Putting Your House’s Best Face Forward

Putting Your House’s Best Face Forward

Every year, the Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week in Virginia demonstrates the power of “curb appeal” – the term often used to refer to the aesthetics of a property’s exterior. H.J. Holtz & Son understands the importance of that initial impression.

“There’s so much to think about outside,” says company President Rick Holtz. “Shutters, windows, trim, and doors – these are all obvious. But you also have fences, railings, porches, benches, even outbuildings. Sometimes, homeowners don’t consider those elements, because they’re so focused on the inside, but that’s what people see first.”

For 2024’s tour, Holz & Son worked at 4601 Lilac Lane, where on April 23 ticket-holders will be able to tour nearly four acres of garden and farm, tucked inside Richmond’s city limits. The homeowners, longtime Holtz clients, had the company repaint shutters and doors as well as paint the entire pool house. Tour participants on April 25 will be able to see 109 Nottingham Road, which has a fresh, Holtz-painted front door covered in a Fine Paints of Europe coating.

Not everyone has a house that will someday be featured on a Historic Garden Week tour, but an exterior assessment to take stock of what might need a refresh is recommended at least once a year. Outdoor surfaces are subjected to greater wear and tear than indoor spaces, thanks to the effects of sun, wind, precipitation, and even bugs and wildlife. With an in-house carpentry division, Holtz & Son is often able to repair or replace damaged wood, so a separate contractor isn’t necessary. 

“In the past, we’ve rebuilt an entire gazebo, and we regularly fix railing posts and fences,” Holtz says. “Our carpentry team works both on-site and in our new expanded shop, which allows them to manage multiple jobs at a time with greater efficiency.”

To schedule an evaluation of your home’s exterior, call H.J. Holtz & Son, 804-358-4109.

Sponsored by the Garden Club of Virginia, Historic Garden Week dates to 1929, when it began as a way to raise money for historic Kenmore, the Fredericksburg home of Betty Washington Lewis, George Washington’s sister. Funds raised support the ongoing restoration and preservation of Virginia’s historic public gardens and landscapes across the state as well as a research fellowship program in landscape architecture. 

For more information about Historic Garden Week or to purchase tickets, visit https://www.vagardenweek.org/.

Historic Garden Week Comes to Richmond April 23,24,25

Historic Garden Week Comes to Richmond April 23,24,25

The spectacular properties featured during Historic Garden Week have been prepped for a year or more for their time in the spotlight. Participating homeowners know that hundreds of people are eager to see meticulous gardens and plantings as well as pristine interiors filled with floral arrangements created by the state’s garden club members. Nearly every year, H.J. Holtz and Son helps to ensure those spaces look their best by providing interior painting, exterior painting, custom cabinetry, and cabinetry painting. 

“We’re always happy to assist an existing or new client who’s getting their house ready for the tour,” says company president Rick Holtz. “Sometimes, it’s a small project, like painting the front door and shutters, but other times, the homeowner realizes that they want a full interior refresh.”

Timing is everything when it comes to getting ready for a big event, whether it’s Historic Garden Week, or any special event. “We always encourage people to call us as soon as they have a date in mind,” Holtz says. “Our calendar typically fills quickly, but we want to help repeat customers when we can, and sometimes we have an unexpected opening. And we’re diligent to make sure we hit deadlines.” 

Crews have been hard at work for weeks to ensure Holtz client homes are ready for this year’s Richmond dates: Tuesday, April 23, in Windsor Farms-Nottingham; Wednesday, April 24, in River Hill; and Thursday, April 25, in Windsor Farms-Coventry. Visitors will see Holtz handiwork in homes on both the April 23 and 25 tours.

Tuesday, April 23

Windsor Farms – hosting two tours this year – was envisioned in the early 1920s as an upscale residential neighborhood away from the grittiness of the city. Designed in an English garden style popular at the time, the carefully plotted area features many historic homes that have been thoughtfully modernized. 

At 209 Nottingham Road, Holtz & Son team members painted cabinets in advance of Historic Garden Week for a new client. At 4601 Lilac Lane, where only the exterior gardens are open for the tour, the Holtz team did exterior painting on the pool house and main residence shutters and doors.

