When Ed and Carolyn Tennstedt bought the Victorian/Italianate home at 309 Caroline St. in 2010, they knew they had a challenge ahead of them. They wanted to update and strategically reconfigure the house, but they didn’t want to compromise the historical integrity of the 1890 structure.
Eight years later, the house and the entire property have become a comfortable and versatile homestead that’s ready to welcome a couple or small family. It offers all the attributes of a modern home, but it still feels like late 19th century Fredericksburg through and through.
“We waited eight months to move in while the restoration was done,” Carolyn Tennstedt said during a tour of the property earlier this week. “There was even some old knob and tube electric in here.”
Though they’ve thoroughly enjoyed their time at 309 Caroline St., they have decided it’s time to move on. Ed Tennstedt, an agent with Long & Foster Real Estate in Fredericksburg, is listing the property himself. The asking price is $795,000.
The house is listed with two bedrooms, one full bathroom and a half-bath. It has nearly 2,400 square feet of living space and sits on a generous fifth-acre lot at the corner of Caroline and Frederick streets, near the Fredericksburg train station.
Though the Tennstedts delayed moving in for eight months while major renovations were underway, their work on the house continued well into the the early years of their ownership.
Some of the work they have done or had done includes:
- All new and replicated interior door, window and fireplace trim done in an elegant early-American style.
- Reconfigured the upstairs to convert a former “trunk room” into a walk-in closet for the master bedroom.
- All new electrical, plumbing and central air conditioning and heating systems were installed. Duct work was cleverly kept out of sight in the attic, basement and crawl space. Radiators that were space-consuming and often in the way were removed.
- The kitchen, which had been previously extended to add space and include a pantry/laundry room, was completely redone with a “down-to-the-studs” renovation.
- A new potting shed was built next to the three-car garage in the back yard.
- The backyard was redesigned with a bluestone patio, raised beds and new landscaping. The old bricks taken up from the earlier garden walkways were refashioned into a brick wall.
Visitors are greeted by brick walkways and a welcoming front porch. The Italianate soffit brackets, dentil molding and green standing-seam metal roof give the house its Victorian style and a large helping of curb appeal.
The cream-yellow pine German shiplap siding looks perfect and is, remarkably, original. It didn’t hurt that the exterior was protected for many years while it was covered by other siding. The pine shiplap was replicated to provide matching siding for the garage.
A transom and sidelights at the main entry help brighten the foyer. Both the main and upper levels have 10-foot ceilings. The original heart pine floors on the main level are believed to have been covered or replaced with hardwood in the 1950s. Many of the walls are the original plaster
To the right of the foyer is the living room and behind it is the dining room. Both have crown molding, chandeliers hanging from ceiling medallions and brick fireplaces with custom-made wood mantels.
Adjacent to the dining room, in a two-story addition said to have been built in the 1930s, is a room that serves as a home office or den.
Along the foyer hallway toward the kitchen is a half-bath, nicely updated with a granite-topped vanity.
The eat-in kitchen is a large and welcoming gathering spot. At the center is an island covered with a 10-foot slab of marble with an undermount bar sink built in. Stainless steel appliances include a Thermador commercial range with hood. Counters are Virginia soapstone, and backspashes are white subway tile.
There’s space for a table and chairs for casual meals as well as a separate sitting area. The flooring looks like rich wood parquet but is actually ceramic tile made to look like wood.
The stairs and upper level flooring are the original pine. Upstairs is the master suite and a second bedroom that shares the master bath, which features dual granite vanities, a large glass and tile shower, and a marble tile floor.
Crown molding was added in the upstairs rooms along with refreshed door and window frame trim.
“It cost a lot for all the millwork, but we wanted to keep it consistent,” Carolyn Tennstedt said.
A small basement with utilities and a bit of storage space is accessible via an opening in a back porch floor. Though moisture hasn’t been an issue, the Tennstedts added a sump pump just in case.
The rear patio and landscaping make good use of the backyard space. The potting shed, garage and back end of the house combine to make the most of the lot, which is large by city standards.
A BIT OF HISTORY
A history of the house was compiled in 1998 by historic preservation students at then-Mary Washington College. They presented their work in the form of a nomination for placement of the property on the National Register of Historic Places, though the status apparently was never officially applied for.
Immediately prior to the Tennstedts, the house was owned by Joe and Mary Wilson, who in 2001 had a marker study prepared by Historic Fredericksburg Foundation Inc. The report was researched by LeRoy F. Busa.
The land on which the house was built was part of a large land grant awarded to Thomas Royston and John Buckner in 1671. The land was sold and resold, then subdivided by developer Roger Dixon, after whom Dixon Street is named, in the 1700s.
Shortly before the house was built in 1890, the land was owned for a time by a gentleman named Washington Post Sr. and sold by the executor of his estate, Washington Post Jr.
Though the actual builder of the house is unknown, it was built for Mary Fannie Lang, a Fredericksburg native and school teacher. Arthur Smith and his descendants held or shared ownership of the property for the longest period, from 1939 until the early 1980s.
After the Wilsons bought the house in 1997, they undertook a renovation that included the removal of the blue asbestos siding and the restoration of the pine shiplap. They also took down the deteriorating original three-bay garage that dated to the early 1900s and replaced it with the existing structure.