Photo courtesy of Todd Wright
The homes presented in the Garden Club of Virginia’s 2023 Historic Garden Week share many characteristics: they have elegant spaces, they have carefully designed plantings, and they are impeccably maintained, inside and out.
H.J. Holtz & Son is proud to have helped numerous homeowners through the years – including two on this year’s tour – prepare their homes for the hundreds of HGW ticket-holders who come every spring to see not only their gardens, but also their homes. Holtz craftsmanship will also be on display this year in Charlottesville at Carr’s Hill, the residence of the president of the University of Virginia.
“We know our clients want to show their homes at their best every day,” says company president Rick Holtz. “Garden Week takes that up a notch, because these are public tours.”
The origins of Historic Garden Week date to 1927, when the Garden Club of Virginia hosted a flower show to raise money to save trees planted by Thomas Jefferson at his mountaintop home of Monticello. That first effort netted $7,000 – the equivalent to roughly $117,000 today. In 1928, the club raised money to help save Kenmore, the Fredericksburg-area home of Betty Washington Lewis, George Washington’s sister. In 1929, multiple houses and gardens were opened for a “pilgrimage,” with ticket prices going to fund restorations of historic properties and gardens throughout the state. This year’s Garden Week comprises 29 tours organized and hosted by members of clubs from Virginia Beach to Roanoke, from Martinsville to Middleburg.
Richmond, as in years past, has three tour days: April 18, 19, and 20. Tuesday’s tour, in the Westhampton neighborhood, includes 6407 Roselawn, where the Holtz team has assisted with painting and carpentry work. Thursday’s tour, along Three Chopt Road, includes 6207 Three Chopt, another property where Holtz craftspeople have completed projects.
Company president Holtz says he’s always pleased when a client reaches out for assistance prior to Garden Week. “It’s usually someone we’ve worked with in the past, who knows we can come in for touch-ups,” he says. “Sometimes, people will use the fact that their home is going to be on tour as a reason to do a project they’ve been putting off, like painting exterior trim or shutters, or the front door. Everyone wants their home to look good as people are walking up to the entrance.”
It’s common for homeowners to think about improvements prior to big life events, such as a wedding, graduation, retirement party, or the birth of a child. Rick Holtz advises those considering fresh painting or wall coverings as well as carpentry repair – which is managed by the in-house Holtz carpenters – to reach out well in advance of the special occasion, so there’s ample time to complete the project.
“You don’t want to rush into making decisions about color or décor,” he notes. “From our years in business, we know that a selected paint color, once it’s on the wall, may appear to be a different hue, based on the way the light is hitting it. We all want time to make sure that the final project is done to everyone’s satisfaction.”
For more information about the 2023 Historic Garden Week, visit vagardenweek.org. Tickets are $50 per day if purchased in advance; $60 per day at the tour headquarters.
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