Folk victorian entryway
Photo: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn
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Maintaining the Home's Historical Value

For Workman, the first order of business was addressing the house's thin walls, drafty windows, and swollen heating bills. Which led to Paula's first encounter with prickly historic-district guidelines.

Settled in the early 18th century, Staunton has six historic districts; Newtown, the oldest residential area, is on the national and state registers of historic places. The town, by granting property-tax abatements, encourages homeowners to make improvements, but within the districts, any changes visible from a public street have to be historically appropriate. State officials offer tax credits to those who renovate historic homes, but qualifying is tough because "they look inside, where they seek to maintain the original character and features," explains Sharon Angle, the town's planning director.

As it turned out, the first thing Paula asked Workman to do was remove the plaster walls so that he could insulate before putting up drywall—ah, and there was the rub. During the 18-month renovation, "the one huge surprise was being turned down for a Virginia state tax credit because I'd knocked out the plaster," Paula says. "That was a setback financially."

With an eye on local historic-district guidelines, Borzelleca built a Victorian-style front door and sidelights, using reclaimed redwood and a warm oil finish, and Workman shopped for traditional half-round, galvanized-metal gutters and a classic red standing-seam steel roof.

But with state tax credits now moot, the team was free to think creatively inside and at the rear of the house.

Shown: The new door and sidelights, made with reclaimed redwood, get their amber glow from a clear oil finish.
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