When Kirk Williamson purchased an historic home in Uptown New Orleans a year ago, he wasn't even sure if the structure could be salvaged. After all, the city literally was days away from demolishing it. But the reality of the project didn’t prevent him from taking on the challenge.
“I just couldn’t let 100 years of history get bulldozed,” said Williamson, owner of Chester Development, which specializes in restoring blighted homes to their original character.
Of course, the two weeks following the purchase were nail-biters for Williamson and his business partner, Jose Villeda of JLV Construction. They already had determined the house wasn’t structurally sound, and it had to be cross braced to prevent it from falling over. If that wasn’t enough, thunderstorms and gale force winds gusting up to 70 miles per hour pummeled the region, and all they could do was wait it out and see what remained.
“I was in my house because the storm was that bad and was thinking, ‘Please don’t fall over. Please be there,’" Williamson recalls. “Some plywood got tossed around, but the old house was still standing. She has heart.”
Once the storm passed, the team got to work, gutting and rebuilding the home from top to bottom with a goal of restoring it to its original form.
The finished product is a fully refurbished 3,400 square foot, 5 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom house, complete with one-of-a-kind features, such as hand-built cedar cabinets and custom doors. Perhaps the most notable aspect of the project, however, is the reuse of original materials, which gives the home its rustic feel. From exposed lattice work and beams to the salvaged hardwood floors and staircase, the designs reflects the historic aesthetic.
“We really wanted people to see a piece of history, because that’s what I saw in it,” Williamson notes. “Whoever buys the house will have the ability to own a home that housed generations. The work that we have done will last for at least 100 years and in some small way we played a role in New Orleans’ history.”
While the home maintains much of its original charm, it’s nothing short of modern. Amenities including built-in security and audio systems accessible via iPad, energy efficient features, and a backup generator helped to transform the 100-year-old house into a 21st-century gem.
Click through the slideshow to see how Williamson and Villeda fused old and new to deliver big on this New Orleans rehabilitation.