Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Where We Live: 100-year-old home built by a railroad worker

Not many people would think they could find a charming, 100-year-old home with plenty of land in the city of Newport News. But one does exist, and it’s been well cared for and maintained for the past 40 years.

This 2-acre slice of rural heaven is located just off Yorktown Road in the Lee Hall area of Newport News. The house, built in the early 1900s by a man who worked for Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, has housed a number of families, most recently Sarah and Tom Huddleston’s.

The Huddlestons spent 40 years in the vintage home, raised three children there, completed several renovations and have more memories than you can shake a stick at.

“Every time I come to this house, it’s like a love affair,” said Sarah. “It truly is.”

Early in their marriage, the Huddlestons had an idea of the life they wanted.

“Tom was in veterinary school in Georgia, and we’d ride through the countryside and see all the pretty old farmhouses, and we just said ‘we’re going to do this – one day we will buy and old farm house and fix it up,’” Sarah recalled.

When the Army brought the Huddlestons to Fort Eustis, they settled into a brick rancher in the Denbigh area. While Tom was working at a clinic on base, Sarah was busy raising the family and keeping the dream of buying a farmhouse alive.

Soon, she came across the property off Yorktown Road and called Tom.

“I didn’t even know we were looking at the time,” laughed Tom.

The pair fell in love with the home immediately – despite how “rough” it looked.

“There was no air conditioning and the heat was questionable,” Sarah said. “And of course, the year we bought it, oil went from 50 cents per gallon to one dollar. It was a hot mess.”

When Sarah’s mom, a realtor and broker in North Carolina, came to see the house for the first time, she cried. She couldn’t believe her daughter, who had an 18-month-old and who was about to give birth to her second child wanted to live in a fixer-upper without heat or air.

“Despite how much work needed to be done, we still fell in love with the house,” Tom said.

It took almost six years before the Huddlestons could afford major renovations. In 1984, they moved out for four and a half months while the house was given a makeover – about 1,000 square feet was added, the red oak floors were redone, and updates to the heating and air systems were made, among others.

In 2009, the couple replaced a deck with a covered veranda, installed an English garden and replaced the aging tin roof.

With the attention and love of the Huddleston family, the house grew to almost 3,500 square feet and now includes four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a sun room, wet bar, working fireplaces and an updated kitchen.

Though they made upgrades, the Huddlestons wanted to keep many of the delicate farmhouse features such as the millwork, pocket doors, transom windows and original flooring – the character of the home is what drew them there in the first place.

Over the years, the Huddlestons entertained in the spacious backyard. They recalled hosting the Garden Club of Virginia one year, having bands like local favorite Slapwater play for parties and their kids enjoying the acreage by playing soccer and other sports outside.

“Oh, we had a ball,” Sarah said.

With their children grown and the number of grandchildren growing, Sarah and Tom made the decision to move to Williamsburg and start a new chapter of their lives.

Their hope is that another family purchases the home and creates just as many memories as they did.

For more information about this house, visit the Berkshire Hathaway home listing.


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