Based on its trajectory, the cannonball was fired by Fredericksburg’s Confederate defenders, aimed at the Union troops who had crossed the Rappahannock from Stafford in December 1862 and would soon be engaged in the bloody Battle of Fredericksburg.
But this particular cannonball went no farther than 405 Hanover St., crashing through the brick home’s west wall and becoming lodged in the plaster of the eastern interior wall above the main stairway.
And there it has stayed for 157 years, a protruding reminder of a period that left much of Fredericksburg in ruins, but from which the city resolutely recovered.
Today, the home known as the “Missionary House” is looking good as ever, it’s beige-painted brick, white trim and dark green shutters helping it stand out among the historic collection of homes along the 400 block of Hanover Street.
And after being occupied by generations of the same family, 405 Hanover has been placed on the market by owners Paul and Sarah McIntosh. They’ve listed it with A.J. and Lauren Johnson of 1st Choice Better Homes & Land in Fredericksburg. The asking price is $725,000.
The house has 2,274 square feet of living space on two levels, plus an unfinished basement with 900 square feet. There are three bedrooms and two full bathrooms, one on each of the two upper levels.
The main, original portion of the house was built in 1821 by early Fredericksburg developer Daniel Grinnan Jr., one of the key players in the growing city during the antebellum period.
But you don’t have to go back that far to find some interesting, more recent history. The last previous owners of 405 Hanover were Gaynelle Chewning and her late husband, Jeffrey Chewning. Now Gaynelle Scott, she lives across the street at 404 Hanover with husband Courtney Scott.
In 2010, Gaynelle Scott sold 405 Hanover to the McIntoshes, half of whom is her daughter Sarah. Sarah had first lived at 405 at age 7, when her parents bought the house in 1986.
In their current configuration of the bedrooms at 405 Hanover, the McIntoshes ended up using Sarah’s childhood bedroom as their master bedroom.
“She’s still in the same room she slept in as a kid,” husband Paul said of wife Sarah during a recent tour of the house.
In 1985, Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc. gathered information about the house for its marker program, and the house has one of the oval HFFI plaques symbolizing that. The report details the history of the house and was compiled by John Janney Johnson.
Also in HFFI’s file on 405 Hanover are two handwritten pages of “Architectural Notes,” but they are unsigned and unattributed. The notes describe the house as a “Federal Style brick residence of Flemish bond in front wall and Early American bond in side and rear walls (three courses of stretchers to one of headers).”
The notes also reference the original slate roof, which remains in place, and the “unusual” placement of the chimneys, “one in the West wall and one in the North wall (rear).
Sometime between 1880 and 1890, according to the notes, the rear, single story brick addition was built. It includes the kitchen, dining room, bathroom and laundry room. The kitchen has been remodeled with stainless steel appliances, new countertops and cabinetry.
The notes also indicate that the covered front porch and rear porch, which is now screened-in, were added sometime between 1900 and 1920. The porches are covered with standing-seam metal roofs. The Ionic, rather than plain, porch columns corroborate the porch’s more recent construction.
Visitors enter through the large and welcoming foyer. The staircase to the right has its “early, plain hand railing” and there’s the 12-pound cannonball protruding from the upper staircase wall. The 16-pane front door with eight-pane transom above is original and has its original hardware, as are the other interior doors and their hardware.
Here and throughout the house are the original hardwood floors and plaster-on-lathing walls, as well as some decorative moldings that the notes suggest date to the 1850s.
To the left of the foyer is the front parlor, and behind it, separated by substantial pocket doors, is the rear parlor, which has one of the home’s three fireplaces and built-in shelving. The foot-deep recesses in the parlor windows show the impressive thickness of the brick walls. The front parlor is being used by the McIntoshes as a main-level bedroom.
Directly behind the foyer is the nicely appointed family room, also with a fireplace, which like the others has a carved wood mantel and brick surround.
Upstairs, the three bedrooms share an updated bathroom with pedestal sink and tile floor. A small fourth room has been used as a den or office and has a door that opens onto the roof of the rear addition.
The unfinished basement is largely storage and utility space, though part of it could be configured as a recreation area. A “secret passage” leads to outdoor access. The open ceiling provides a look at early 19th-century construction methods, including the massive, 12-inch square beam that has borne the load for nearly 200 years and helped keep the house solid and the walls from sagging.
The house is warmed by hot water radiator heat, and cooled by a retrofitted central air conditioning system.
The fifth-acre lot provides a nice -sized yard for an older downtown property. It is backed by one of the city’s alleys, which provides access to the detached three-car garage at the rear of the property. It’s unclear when the garage was constructed, but it was built using “rock face” block, a decorative style block that was popular in the early to mid-20th century.