Saturday, December 2, 2023

Where We Live: Historic landmark home in Charles City

For decades, a brick house at the very end of Eagles Nest Road in Charles City County sat vacant and dilapidated.

With no visible neighbors, the structure was easily forgotten about and was slowly being taken over by weeds and damaged by squatters.

In the 1970s, it was close to being bulldozed when preservationists defended its historical importance.

By looking at building techniques, researchers estimated construction of the home likely started in the late 17th century and possibly completed in the early-to-mid 18th century.

The English bond brick masonry suggests the earlier construction, while a center passageway is indicative of a later design.

The home’s ownership was just as ambiguous.

Records indicate the land belonged to William Armiger, who came to Virginia in 1651 as an indentured servant. Next, records show that William Tyree acquired the “brick house tract” in 1729.

In 1782, when Charles City County’s land tax records began, John Lamb was listed as owner. This history led to the naming of the home as the Armiger-Tyree-Lamb House, though now it is simply called the “Eagle’s Nest.”

Eventually the house would be acquired by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities – now known as Preservation Virginia – with the intention of selling it to someone who would maintain its authenticity.

Enter the Wood family.

In 1981, Realtor Tom Wood took a client out to view the property. The client didn’t want to take on the restoration project, but it turned out that Wood did.

“He immediately fell in love with the property,” said his son Wheeler Wood, who currently owns the house.

Tom Wood and his wife Gillie bought the home in 1981 and began restoring it in 1982.

“We were living in Williamsburg at the time, and my mother said she’d only move out there if there if we added a pool or a tennis court,” laughed Wheeler Wood. “We figured a pool would get more use.”

The plan was to restore the original structure and add on a new, updated living space. Every change and modification required approval from Preservation Virginia.

Wheeler Wood said his dad would spend weekends and evenings working on restoring the original portion, even bringing in craftsmen from Colonial Williamsburg to help. Because it sat vacant for so long, the walls had to be taken down to the studs and rebuilt. His father painstakingly sought out period windows and flooring and was diligent in keeping with the home’s original character, but still allowing for modern conveniences.

For instance, the oversized fireplace in the living room very much looks authentic to the time, but has been converted to gas.

During the restoration, the Wood family and workers came across many items, including pieces of Delft pottery, pipe stems, hooks and hinges and a silver spoon with the letter “L” on it complete with the mark of the Virginia Colony silversmith.

“My parents kept a lot of things they found, either in jars or containers in the house,” Wheeler Wood said.

The new addition blends in nicely with the historic side and features a first-floor master bedroom and bathroom, kitchen and family room. Triple windows allow for beautiful views of the river and cathedral ceilings and a large barrel-shaped skylight give an open and airy feel.

Gillie Wood did get her pool, too, complete with a pool house for storage.

Wheeler Wood bought the home from his parents in 2004.

“It was very important to us to keep it in the family,” he said.

More on this home, here

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