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.”