PHW is Gifted the Lucille Lozier House

Lucille Lozier In 1978, PHW received its largest gift to date: the home of early founding member Lucille Lozier. “The Duchess,” who famously led PHW during the final year of the fight to save the Conrad House and laid the groundwork for the Historic District and Board of Architectural Review, bequeathed her home at 211 S. Washington St., some of her antiques, and a nucleus of funds to preserve and maintain the grounds to PHW.(1)(2)

After discussion, the PHW board voted to accept the house and conduct feasibility studies to determine the best use of the house in accordance to the spirit of her will. The major consideration was to make the house self-sustaining, so that PHW could continue its work preserving other property with the Jennings Revolving Fund. The committee, consisting of Judy Juergans, Chuck Yerkes, Katie Rockwood, Lee Taylor, Jim Laidlaw, Eleanor White, and Betsy Helm were charged with this task.

In May, the committee returned with their findings. The house was in need of maintenance, so it was suggested some of the Lozier fund be put toward the repairs to the most pressing issues concerning the roof rafters and basement walls, and a decorator showcase could be held in the house as a fundraiser. However, the necessary structural work complicated the fundraising plan, and it appears the decorator showcase had to be cancelled.

Lozier HouseSubsequently, the house was prepared for a single family residence rental property. It was anticipated that PHW would move its office into the Lozier House at a later point. However, the maintenance issues cost more and took longer to repair than anticipated. The house was not rented until 1980; this happily coincided with a lull in the Revolving Fund activity, which allowed PHW to operate as a landlord for a few years and to make incremental improvements to the property. By 1983, with the house substantially repaired, the grounds cleaned of dead trees and wild shrubbery, the Lozier maintenance fund depleted, and a number of significant properties becoming threatened in the downtown, the PHW board felt the pressure to get back into the Revolving Fund full time and end the landlord experiment. The Lozier House was sold to the tenants in 1983 with covenants similar to those placed on the Revolving Fund properties.

Although PHW never utilized the Lozier House as office or special event space as Lucille Lozier envisioned, PHW members who knew her thought she would not wish the house to become a burden on the organization and would see the pragmatism in selling the house to others who could continue to care and treasure it. Proceeds from the sale were set aside as a nest egg to fund office staff salary and other Revolving Fund activities.

Lozier House
Information on the Lozier House from PHW’s unpublished minutes and Lozier House files. View other images of the Lozier House on Flickr.

Winchester: Limestone, Sycamores and Architecture

Limestone, Sycamores and Architecture PHW dipped its toe in publishing with a coffee table style book showcasing Winchester’s architecture with professional photographs by James R. Morrison and text by architectural historian Walter Kidney. (1)(2) Riding the crest of the survey work and educational efforts, “Limestone, Sycamores and Architecture” was in some ways the culmination of all the various documentation and educational efforts up to that point, condensed into a visually appealing black and white photographic essay.

Limestone, Sycamores and Architecture Instead of focusing on the stories of individual buildings like Quarles’ books on historic properties, “Limestone, Sycamores and Architecture” attempted to provide an overview of the growth and changes of the town as a whole in five epochs – 1732-1770, 1770-1820, 1820-1865, 1865-1890, and 1890-present – using select images to illustrate the historic architecture of each era.

The book, with its timeless images captured in black and white, was dedicated to Lucille Lozier, president of PHW during the final fight for the Conrad House. Preorders were taken in 1976 to determine the print run, and in December of 1977, the first books were in-hand.(3) Three thousand books were printed. The first copy was presented to Mrs. Lozier at her home in a small commemorative ceremony. Seeing the book in-hand after three years of preparation was a “long-cherished dream [that] became reality.” (4)

Moving Into 8 East Cork Street

8 East Cork St.Along with the increased activity of PHW in the 1970s came the need for a formal office space to better conduct the business of the organization. The first temporary office was set up in the south wing of “Fair Mount” on Fairmont Avenue, but already the volunteers were on the lookout for a space to call PHW Headquarters. The search led back to 8 East Cork Street, the small stone building PHW had hoped to purchase a few years earlier.