Thursday, April 25

On this second day in Windsor Farms, visitors will encounter varied architectural styles, including English Tudor, Storybook or Cotswold, and European Revival.

At 4300 Dover Road, Holtz team members painted both the dining and living rooms as well as two interior fireboxes with high heat paint. At 4500 Coventry Road, the team hung new wallpaper in the den and painted several chairs in the shop. Projects at 109 Nottingham Road included painting the front door, crown moldings, windows and trim. Holtz craftspeople also installed wallpaper in both the living room and family room, and painted in those rooms as well. The living room also features a Holtz Built cabinet.

Sponsored by the Garden Club of Virginia, Historic Garden Week dates to 1929, when it began as a way to raise money for historic Kenmore, the Fredericksburg home of Betty Washington Lewis, George Washington’s sister. Since then, the tour has been canceled only twice: once during World War II and in 2020, due to the COVID pandemic. Funds raised support the ongoing restoration and preservation of Virginia’s historic public gardens and landscapes across the state as well as a research fellowship program in landscape architecture. 

For more information about Historic Garden Week or to purchase tickets, visit https://www.vagardenweek.org/.

Fresh Home for New Organ at Cathedral of the Sacred Heart

Fresh Home for New Organ at Cathedral of the Sacred Heart

The H.J. Holtz & Son team believes that every structure, no matter what its use or purpose, deserves to be cared for and painted well. So when officials from Richmond’s Cathedral of the Sacred Heart called with a significant painting and restoration need, it was easy to say “Yes.” 

The company recently repainted theMhistoric church’s choir loft, a commanding space that overlooks the sanctuary below. Soon, a new organ from Canada-based Juget-Sinclair Organbuilders of Montreal  will be installed, and the church wanted the space to be ready.

“We learned a lesson” years ago, after flaking ceiling paint threatened to damage the pipes of another Juget-Sinclair organ at the front of the church, says John Marike, the church’s facilities manager. To remedy that problem, the organ manufacturer added fine wire mesh coverings to the pipe openings.

Seeking to avoid a similar post-installation fix for the new organ at the rear of the sanctuary, church administration hired H.J. Holtz & Son following a competitive bid process. Using a framework constructed by Scaffolding Solutions to reach every inch of the curved ceiling – which peaks 34 feet above the balcony floor – up to five Holtz team members could work at the same time. The team repainted the loft’s plaster walls and ceiling, and also repainted the wood of the choir loft railing, banisters and half the wall paneling.

Selecting colors for the choir loft was a critical element of the job, as they needed to match the remainder of the sanctuary, which will be repainted in the future, Marike says. The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart is more than 100 years old; it’s recognized as a Virginia Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places. With an Italian Renaissance Revival style, the cathedral’s interior is impressively ornate. Its soaring ceiling has many architectural elements for visual interest – rosettes, scrolls, faux mirrors, etc. And there are multiple paint colors, including a shiny faux gold leaf, for added impact. 

“The Holtz team’s attention to detail was great,” Marike says. “The colors were so hard to match, and they really worked hard to get them right.”

Marike credits the team’s determination to stay on schedule, even with interruptions for regular midday church services and funerals that naturally occur without much warning.

“Even with interruptions, they still managed to finish ahead of schedule,” he says.

Next up on the schedule: the new organ!

A Fresh Face for the Historic Bolling Haxall House

A Fresh Face for the Historic Bolling Haxall House

Five years ago, H.J. Holtz & Son team members updated the first-floor interior of the historic Bolling Haxall House, an 1858 Italianate Mansion at the corner of East Franklin and North Third Streets, with fresh wallpaper and paint. Last summer, Holtz & Son was on site again.

This time, the project was bigger – and far more visible.

Following a thorough exterior cleaning from local partner Envirowash, Holtz painters and carpenters repainted the entire stucco exterior, replaced rotted wood, rebuilt balconies, and refurbished windows in the rooftop belvedere, the square cupola at the top of the house.

