Our 1910 Colinial Revival Mansion restored

buddy1114November 1, 2008

We bought our circa 1910 Colonial Revival Mansion in Knoxville, TN in 1998 and it was in really bad shape. It was the third "Big House" built on the land purchased by the Sterchi Family in 1845. Locally known as the "Sterchi Mansion" the Sterchi's named it "Stratford Hall". It was their main house for the 1500 plus acre estate. They also owned the Sterchi Brothers Furniture stores all over the south east and headquartered in a 22 story building still in extant in downtown Knoxville, TN. We are the third owners and when we purchased the house it needed EVERYTHING done to it. My wife and I have restored many old houses (she says it is a sickness!) so there was nothing that needed to be done that we had not done before, it was just the sheer volume of what it needed that was so overwhelming. Anyway, after 11 years of nearly constant work and a whole lot of money, it is pretty well restored to its original state. It is truly a masterpiece of design and construction. The material used in the construction cannot be duplicated today. The main floor has cherry wood trim and 2 sets cherry pocket doors that work perfectly. The library has a beautiful mahogany fireplace surround. We remodeled the kitchen and breakfast room from a very small kitchen, a hallway and a butlers pantry. The original pedestal tub and commode were relocated to their proper location in the main 2nd floor bathroom and most everything else we tried to repair and put back like it would have been in 1910. We did add 2 heat pumps for cooling and light heating. We use the original steam radiators when it gets real cold, although we are planning to upgrade to a more efficient furnace asap. There was a walk up attic of about 1200 sq. ft. and we turned it into a home theater/hang out for our 18 year old son. I will post some before and after pictures. (All of my before pics taken before 2001 are not digital and will have to be scanned) It has been a real adventure and definitely worth the effort. We applied last week to have the house recorded on the National Historic Register. We are just beginning to restore the Carriage house!?!?!?!?.

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Nothing like being able to brag about something...

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 5:43AM
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I, for one, cannot wait to see pictures and thank Buddy for preserving this house for posterity.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 9:23AM
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I, for two, cannot wait to see pictures and once again thank Buddy for preserving this house for posterity! But when can we see the inside? I'm sure Lucy is clamping at the bit to see them also!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 9:36AM
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Congrats on all your hard work!
Looks beautiful from exterior & it would
be great to see your interior pictures.
I think you earned your bragging rights.
take care.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 11:33AM
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Was it, by any chance, designed by George F. Barber? A similar design is seen in one of his (reprinted) books.
It's obviously a magnificent specimen whether or not.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 12:16PM
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Elegant! Thank you for sharing your photo.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 4:47PM
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Just beautiful. Can't wait to see the inside.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 5:20PM
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Wow, that is a really nice looking house.
How many rooms and what's the square footage of it?

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 8:01PM
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Thank you for your kind comments! It helped me to hear/see success stories when we were in the middle of this mammoth project and that is the primary motivation for this posting. And of course I am proud of how it turned out!!! I hope it will encourage someone in the midst of a remodel or to begin a restoration of a worthy old home that will otherwise be destroyed. Our heritage is so important!
Stratford Hall was design by an architectural firm named R. F. Graf & Sons. I am not sure but I think they were located in NYC. George F. Barber was an Architect here in Knoxville and I, too first thought it was designed by him but later found proof positive it was Graff. Good guess! The Barber firm and later his son's firm, Barber and McMurry were excellent architects and very prolific that were among the first to sell really first class house plans by mail order. There are many of their homes still in extant here in Knoxville.
The house has just under 6,000 square feet.There are 13 major rooms. It has a basement that houses my office, a craft room, and a furnace room. The main floor has a large foyer, Drawing room, Library, Dinning room, Kitchen/Breakfast room and a powder room. The second floor has a sitting room at the top of the stair landing, 4 bedrooms and 2 full baths. The third floor has our home theater, another full bath, a small kitchen, a computer/internet nook in one of the dormers, a dinning area and a foosball table. We made an area on the widows walk roof to set up our telescope for some stargazing. It is just the right size for my family of 5. We all have our areas and we use every bit of the house. We also do a lot of fund raisers for different community causes and host many activities for our church.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 11:07PM
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You should be very proud, and absolutely have bragging rights! Thanks for sharing your story and providing some well needed inspiration. I bought and c. 1911 Colonial house back and July, and going through the renovation blues (it needs everything as well, that I wasn't prepared for financially). I'm doing everything I can to keep the house and pouring every penny I make into making it come alive again.

