One of the oldest houses still standing in Bon Air is looking for its next caretaker after a years-long restoration.
The Victorian-style home at 8614 Rockaway Road, which dates to the 1880s, recently hit the market with an asking price of $899,000. Expanded to 4,000 square feet, the house sits just off Buford Road, next to the Old Bon Air Hotel Apartments building, an equally old annex of the Bon Air Hotel that once stood nearby.
Owner Jim Courtney bought the home in foreclosure for around $220,000 in 2015 and is looking to sell the property after completing a seven-year restoration that returned the modified structure to its original appearance.
With the help of friends and neighbors, but largely on his own, Courtney restored the home’s interiors with period details and built a rear addition. From the outside, the expansion looks like part of the original structure that had been moved to become part of another neighboring house.
Courtney said he was selling because he needed a place with more land, but was willing to keep the house if she couldn’t find the right buyer.
“I restore and race old vintage cars, and I want to build a store,” he said. “If we don’t sell it, it doesn’t matter. I could build a shop here. It just wouldn’t be exactly what I wanted. I don’t want to put so much back here that it detracts from the aesthetic appeal of the neighborhood.
The house is one of the few to have had the Chesterfield neighborhood rolling. Built in the early 1880s, it was a summer residence for James Blythe Moore, a Richmond businessman who helped form the Bon Air Land and Improvement Co. of Virginia, which set out to establish a resort near Richmond.
“We don’t know if it’s the oldest or the second oldest house in Bon Air,” Courtney said. “He had a house in Church Hill; it was his summer house. At the time, where the tennis courts were, there was a train station, and they took the train from Church Hill here.
Courtney, who is active with the Bon Air Historical Society and helps organize the annual Victorian Day Festival parade, had previously restored two other homes, including one on McDonough Street in Woodland Heights in Richmond. Deputy Fire Chief Henrico County, he said he’s always had an affinity for history.
“I drive old vintage cars, my family owns an old plantation on the Mattaponi River that we’ve owned since the Revolutionary War, so I’ve always liked old things,” he said.
Laughing, he added, “Old stuff that I can’t afford.”
Courtney said he invested several hundred thousand dollars in the restoration. He built the addition with Bill Stotesberry, known as “Carpenter Bill”, who helped out before he died of cancer three years ago.
A neighbor, Darrell Basinger, created railings for the addition, and local roofer Scott Myers took care of the roof ironwork. The reclaimed pine for the floors is from ET Moore Manufacturing.
With items purchased primarily from Caravati, Courtney restored the main house with period details, many salvaged from demolished buildings in Richmond. He said the bricks were from a demolished 1600s church in Church Hill, while some of the doors were from the demolished Cary Street mansion which housed Marymount School for Girls.
The wood siding was specially milled and cut by hand, and Courtney constructed the pulley-and-mitered casement windows that feature hand-blown glass to match the main windows of the house. The addition even features period-appropriate lightning rods.
Blending old and new, Courtney incorporated modern amenities such as central air conditioning and heating, and gutted and updated the kitchen, which includes a farmhouse sink imported from England. The new construction addition feels novel, though the added bedrooms and bathrooms include their own 19th-century era features, such as inch-thick pieces of slate used for floors bathrooms.
The three-story addition is not a replica of the old structure, as Courtney raised each level an additional two feet to create 10-foot ceilings. Nevertheless, the exterior of the addition closely resembles the part of the house as seen in old photos.
With the addition, the home now totals seven bedrooms and 3½ bathrooms. The main house features heartfelt pine flooring, floor-to-ceiling windows, four fireplaces and a wrap-around porch, along with details such as transom window operators and a curved wooden railing running the length of the main house. three-level staircase.
The addition features a master suite on the first floor and a game room on the top floor. Separated from the main house by an enclosed breezeway, the addition lends itself to use as a guest house but is part of the overall structure.
Courtney listed the house with James Strum and Lee Hutchinson with Long & Foster’s Strum Group. Childhood friends, Strum and Hutchinson grew up in Bon Air, and Hutchinson and Courtney have bonded in recent years.
“I grew up here and have walked past this house my whole life, so it means a lot to us to have this list,” Hutchinson said. “I was blessed to meet Jim and become friends with him, and he’s done such a phenomenal job historically restoring it. It means a lot to us to be a part of this.
Since listing the home on May 12 and relisting on June 2 with updated information, Hutchinson said it received initial interest in the home and had its first showing over the weekend.
With her third home under her belt, Courtney said this would be her last.
“I won’t do another one, or I’ll pay someone to do it,” he said dryly. “I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another old house, but I would probably try to find someone to help me.
“It got a little suffocating, because I wanted to do it, but I was tired and wanted to do other things. And when you’re in the middle of that, it’s so consuming.
If he could start all over again, Courtney said: ‘I might have built a garage instead of the guest house. But I learned from my home on McDonough Street that it’s not the garage that sells a house or makes it valuable; they are bathrooms, bedrooms.
“And historically, I wanted to bring it back,” he said. “It’s just that once I built this, it was kind of like, ‘Oh, well, there’s not much room left for my garage.'”