Now owned by the First Presbyterian Church, the former Friendship Market was looking sadly dilapidated and abandoned. PHW members volunteered to spruce up the interior and exterior of the building for more hands-on preservation work for their future office. An anonymous donor underwrote the expenses of new wiring, insulation, window sashes, doors, ceilings, and leveling the floors. The faux-stone facade was removed from the eastern frame addition, paint was removed from the limestone, the roof was replaced, missing windows were restored, and much of the rear wall was painstaking rebuilt with matching limestone from John Rodman’s farm. Sarah Pugh donated her landscaping skills to complete the exterior overhaul.

Future Home for Preservation GroupJohn Rodman and Bill Miller did most of the work, going on-site every Saturday for close to a year preparing the building for its new use. PHW announced its upcoming move to 8 East Cork Street in February 1977, expecting to move in the next month.

Moving day was set for mid-March. Images in the Winchester Star captured PHW volunteers Tom Rockwood and Jay Wetzel moving in the antique furniture to complete the workspace. Just a week later, the PHW Board of Directors held their first meeting in the building, making the building officially seem like home. After a bit of settling in, an open house was held in June of that year. People were encouraged to stop by and take advantage of PHW’s increased visibility in the downtown office. As stated in the March 15, 1977 Winchester Star article, “8 East Cork Street is there for the benefit and enjoyment of all.” (1) The building was to be PHW’s home for the next eight years.

8 East Cork St.
View more images and articles relating to 8 East Cork Street at Flickr.

The Holiday House Tour

Holiday House Tour 1975 Although PHW has secured lines of credit and several grants and loans through the National Trust as part of the Jennings Revolving Fund and Simon Lauck House project, there was always a need to replenish the coffers with fundraisers. Thus the Holiday House Tour was born in 1975.

The tour took its cues from similar events in Charleston and Savannah. Grand homes would be traditionally decorated and opened to visitors via guided tours, with the proceeds from the ticket sales benefiting the local revolving fund. The first tour, fittingly enough, focused on the homes of PHW members along Fairmont Avenue, Amherst Street, and North Washington Street with a rest stop with hot drinks at Christ Episcopal Church. The Bough and Dough Shop was also held at the church.(1)(2)

Holiday House Tour 1975The formula proved successful, and the tour has been followed that pattern since then with only two noteworthy experiments in approach. The first, in 1978, was an “exterior only” tour of other in-progress Revolving Fund Houses on South Loudoun Street, with Lee Taylor donating an enormous gingerbread castle for a raffle. Although still a successful fundraiser, the event was quickly refocused on providing interior tours. The second change occurred in 1989, when Saturday tour hours were added for the first time, likely to help ease the difficulty of visiting the sites as the tour focused on county properties that year (not a “walkable” tour as is generally the norm). Since then, the Saturday hours morphed into the Preview Party on Saturday evening.

The tour, in addition to being a fundraiser, was also conceived by the organizers as a way to involve all of the members of PHW in an event. Although it is unlikely we have ever reached the goal of “100% participation” from our members, the tour regularly involves at least one-third of the membership in some capacity, whether as a homeowner, decorator, docent, musician, craftsman, baker, or ticket taker. Not too shabby.

Holiday House Tours

Images from some early Holiday House Tours have been scanned, with more waiting to be digitized. Take a trip down memory lane at the Picasa album.

Surveying for the Historic District

1976 Survey Research PHW became serious about documenting the town in 1974. As we saw in the Simon Lauck house post, the 1966 survey of worthy buildings was what you would call a “windshield survey,” or the kind of quick visual determination a researcher would make based just on what could be observed from a site visit.(1) (2) The term windshield survey is derived from the typical practice of driving through neighborhoods and looking at the buildings through the windshield to form an overview of the area and its character. Obviously any information gathered from this work is preliminary, and Winchester’s 1966 survey was no exception. It contained no history, no attempt at dating structures, nor even any attempt at recording the architectural style of the building in question.

