House of the Week | Bluemont Colonial for $479,000

November 15, 2013

Among the items Steve Templeton and his son-in-law Ryan Michels found during their renovations of this 1845 Colonial in Bluemont: horse hair plaster, timbers that had been hand cut with an ax serving as studs and stone walls erected in rooms for wood-burning stoves.

The most unusual discoveries came from inside the walls, where they uncovered letters dated from 1901, school reports, pamphlets and baseball cards, including a 1909 Walter Johnson card. The walls couldn’t speak, but they certainly had a story to tell.

“When you lay out all this stuff that we found in the walls, it’s pretty interesting,” Templeton said.

Michels had the baseball cards appraised and learned the Walter Johnson card was worth between $1,800 and $3,000.

At the turn of the 19th century, the home had been a girls’ school, but it had since fallen into disrepair after the previous owner, Thelma Reid, died. There was almost no plumbing, the electrical was hazardous, and the home had almost no insulation, save what Templeton and Michels found inside the walls.

Enough of the home’s original character remained to persuade Templeton and Michels to renovate the home rather than tear it down. As they brought it into the modern era, adding an HVAC system, new electrical and new plumbing, the two men worked diligently to preserve what they could.

They left the timbers in the walls, shoring them up with two-by-fours. They even cut a hole into the wall, so the new homeowners could see the original timbers. (The hole can be covered with a picture.) The stone walls remain, as do the heart of pine floors.

They acquired 100-year-old blown glass from a Washington home that was being renovated to replace the broken glass in their house.

“We tried to keep everything we could,” Templeton said. “It’s a pretty good period house.”

They also didn’t create any new rooms in the home, despite adding a bathroom and a laundry room. Instead, they converted existing rooms for their purposes.

Restoring the house was a hobby for Templeton and Michels, something they did on weekends. This was the first house they restored together, and they found they enjoy giving new life to old homes.

“Since I retired, we look around for things to buy and maybe fix up,” Templeton said.

The three-bedroom, three-bath house is listed at $479,000.

Listing: 33721 Snickersville Tpk., Bluemont

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@KathyOrtonWP, @postrealestate

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Kathy Orton is a reporter and Web editor for the Real Estate section. She covers the Washington metropolitan area housing market.
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