“The new residence of Mr. Stuart Ellis on lower Main [now Caroline] Street has been completed by Mr. Ellis and family and Mr. and Mrs. W.E. Long. It is a handsome modern home.”
—The Daily Star (predecessor to The Free Lance–Star)
Oct. 6, 1919
That was the story of 111 Caroline St. almost 100 years ago, and today, a few owners and a period of some dilapidation later, it is once again a handsome and modern home as it prepares to enter its second century.
When they bought the place in 2001, Janice and Lawrence Toperoff knew they were undertaking a rescue mission. “People wondered if we knew what we were getting ourselves into,” Janice Toperoff said during a recent tour of the property.
The major renovation and expansion that was completed in 2003 provided them with a delightful place to live for the past 16 years. But now, with an eye toward downsizing and fewer steps to climb, the Toperoffs have decided to pass 111 Caroline on to its next steward. They’ve listed it with Janel O’Malley of Coldwell Banker Carriage House Realty in Fredericksburg. The asking price is $759,900.
The home’s lower Caroline Street location gives it a nice view of the Rappahannock River, especially when the leaves are off the trees. The wide, flat flood plain is all that stands between the house and the river.
With its two-story front porch and renewed cedar shake siding, the house is certainly unique and from the street looks much as it did when new. The original owners, the Ellises and the Longs, had torn down a previous house that occupied the lot in order to build a new duplex for their families, according to information compiled by Nichol Forbes for a Historic Fredericksburg Foundation Inc. marker report. The home has side-by-side front doors, one of which is now shuttered over.
Janice Toperoff said the house was still being used as a duplex when the couple bought it. They lived upstairs while the main level was transformed. Later, they rented the upstairs space to individual tenants for a time, and future owners could choose to do the same, or not.
Altogether, the house is listed with three bedrooms, three full bathrooms and a half bath. Total living space is about 3,200 square feet with another 1,000 unfinished square feet in the basement. It sits on a decent-sized city lot of about an eighth of an acre.
The renovation was close to a full gut, providing all new electric, plumbing and a new three-zone HVAC system. Wherever the original, rough-skimmed plaster-on-lathe walls could be saved, they were. Original heart pine flooring was also retained where possible. A substantial single-story addition with basement was built onto the rear of the house. Pocket doors were added here and there to save space. Whole-house sound is controlled by equipment in the basement.
With direct entry to the main level closed off, the front door opens to a foyer with stairs to the upper level straight ahead and french doors to the main level living area on the right.
One step into the main living area and it’s evident that much work has been done to create a bright and inviting space. The living room, or parlor, has its original white-painted brick fireplace, which is set up for gas logs. Low shelving with windows above flank the fireplace, and recessed ceiling lighting has been added.
Nearby is a powder room, which extends into a space that holds the laundry machines.
The living room flows into the family room, which is beautifully appointed and offers a wall of windows for plenty of natural light.
The open floor plan continues into the dining room, which, like other rooms, shows off the well-preserved original wide, flat door and window trim typical of the period. The same look is rekindled today in modern Craftsman-style construction.
Toperoff said the flat trim style, and “cottage Craftsman construction” was replicated in the addition space “as a nod to what was here originally.”
From the dining room, one leaves the original portion of the house and steps into the addition, which on the main level holds the master suite.
Toperoff explained that the rear addition replaced a two-story sleeping porch on the rear of the house, so the actual footprint of the house did not change. The kitchen was built as a new second level atop an existing one-car garage, which was also converted into living space.
The kitchen, which has rear balcony access, is handsomely appointed with white cabinetry, Corian counters, hardwood flooring and stainless steel appliances—except for a white refrigerator. A movable butcher-block island serves double duty as a breakfast table.
The large master bedroom has both a bay window and french door access to the Trex balcony that overlooks the backyard garden. The master bathroom has a dual vanity, reglazed claw-foot tub that may be original to the house, and a separate, glass-enclosed shower. Also in the bathroom is a door to the large walk-in closet.
Completely freshened and remodeled, the upper level retains its role as a self-sufficient living area, though it could easily be configured as the second story of a single-family home. It has a living room, dining room and kitchen, as well as two bedrooms that share a full bathroom.
The portion of the basement beneath the addition is set up as a family room (with pull-out couch for overnight guests). There is a full bathroom and wet bar area. The adjacent former garage is now finished off as a home office. Basement space beneath the original portion of the house was left unfinished but is well-used and includes a workshop, hobby room and storage space.
The basement opens to a paved rear patio with a hanging porch swing and views of the river across the flood plain. Tranquility is found here, along with a raised garden encircled by stacked flagstones. A variety of plants, shrubs and small trees is represented, such as Japanese holly, clematis, hosta, juniper, Japanese maple and crape myrtle. On the sides is privacy fencing.
Also in the backyard is an equipment or potting shed that was also a rescue project, Toperoff said.
“Now it’s on to our next adventure,” she said.