Omission from the 1966 list was part of what made the fight to save the Simon Lauck house so difficult to justify to the regional Salvation Army – without documentation, it is easy to dismiss sad-looking houses as expendable and historically worthless, particularly if the historic significance is of local interest or hinges upon unique architectural features. Although today we generally talk about the financial incentives behind a National Register listing, the broader goal is to raise awareness of the historic resources we should preserve in our own backyards.(3)(4) That was the primary motivation for the 1976 survey, as well as providing PHW direction for areas to work on for the Revolving Fund and a tool to aid the Board of Architectural Review with applications.

First, a class of UVA graduate students – Julia Henley, Samuel Klingensmith, Nancy Recchie, and Royce Yeater – completed survey work for approximately 300 buildings. They focused on the northwestern portion of the current historic district. A small group of PHW volunteers took up the remainder of the 1060 properties where the student researchers stopped. Katie Rockwood coordinated the group, consisting of field workers Pat Zontine, Joanna Berg, Sandy Lee, Virginia Miller and photographer Ben Ritter. John G. Lewis reviewed the forms and corrected information as the architectural historian. The survey took two years to complete, and was acknowledged as often being a “best guess” based on the exterior details and historical information available at the time of the survey. The Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of 1897 were used extensively in the research, with volunteers color-coding the maps by construction materials.

The survey forms included basic information such as the address, present owner, historic name and/or original owner where available, construction date estimated by decade, architectural style based on exterior visual clues, and a sliding scale of architectural significance from “excellent” to “none.” The “none” category included modern construction and on occasion older buildings that had been inappropriately altered, often with notes on what alterations could be made to improve the appearance. Many, but not all, properties included a written architectural description to supplement the photographs, which can be used in situations like the Noakes House project, when a cornice needed to be recreated but no good visual image of the cornice was available. The written description could give some indication of what it “should” have looked like. In some cases, deed research or historical descriptions were also included to back up construction dates or original owners.

Although now superseded by the 2008-2011 survey, the work from the 1976 survey continues to be used in BAR applications today due to its easy to read “at a glance” format and now historic photographic documentation.

1976 Architectural Survey

Scanning of the original photographs of the 1976 survey is ongoing, but completed areas may be viewed in the Picasa album. Copies of the 1976 inventory and the summary report of the survey, which was used heavily for constructing this blog post, may be obtained directly from PHW.

The Simon Lauck House

Efforts Made to Save Lauck Home At last, with a trained revolving fund director and a recharged membership united behind the memory of Ray Jennings, PHW was ready to tackle a project through the Revolving Fund. That property just happened to be the Simon Lauck House at 311 South Loudoun Street. In 1974, the Salvation Army had purchased the duplex at 309-311 South Loudoun Street with an eye toward demolishing the building to expand the operations in their headquarters at 303 South Loudoun Street. PHW was interested in preserving the otherwise unassuming-looking building, because preserved inside the duplex was the log cabin of a famous early owner, Simon Lauck.

The duplex had not originally been listed in PHW’s 1966 list of worthy buildings in part because the Victorian-era makeover had been too complete, making the house look “younger” than it actually was. The initial survey of Winchester had lacked many of the tools we now take for granted when researching area buildings, like Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. However, more intensive research uncovered the core of the building was much older and more important than anyone first guessed.

Simon Lauck House Simon Lauck, along with his brothers Peter (of Red Lion Tavern fame) and Abraham, was part of the Dutch Mess organized in Winchester during the Revolutionary War. According to local legend, the Lauck brothers were part of Daniel Morgan’s honor guard and acted as translators with captured Hessians soldiers. After the Revolutionary War, the brothers returned to Winchester, each taking up residence on South Loudoun Street. Simon set up his gunsmithy on this property. Over the years, the house was expanded, then later updated with Victorian gingerbread details. By the 1970s, the Simon Lauck house was in decline, leading to its potential status as a playground.

When PHW approached the Salvation Army to purchase the Simon Lauck house, the initial offer was only for the logs after the house was demolished. This offer was not good enough for PHW, sparking a long and heated back-and-forth negotiation with regional Salvation Army leaders. In the end, the negotiations succeeded and PHW owned its very first historic building.

