over 6,000 square feet of broken windows, rotting wood, mold, and standing water were just a few of the minor challenges. No bathrooms or heat, inadequate wiring and plumbing, and adhering to the strict building codes of the Department of Historical Resources were the bigger issues.

Fortunately for me, these were not my areas of responsibility!

But amidst the decay and garbage was a treasure trove of period antiques, many original to Braehead. Furniture, art, books, even a Victorian wedding dress were still inside the main dwelling and adjacent outbuildings.

I was overjoyed to have so much to work with! We inventoried as best we could to determine what we could use, and what was too precious or too far gone.

The owners generously donated many pieces to the Fredericksburg museum, but others you see in these photos were resurrected along with the house. You will see them again, refinished, repaired and reupholstered…continuing in their service to the present day stewards of Braehead.

Thus began the collaborative effort between the owners; architect, Sabina Weitzman;          builder, Jay Holloway and myself.

Our goal: to preserve the past and the future of Braehead.





But things would get worse before they got better…

The large plastic covered table in this photo is actually an antique piano forte'. It was too large to move!

Andy (in the window) and Petty, of Habalis Construction - two of the highly skilled craftsmen responsible for the restoration of Braehead.

Special thanks to Sabina Weitzman for these photographs

Tomorrow: Welcome! We’re ready for company!

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