“So many people drive down East Franklin Street and see this house,” says Leighann Scott Boland, executive director of The Woman’s Club, which calls the Bolling Haxall House home. “For a while now, we’ve been reminded of the Lady Astor quote about Savannah, Georgia: ‘a beautiful woman with a dirty face.’ This house has always been beautiful; now she has a clean face, too.”

The historic Bolling Haxall House welcomes visitors regularly. The Woman’s Club, founded in 1894 to provide educational opportunities for women, meets most weeks from September through April. Additionally, the building hosts special events year-round, including Junior Assembly Cotillion dances, weddings and musical concerts.

“We are looking forward to hosting more events in the near future,” Boland says. “That’s when this house really shines – when it’s full of people.”

Of course, visitors see the outside first. To both improve the home’s aesthetics and fortify structural elements, the Holtz team conducted a full assessment of the exterior, which revealed more rot in woodwork than was expected. Carpentry craftsmen rebuilt railings, balusters, and supports. In the belvedere, which offers 360-degree views of the surrounding city via eight towering windows, the team was also tasked with rebuilding frames and sashes.

“There was more damage up there than we realized,” Boland says.

While the process wasn’t without challenges – a bucket lift brought in to reach the belvedere inadvertently damaged a railing, which was repaired – Boland says the Holtz team made the project as enjoyable as they could.

“I love the guys who were here; they were so respectful,” she says. “They always cleaned up after themselves and found ways to keep working when the weather wasn’t cooperating. They knew we had programs resuming in September and did everything they could to make sure we had a beautiful new facade to share with our members when they returned.”

Passers-by enjoyed the transformation, too. “We would look out the windows and see that people on foot and on bicycles would stop and watch the work; some even took photos,” she says. “And our members were so impressed by the improvements when our programming resumed in the fall.”

The exterior work also garnered attention from industry professionals, as it was named one of four finalists in the “Best Exterior Renovation” category of the Golden Hammer Awards, presented annually by the Historic Richmond Foundation in partnership with Storefront for Community Design. At the awards ceremony held in early November, the Bolling Haxall House Foundation, which maintains the property, The Woman’s Club, and H.J. Holtz and Son were recognized for their efforts to preserve one of downtown Richmond’s most beloved and historic structures.

Though the project didn’t win the top prize – which went to the restoration of Old City Hall – the refurbished exterior of the Bolling Haxall House demonstrates what’s possible when careful craftsmanship is applied to a home in need.

“Everyone at H.J. Holtz & Son was wonderful to work with,” Boland says. “They were quick to respond, professional, and definitely went above and beyond to ensure that our beautiful home is once again one of the shining jewels on East Franklin Street.”



Photos courtesy of Todd Wright

Timing is everything.

The nearly two-year renovation and restoration of UVA’s Carr’s Hill, the Charlottesville home of the president of the University of Virginia, required careful planning and execution, from start to finish. First, there was finding the right time to begin, as few university presidents want to be aligned with expensive residence repairs. Once work got underway, those involved – including a painting team from H.J. Holtz & Son – had to fashion a careful choreography so they could complete interrelated tasks without stepping on each other’s toes.

“It was a monster job,” says Luis Alas, who served as the onsite Holtz team manager. “There were lots of inspections, from the architects to the university. It was really different from working in a regular home, with just a contractor and a client.”

The project began in earnest in late summer 2018, in the transition between outgoing President Teresa A. Sullivan and incoming President James E. Ryan. Carr’s Hill, whose upper floors are private and held for the use of the president and his or her family, hosts thousands of guests on the main level every year through a broad mix of events, including receptions and musical performances. The home was also open for student support in the wake of the Nov. 12 shootings on Grounds (UVa’s term for its campus).

Completed in 1909, the home had not had a significant renovation in roughly 60 years, and it showed, says Allan Pettit, partner with Alexander Nicholson, the Charlottesville building firm managing the project. “There were structural, mechanical, and electrical issues,” he says. “The front and back of the building were separating, the roof needed work … the house needed a lot of repair.”

Pettit says H.J. Holtz & Son painting services were recommended based on the company’s experience with working in older properties.

