Save This Old House: Virginia Italianate
This post-Civil War historic district house has a lot to offer, including a two-room guesthouse
Location: Danville, Virginia
Contact: Mark Willard, 434-209-0618
The history: In the early 1870s, native son William Worsham, whose father was an early settler of Danville, used his tobacco fortune to build this home for himself and his wife, Mary. Worsham was determined to rebuild his ravaged hometown, which had served as a temporary headquarters for the Confederacy during the Civil War. He ran a tobacco factory, using his profits to fund the construction of a local women's college in 1876 and a local railroad a decade later, shortly before his death. After Mary died, in 1909, the house went through a series of owners and renovations.
Shown: This 2,758-square-foot house has a wide front porch and sits on almost three-quarters of an acre in Danville's Old West End historic district. A two-room guesthouse is behind the main structure.
Why save it? The distinguished three-bedroom home is an unusual regional variant of post-Civil War Italianate architecture. The exterior retains original details, such as the pedimented windows and the cornice, which has intricate scrollwork insets beneath the eave brackets.
What it needs: The house requires new plumbing and wiring and updates to the heating system. A leaking portion of the roof needs repair. A pending master plan for Danville will likely include incentives to finish returning the house, one of the town's most historic, back to the gracious single-family home it was meant to be.
Shown: The living room's oak fireplace surround was likely added a few decades after the original construction.
The home retains most of its original woodwork, including a turned newel post, door casings, baseboards, and heart pine floors.
A view from the side of the house. The original wood siding is intact but needs patching and painting.
All the original eave brackets are accounted for. Some had fallen off, but the current owners collected them so that they can be reattached by future owners.
The front entrance retains the original sidelights, transom, and pediment.
The most ornate of the home's six fireplace surrounds. A matching cabinet is built into an adjacent wall.
The fireplaces have been outfitted to run on natural gas.