The plan at the time was to restore the building’s exterior to its appearance circa 1790 as a proof to Winchester that many of the “Victorian” houses in the Potato Hill area in fact contained a much older log nucleus. To achieve this, a substantial portion of the house was removed, reducing it from a duplex to a single residence and stripping most of the exterior away. PHW volunteers did a great deal of the hands-on work at the Simon Lauck house, as documented by Virginia Miller.

In 1976, the log cabin was exposed and a new owner purchased the building from PHW and completed the work in making the former duplex a charming office. Although the ride was bumpy, in the end one of Winchester’s oldest log buildings was preserved and still serves as a reminder of our frontier roots just blocks from Old Town.

Simon Lauck House

View more progress pictures of the Simon Lauck House at Picasa

For more reading on the Lauck family and gunsmithy, investigate some of the following links:
Lauck Family Genealogy
A Simon Lauck Buck and Ball Gun
A John Lauck Rifle at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

The Jennings Revolving Fund

Although the organization had attempted to acquire property for hands-on preservation through the 1960s and early 1970s, no purchases resulted from the attempts. That was to change in 1974 with the creation of the W. Raymond Jennings Revolving Fund.

Ray Jennings, mentioned previously as one of the best advocates for Winchester’s rich architectural heritage in the Feb. 7 post, was also one of the strongest advocates for the revolving fund idea in Winchester.(1) Such a fund’s purpose in a preservation-oriented organization would be to purchase, protect with covenants, and resell endangered property to new owners willing to undertake the renovation. Because of his experience traveling to other cities to learn from their preservation efforts, Ray Jennings had seen revolving funds in action and knew they could be powerful tools for historic preservation. Throughout his time in Winchester, he had worked tirelessly to see a revolving fund become a reality.

Line of Credit His insistence bore fruit. He was president briefly in 1973-1974 before he had to relocate for his job, but in that short time of leadership, strategic plans were being put into place to pursue the idea of starting a Winchester revolving fund. The “Grand Event” in 1973 not only increased the membership threefold, but also put away a small starting nest egg for the fund. In 1974, the PHW leadership reorganized and created the position of revolving fund director for Betsy Helm.(2) Four lines of credit were opened at local banks, and the PHW board of directors led the pledge campaign to raise funds with each member contributing to the start up pool.(3) And last, PHW applied for several grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to help jump-start the effort.(4)

Educational efforts (which will be covered more in depth in later posts) were launched in conjunction with the revolving fund in order to increase the awareness for the need to preserve our historic buildings. Speakers from major cities were brought in to conduct workshops and lectures on the revolving funds of Charleston, Savannah, Fredericksburg, and Pittsburgh.(5)(6)(7)(8) For the first time, PHW officially had an office to dedicate to these activities in the south wing of Betsy Helm’s home.

Ray Jennings had been scheduled to return and visit his friends in Winchester in September of 1974. He learned by telephone that the PHW revolving fund he had pushed for so strongly during his time here was soon to become a reality with a project building already in sale negotiations. It was to have been a happy reunion and a chance to catch up on the exciting changes at PHW, but tragedy struck. Ray had boarded the doomed Eastern Air Lines Flight 212 and did not survive the crash. (9)(10)

The news was devastating, but also served as a galvanizing force for PHW to succeed in the task of starting a revolving fund. Ray’s wife LouAnne requested that in lieu of memorials, donations should be made to PHW; the funds were put aside for the revolving fund. And most importantly, the fund itself was named in his honor so that we could all remember the good work he did during his four years in Winchester. His legacy is reflected in the nearly 80 properties overseen through the Jennings Revolving Fund, which keeps the memory and idealism of his activism alive and well forty years later.

Next week, we will learn about the all-important first revolving fund project – the Simon Lauck house on South Loudoun Street.

Information on the creation of the Jennings Revolving Fund in this post collected from oral history and unpublished speeches provided by Betsy Helm.

The Projects That Got Away

We often talk about our successes at PHW, but it’s important to remember that not every project or property we’ve set our sights on was able to be saved through our efforts. Here are a few “big fish” stories from 1963 to the early 1970s which did not bear fruit.