Thanks for showing me that persistence does pay off!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 11:52PM
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I found a few pics that are digital. Most of the before were taken before we got a digital camera. The woodpeckers had made holes all over the columns.It took eight weeks to scrape the 50 plus layers of paint of the columns with a special made scrapers and heat guns! They are 36 inches in diameter at the base. All but one of the bases had to be replaced! Ugh!!! Big job!!! Three of the 6 capitals and 1 of the pilasters had to be replaced! Another big job!!! Fortunately the original owners had the forethought to leave a "model" of the capitals in the attic and we made a mold from it and you absolutely cannot tell which are original and which are new. The style is Scamozzi.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 11:57PM
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There is no doubt that you can build a new house quicker and cheaper than restoring an old one but the reward is far greater in restoring. Keep up the good work clover8, it is a big investment in time and money but I really do think it is worth it!!! Just remember "This too will pass" and then you can relax and enjoy your hard work!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 12:04AM
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That house is absolutely f'ing gorgeous!!!! I have a 1932 American Colonial that is a much more modest 2100 sf. I think I am going to have troubles keeping my renovation budget to $125,000, and that is with me doing almost all the work, as I used to be a contractor for many years. But to renovate a home of that size? My god, I can not even think of the costs. Do I ever love old homes tho. I applaud you for taking on this massive task, and saving a piece of history, even if you are bragging!!! LOL....I am kidding, you earned the right!!!!!!!!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE the home!!!! Post more pics.....I am sure many people would love to see more.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 3:29AM
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Absolutely gorgeous! I can't even begin to imagine the thought, the work and of course the money that went into this project but the end result is fabulous.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 10:10AM
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some more of the front and decked out for Christmas.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 10:53AM
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fabulous. We're only about 20 percent through with our 1888 Victorian, so seeing the end result does help -- even if we suffer from the same sickness and have done this before! Love the woodwork and character.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 1:39PM
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Congratulations on your excellent restoration of a fabulous house! Our 1910 Craftsman is finally restored too, after 20 years. Your house should definitely be on the Register. And why don't you contact the Old House Journal for a feature article? That way more people could see it.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 12:43AM
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I totally agree with jcin_los_angeles. Contact the Old House Journal. I want to see more!! :) Every time I look at this place I fall back in love. I love my place too(which i will put a link to a thread regarding it), which I have a lot of plans for, but to be honest, it doesn't hold a candle to this place. Even your Christmas decorating is very nice and tasteful.

Here is a link that might be useful: My 1932 Colonial/Georgian

    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 1:43AM
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This house was no doubt one of the many built to emulate the pavilions at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 that had two story classical columns. They are often called Colonial Revival but many feel it is more accurate to call them Neoclassical.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 10:48AM
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Wow...wow....wow...and more WOW!!!

Hey, I'd be stopping strangers in the cereal aisle at the grocery store to show them pictures of this loving restoration! "Excuse me...here's my house...before...and after! Yes, my family and I did all the work!"...

You should be extremely proud not only for doing an excellent job but for saving a STUNNING historic home!! In these days where so many of them end up under a wrecking ball for yet more ugly contemporary condos, I'm tearing up a little just out of sheer joy for the work you did.

It's realy so beautiful and elegant.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 11:29AM
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That is truly a stunning home .Thankyou so much for seeing the potential and saving it and posting it here for us to see . Its very motivational for anyone in the middle of a remodle.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 3:00PM
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Thanks Hollis and Linda for resurrecting a beautiful slice of history.

I can't imagine living in a home and working on it for 11 years--and remaining married!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 6:47PM
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Good Sleuthing worthy!!! How did you know our names! Thank you again for all of your kindness. I will get in touch with the Old House Journal" and see what happens. We have been out of town and for the past couple of days and tomorrow we are hosting a wedding in the garden so I have been REAL busy today. I will post some pictures of the wedding. The fall color of the maples and the huge Gingo are beautiful, it is raining now and I hope we do not loose the leaves tonight to the wind! I took this picture earlier this week.