“A big and difficult undertaking was the stripping of the interior millwork,” Pettit says, noting that much of the original detail had been obscured over the years under layers of paint. “The stripping was one thing Rick and his guys were really talented with. They were delicate and careful; they knew what they were doing.”

Alas says that in many respects, working inside Carr’s Hill was similar to working on historic homes in Richmond. “It’s comparable to a house on Monument Avenue, with tall ceilings and big mouldings,” he says. “We found plenty of damage to the plaster once we sanded and prepped; then their in-house plasterers and mud guys came in to make repairs before we painted.”

With so many trades working simultaneously in one space, to meet the project deadline, the Holtz team got creative. “Luis was instrumental in getting the job done,” Pettit says. “The team came in on weekends and worked off-hours to facilitate the schedule. They were active and willing participants in the project.”

President Ryan and his family moved into the renovated home in early January 2020. On his Instagram, the president posted that he hopes Carr’s Hill will continue to be “a home for the community to enjoy.”

Carr’s Hill will be open Monday, April 17, as part of the Garden Club of Virginia’s 2023 Historic Garden Week. For more information, visit vagardenweek.org.

Special thanks to photographer Todd Wright for sharing his images of Carr’s Hill



Laura Strickler admits that she enjoys being a do-it-yourselfer.

“I’m confident in my own decorating skills, and I like to paint,” she says. “But I knew I couldn’t do all this.”

“All this” refers to the improvements Strickler wanted to complete before April 26, 2022, when her house will be open to the public during Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week. The Rothesay Circle tour is on Tuesday, April 26th.

Strickler says her needs were varied: a refresh on interior walls, repainted kitchen cabinets, and a full exterior paint job – plus accumulated carpentry fixes. Because she had worked with H.J. Holtz & Son on a smaller job years ago, she felt comfortable calling the company again.

“I knew they would do an awesome job,” she says. “I have used a lot of people in the past to do a lot of different things, but I knew Rick [Holtz, company president] could handle something of this magnitude in the timeframe we had.”

A decade ago, Strickler and her husband were ready to leave Richmond’s Fan district but didn’t want to go too far afield. They found a brick Georgian home on Rothesay Circle, tucked behind Windsor Farms and City Stadium. “It’s a big old house in a great spot,” she says.

Over the years, she’s managed smaller tasks herself, though she did bring in the H.J. Holtz & Son team to repair and repaint some plaster. “They did a great job,” she says.”

For this year’s Historic Garden Week, Strickler brought the Holtz team in again for a broader array of tasks: repainting the kitchen and its cabinets, the dining room, the front hallway, and an imposing stairway, as well as exterior painting. “It’s a house with not as much walls as there are windows and moldings and casements,” she says. “There’s a lot of fine detail work.”

Strickler had also noticed the company’s expanding carpentry services division and was thrilled to hand over items that had been languishing on her “to-do” list. “While I didn’t have anything exciting and new, like paneling, I had a laundry list of stuff that had been building up over the years,” she says. Those tasks included replacing several doors dating to the 1930s and fixing plinths of two-story columns at the rear of the house. “[Carpentry division manager] Jeff Nonnemacker facilitated all those tiny projects that have added up to one big carpentry project,” she says. “They’ve done great work.”

While there have been many moving parts, Strickler says work has gone smoothly.

“It’s been nice and seamless,” she says. “They’ve been popping in and out. When they finish a door, I know guys will come to paint it. I don’t have to coordinate six people, and I know they will do a good job.”

Strickler admits the company’s reputation for being more expensive than some other painting companies gave her pause before that first job, years ago. But after she saw the quality of the work the team provided then, she realized the cost reflected the quality of the work and after-care that Holtz & Son offers.

“It’s great to know that down the road, when my shutters look grumpy and my cabinets are scuffed up, I can call H.J. Holtz & Son,” she says. “It’s really nice to have confidence in a solid, respected company that will stand behind the work they do.”

H.J. Holtz & Son also provided Garden Week prep services at 4801 Pocahontas Ave., painting both the exterior and interior spaces. Garden Week ticket holders will be able to visit this home during the Olde Locke Lane and Westmoreland Place tour on Thursday, April 28.