Project Page – Gray Residence
Residential, Waterfront Development
Historic Features: This property is the former Landing Site for the Bowden’s Ferry Crossing permitted in 1735. The ferry was guided by cable to cross the Lafayette River and connect Sewell’s Point, Fort Norfolk, and property of the Ivy Plantation. The old “corduroy” landing is still visible today during our extreme spring low tides. Clay bowl smoking pipes have also been found during excavations and gardening activities speculated to be from the adjacent property’s Ordinary Inn dated back to circa 1610-1630. Lastly, Channel Marker 17 of the Lafayette River has “No. 2” of its 3 triangulation U.S.Coast Gaurd geodetic benchmarks positioned in the lower region of the yard on the waterside dated 1929.
Historic Ownership: The sub-division of Ivy Plantation occurred in 1909-1911 and became the Algonquin Park Corporation which invited construction of early 20th century traditional Tidewater styled homes. The original 1033 North Shore Road residence was built and occupied in 1930 by Louis I. Jaffee, a Pulitzer Prize Winner. In 1945 Robert & Madeline Welton of Norfolk’s Smith & Welton store purchased the home and in 1953, Duryea “Bud” & Ruth Gray of Norfolk’s Gray’s Pharmacy became the new owners. It has remained a generational home for the Gray family for 69 years. In 1998, William Gray & Donna Phaneuf assumed ownership and began a 24-year journey of restoration and modernization to make this their family home and preserve the structure in perpetuity. As of 2022, the final round of restoration and preservation efforts focused on completion of the exterior siding, trim, details, and ornamentation.
The first round of modernization efforts in 1998-2000 removed a glass enclosed porch addition which had been constructed on grade well within the flood plain and 3.5’ lower than the finish floor elevation of the original house. The owner’s principal program requirements called for removing this porch addition and constructing a more expansive, 1- story modern family room elevated out of the flood plain. In the traditional spirit of a true Norfolk waterfront home, a properly restated elegant “front yard” façade was developed on the river side. (Here in Norfolk, street side elevations of waterfront homes are considered the rear of the house – not the front). This front yard is graced with thirteen 250–300-year-old maritime heritage Live Oak trees creating a full cover canopy of shade and shelter.
This addition carefully considers compatibility of scale, detailing, and materiality. It nods to the original “big house” gabled roof form with inset “small house” gabled skylights and lightly connects to the original home with an offset hyphen. At this joint, windows and the original front door all become “walk through” transition portals fully trimmed and panelized to match the existing interior paneling patterns. The skylights add volume, allow continuance of light deep into the original rooms, and permit unobstructed view from the 2nd story bedroom windows. Other modernizations include an expanded new kitchen, introduction of air conditioning, and a refresh of interior finishes.
Many other upgrades and renovations have occurred over the years to include introduction of closet space in the bedrooms, modernized bathrooms, a restored 3rd floor level with 2 bedrooms and a full bath, slate roof repairs, a new pier and boat ramp, a floating dock, a new riprap bulkhead, and a new driveway surface with cobblestone edging and detailing at the entry drive apron. The gardens and 90-year-old volunteer side yards of trees and shrubs have been selectively cleared and pruned to allow definition of significant antique understory azalea, camellia, dogwood, holly, and wild hydrangea varieties, forsythia, Japanese quince and scheffleras, and junipers. Hemlock, pines, magnolias, elm, and cedar dominant the upper canopies.
The recent and final preservation efforts for consideration of this Norfolk Preservation Collective Award center around bringing back to life the original detailing of the exterior façade. In 1958, Bud Gray passed away leaving Ruth a widow. From this point forward, 1958 – 1998, care for the home became virtually non-existent and many elements fell into decline. Shutters, roof rails, siding, and trim features rotted and failed. Aluminum siding and fake plastic molded elements were installed in 1980. The appearance of the home became “faux” traditional at best with the artificial skin and fake products cloaking the beautiful original architectural details and craftmanship.
A collection of “last pass” efforts in 2020-2022 removed the balance of the aluminum siding exposing the rest of the white cedar 10” exposure shingles and 2nd floor cedar shiplap siding. Old paint layers on the original siding have been stripped, the flat roofs are insulated, re-roofed, and the missing roof railings are re-instated. The phantom wood shutters are re-crafted to bring back the original full size operable design; louvered shutters are hung on the second floor to promote airflow convection and panelized shutters are hung on the first floor for security while sleeping. This is an important and notable historic feature as the house was not constructed with air-conditioning and comfort was reliant on managing daylight while promoting air flow and security. Rotted trim at windows, doors, and cornices is now replaced.
All these finer, more craftsman like features of the home have been replaced with a permanent, rot resistant Accoya Wood product. This building material is an industry benchmark when it comes to performance and sustainability. It is a durable, stable, and versatile preserved timber product and will stand the TEST OF TIME!
As of 2022, the 24 years of accumulative modernization, restoration, and preservation efforts are complete. The owners have truly pressed this home into its future for many generations to come as a model for other stately historic properties to follow.
Front Entry with Security Manager Present