Old Homes Give Way Some of the demolished properties which initially concerned the nucleus of PHW in 1963 included Dr. Baldwin’s stone office and the Cannon Ball House on South Loudoun Street, the Capper House on North Loudoun Street, the Chanticleer Inn on West Boscawen Street, and the Hollis House on Cork Street. It appears that these properties were used as examples in the November 1963 meeting at the Handley Library, mentioned in passing in the January 24 post.

Concurrent with the Conrad House, several other buildings were part of the public discussion on parking lots downtown. This included the old health building, the Firestone Building, and Valley Distributors at Braddock and Amherst Streets. The properties were consolidated by the Winchester Parking Authority and razed in 1966-1968, eventually becoming the Braddock Street Parking garage. PHW spoke out in particular for the old health building, even attempting the lease the building to prevent its demolition.(1)(2)(3)(4)

Hawthorn Toward the end of the battle for the Conrad House, Hawthorn on Amherst Street was similarly being threatened with demolition for subdivisions for more Whittier Acres construction if the building could not be sold. Although PHW toyed with the idea of buying the property jointly with other civic organizations, the idea did not come to pass and the home was preserved through private efforts. Conrad House enthusiasts may be pleased to note the front porch now on Hawthorn was salvaged from the Conrad House.

Following the demolition of the Conrad House, efforts were made to purchase the small stone building then at 8 East Cork Street, often referred to as Friendship Market. That building, as well as several others, was for sale as part of the Sirbaugh Estate. However, the sellers had no desire to split up the package of properties and sell the stone building separately. PHW still managed to have a hand in that building’s preservation, which we will cover in a later post.(5)(6)

Also considered for purchase was the stone building at 15 South Braddock Street, as its location was no longer suitable for a dwelling and it could be adapted for office use.(7) Houses on Sharp Street were circled several times as being of interest to restore to provide more low-cost housing in the city and to retain for their historical and architectural value.(8) Properties on South Loudoun were also seen as potential purchases for similar restoration efforts. Word reached PHW about a possible City-led demolition of a log house at 502 1/2 South Cameron Street. None of the gentle inquiries or outright offers about purchasing these properties bore fruit.

Next week, however, we will learn how PHW became motivated to start a revolving fund and become serious about purchasing endangered properties.

Fundraising Saves South Braddock Street Home

And the Wall Came Tumbling DownThe first successful preservation effort undertaken by PHW in the 1970s was the fundraising effort to save a vernacular limestone dwelling on South Braddock Street. According to Quarles’ The Story of One Hundred Homes in Winchester, Virginia, the house at 409 South Braddock Street was constructed circa 1835, most likely by William Lawrey, and subsequently had been owned for about 75 years by the Lawrey family heirs.

By 1971 the home was in need of structural repairs. The owners, Russell and Lucy Roberts, had started the process to repair the building before the damage became too severe. They engaged a contractor to initiate repairs to the cracked northern wall. However, it was to be some time before the contractor finished a prior project and could start on their home.

The day before the contractor was to begin work on the Roberts’ family home, a significant portion of the northern wall collapsed, spilling the front porch, limestone blocks, and contents of the house onto the sidewalk and a station wagon parked on the street. Luckily, no one in the Roberts family was injured in the collapse and shoring up the building could begin almost immediately.(1)

Roberts Family Has Moved Back InBecause of PHW’s prior interest in the preservation of buildings like this around the downtown, a fundraising effort was able to be launched less than a week after the collapse, headed by Wilkie Hunt.(2) The $6,000.00 raised through the pledge drive and other unnamed PHW activities was loaned to the Roberts family for the reconstruction.(3)

After about a year, the reconstruction efforts were complete and the Roberts family was able to return to their home.(4) The building remains one of Winchester’s excellent examples of local limestone construction with no hint of the disaster that once befell the property. It was tangible validation that preservation worked and the community was willing to financially back an appropriate effort. The much-discussed idea of purchasing buildings through a PHW-driven revolving fund to save them directly seemed like it could become a reality. The catch? Finding the right project, then buying it.