Here is the Duck Pond. It used to be a spring fed "cement pond". Here is a close up of the Front Door and surrond made of Walnut. Keith Henschen spent 4 weeks scraping many, many layers of old paint off to reveal the beautiful detail of the wood carving. It never ceases to amaze me what people will do to beautiful craftsmanship!
    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 11:03PM
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That is lovely, breathtaking, incredible,...oh my... A genuine labor of love, no doubt. You should be exceptionally proud--and good on you for sharing it with your community.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 9:47AM
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WOW what a fabulous house!!

I have some questions for you, if you don't mind. What is the wall covering in the parlor (green, front) room? I've been trying to find just the right green wallpaper for my dining room and that looks like just what I've been looking for. A simple green with a hint of pattern. Also do you have pictures of the ceiling in your music (the other front) room? My house is just a simple farmhouse, but the living room was remodeled with fake beams and two real ones. I've always figured I would rip out the fake ones and then "do something" with real ones. But your room looks so nice, I thought I might try to do something like that in my room, although on a MUCH smaller scale, LOL.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 6:28PM
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We choose the green/gold from the carved wooden moldings that are on the wall (they make a rectangle on each wall, see the one around the clock) I took them off very carefully, numbered each one and stored them until I was ready to replace them. Then I removed the 5 layers of wall paper within each rectangle, drew a line to mark the location using the nail holes of the moldings as a guide. Next we repaired the cracks by cutting a v-cut all along the crack. After sanding I painted the inside of the rectangle with a metallic gold paint called "Ballroom Gold" (I believe it is from Ralph Loren). Next I painted the outside of the rectangle with a eggshell paint from Pittsburgh Paints, the color is "Fairmont Green". Next went on a layer of "crackle medium" from Home Depot. Then I went over the entire wall with the Fairmont Green and let the crackle medium do its thing. You have to roll the top layer on over the crackle medium, it won't work if you spray and it is really hard to make it work if you brush it on. Then, lastly I had to even out the gold so I took a real sea sponge about the size of a cantelope, cut it in half and dipped it into the Ballroom Gold and just lightly "sponged" the gold paint on just to even out the pattern. It would have been much easier to put up paper but this is a 6 step paint job. This picture shows the actual paint technique better.

And I wanted to show you the ginger bread house that was made for us last year. It was a model of Stratford Hall and soooo beautiful! Notice the wall color in the foyer, it is a 5 step process. I was an Art Major in college so I loved to come up with different painting techniques. This one makes the wall look like an old parchment. RE: the Drawing room ceiling, I can't find a good close up of it but I will take one and post it as soon as I can find that thing that transfers pictures to the computer.
    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 9:12PM
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Just gorgeous. I enjoyed looking.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 9:19PM
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OMG, I'm stunned you did that with paint! I thought for sure it was some obsure wallpaper that I didn't find in my many hours of researching on the internet. You are very talented with the painting and the decorations! Cute gingerbread house, looking at those pictues makes me to forward to Christmas. Every year, I make a simple gingerbread cottage with my girls (8 & 3). We have a great time and I'm pleased if it at least looks like a cottage, LOL.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2008 at 9:46AM
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There is a similar home for sale in the town I live in. Maybe it was a common style, but the resemblence in some of the details is striking.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 2:56PM
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You should be proud - the place is just.......Luscious!
Of course that you have a pond is truly exciting (wildlife lover that I am)

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 3:55PM
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What happened to my pictures?

