“Spring It On” - Restoring Victorian-era home a labor of love

Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Mar 20, 2019 - 01:25 PM

Photo: Bri and William Earl Sadler are working on restoring this Victorian-style home at North to its original glory. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

Bri and William Earl Sadler are working on restoring this Victorian-style home at North to its original glory. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

When William Earl and Bri Sadler were looking at new homes, the quaint Victorian for sale just west of North Star Mart at North caught their eye, but at the time, they didn’t think it would quite fit the bill.

“I kept saying ‘no’ because I knew it didn’t have central heating and air, and that was one of the things we wanted,” William Earl said. However, it did fit two of the criteria they were looking for in a new home … it was spacious and is located on a small peninsula jutting into the waters of Blackwater Creek.

“We kept looking and looking and finally we said we would go by there,” he said. “As soon as we walked through the front door, we said, ‘This is it.’” The couple talked to their realtor that day to put a bid on the home.

William Earl said he grew up in an old house in Diggs and then built a new house. “That was great,” he said. “I didn’t have to do anything to it.”

The inside of the circa 1897 home was in pretty good condition, he said. The original Georgia pine floors had been recently refinished and the kitchen had received a good amount of attention from the previous owners including hand-made cabinets. The Sadlers replaced some carpeting along the stairway and in the upstairs bedrooms.

William Earl said it has been told that each piece of the pine flooring was brought up the creek.

However, once the outside the home was pressure washed, a lot of rot was found, especially along the front and back porches. Fortunately, none was found on the structure of the house, he said. However, eliminating the rotted material and replacing it with new wood was one of the first major projects the couple embarked on.

The couple has also repainted the exterior of the home to reflect Victorian-era colors. 

He said the couple hopes to complete the rest of the renovations in various phases. The work includes finishing painting, once William Earl recovers from recent shoulder surgery. Then he’ll tackle the front walkway to the home and finally go room by room to make finishing touches until the home is completed.

A final phase will be to refinish the large third floor that has been traditionally used as an attic. There were a lot of hidden treasures left up there, including the original sign of Sutt’s BBQ, which was a popular restaurant in Mathews in the 1950s. 

William Earl also just happened to run his hand over the frame of the doorway heading into the closet of the master bedroom one day and found a baseball card dating to 1910 that was pretty much in pristine condition other than a few bite marks from rodents. “It’s no telling what other hidden gems are around here and in the walls,” he said.

Once the third floor is finished, about 900 additional square feet will be added to the 2,800-square-foot home. The couple plans to make it into a large family room for the family of three children to enjoy.

After living in a more secluded area of the county for most of his life, William Earl said the only major drawback to their new home is its location off busy Route 14. However, the home sits back far enough on the 4.5-acre site that traffic noise is not a major issue.

He also added one of the biggest selling points of the home was that it did not require costly flood insurance.

To see all the photos of this and the three other home featured in this section, please subscribe to the Gazette-Journal online or pick up a copy of the paper.