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Project Profiles - Restoration

Hearthstone at the Village of Brandywine, DE

The Project:

Transforming a dilapidated historic farmhouse into an attractive Social Hall and centerpiece for a new 55-plus community in Wilmington, DE. This project was a tribute to how well a private/public partnership can work when the participants share a common goal.

The Team:

Premier Builders; Phil Conte, architect, StudioJAED, Greg Lingo of Ryan Homes; Jim Lober of Apex Engineering; Bob Weiner; New Castle County; Rebecca Shepherd from the Center for Historic Architecture and Design at University of Delaware.

Unique Challenges:
  • Coordinating the multiple interests and finding common ground to proceed with development of the Mousley Farm property. Although the historic property had been zoned residential, it had sat empty for many years because its 200-year-old farmhouse had to be restored as a part of the project.
  • Sensitively restoring and refurbishing the existing historical structure, which was built in the late 1700s.
  • Replacing unsafe interior floorboards, which couldn’t be salvaged because of damage from squatters and animals.
  • Reconstructing the porch of the farmhouse, which had collapsed on one side.
  • Designing bathrooms that were ADA-compliant, could withstand a lot of traffic, and were easy to maintain. At the same time, they had to be decoratively in keeping with bathrooms of this time period.
Premier Builders’ Solutions:
  • We worked closely with the client and the Historical Review Board of New Castle County to develop a win-win cost-effective solution.
  • Through our resources, we were able to purchase reclaimed white oak from a 17th century Pennsylvania barn and have it cut into random-width hardwood flooring, which was identical to the floor we had to tear out.
  • Using the remaining detail and trim as stylistic clues, we reconstructed the porch from wood that is more animal- and weather-resistant. For the decking, we chose an easy-to-maintain composite material in an authentic color consistent with the farmhouse’s time period.
  • We installed new energy-efficient windows, but had the glass custom-cut to the original style to maintain the integrity of the farmhouse.
Comments from the Client:

“When this project was underway, I was the division manager for Ryan Homes. The county wanted to retain the historic value of the farmhouse; I chose Premier Builders to accomplish this because of their reputation. Ken and Candace figured out how to design a modern facility that was historically correct. They worked closely and thoroughly to comply with historical codes – on a budget. Their project really enhanced the community because it sits right at the entrance. I would use Premier Builders again for the next project.”

Greg Lingo, President of Cornell Homes