    Bookmark   November 15, 2008 at 10:04PM
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I still see your pictures. Your house is great!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2008 at 11:11PM
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acc0406- That house looks amazing. Are you thinking of buying it? Do you think that is a good price for the area? The price looks attractive to me, but of course the value of a home from one real estate market to the next is just staggering.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 3:37AM
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tyguy, that is what I was thinking. Looks like a great buy to me, if you are in the market for a large house. They are hard to heat. Cooling is not so bad. It looks like it is in pretty good condition to, just from the pictures. Ours was a real mess.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 2:09PM
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Hey tyguy, that is your 1932 snow-covered Georgian? It is beautiful!!! I love the grace and symmetry of the house. I agree there is some Irish influence about it. Love the gutters! Do you use the attic? Looks like a great place for a bonus room, with those dormers.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 2:15PM
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Although that house is very intriguing, I don't have the time or resources to undertake that project.

The house has been on the market for about a year (if not more). It's my understanding that the current owners have tried to restore the basics. My feeling is that the house is somewhere between being overpriced and needing a buyer who loves an old house. It seems like many buyers in the area are more impressed with a huge master suite than restoring an old house.

Given the location of the house and the lot, I think it would make a great B&B. For the time being though, I'm going to stick with my 1930's traditional a couple blocks away.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 11:22AM
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The original gazebo was just a pile of rubble but I would not let anyone touch it until we were ready to rebuild it. Today it is exactly like it was in 1910 only with new wood. The only thing that is original is the ridge cap on the roof.

Side view of the Porte Cochere. The carriage step is still there. This is a shot of the third floor home theater and family room. The orginal brick and marble entry.
    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 12:02AM
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Simply breathtaking! I love it.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 5:29PM
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You've done an unbelievably beautiful job there. What a treasure of a house and what an incredible job you've done. I love, love, love, LOVE the pictures!!!

Rose Thornton
author, The Houses That Sears Built

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 4:00PM
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Your home is beautiful! I would love to have a home like yours, but we're going to continue chugging along with our little bungalow. Thanks for posting so many pix.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 5:32PM
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You are living my dream! ;-)

Always ;-)

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 8:45PM
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Buddy, where exactly is this beautiful place? I live in Knoxville, love old houses but yours is one that has somehow escaped me. I got to this site only because I am researching a neoclassical house that we're hoping to purchase that we believe is a Barber. Phenomenal job!

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 9:09PM
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We were just notified that Stratford Hall has been placed on the Tennessee Historical Register and the National Historic Register. PTL!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2009 at 8:58PM
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That's amazing. I am just floored by all of your hard work and your fantastic results!

Are you giving tours? I'm in Chattanooga... ;) (just kidding, I know its your family home)

    Bookmark   August 4, 2009 at 10:31PM
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Well, beginning next April, we will be hosting weddings and other events. Have you seen "The Wedding Crashers"? Ha Ha, just kidding. We have had lots of events here, like fund raisers for the Consumer Counseling Service and we had a Christmas open house for the Halls Womens Club. They had over 650 people come through!!!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 4:54PM
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buddy, I was just reading over some of the older posts and came across your house. It is just beautiful! About 30 years ago, (when I was a young thing, lol)I made my 1st furniture purchase from Sterchi's! A gold, crushed velvet living room set! Ah, heaven - I was in style! I kept it over 20 years. Glad to see you have restored such an amazing home.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 12:27PM
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Wow! idie2live, that is too cool. I understand that they made some quality furniture. I have been looking for some of the original pieces and finally found a mirror that hung in Mr. Sterchi's bedroom. I heard recently about an original chandelier for sale that hung somewhere in the house, will check it out. Crushed velvet... I remember the day when that was all the rage.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 11:29PM
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Many MANY years ago, my family had a production woodworking company producing patio furniture. Sterchi's was one of the quality stores who sold our products. It is a VERY small world!!
Your home is beyond gorgeous and I have so enjoyed seeing the pictures, and reading your story. I can appreciate what went into the restoration and admire you tremendously for saving this lovely home.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 6:08PM
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Thank you for your kind words. Where was your family's company located? I understand the method the Sterchi family employed very early on (they bought the land this house was built on in 1845 and passed it down) was to purchase wooded land, cut the trees and make furniture out of the hardwood and then turn the land into very productive farmland. Our house was the 3rd house built on this spot that served as the main house on a 1,500 acre estate. Of course Sterchi Brothers Furniture stores were all over the southeast. I believe there were 76 stores operating when it was sold to a major furniture chain.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2009 at 11:28PM
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