Wickham House finishes facelift

By Ryan Cornell

Virginia’s fourth oldest town will celebrate one of its oldest homes at a reception Saturday.

The Wickham House, located at the end of Lawyers Row behind the old county courthouse, wrapped up a much-needed restoration of its aging facade this month.

Public records indicate that the house dates back to the 1770s.

The last time work had been done on the historic building was 25 years ago, not long after the late Edward L. “Dick” Wickham bequeathed it to the Woodstock Museum in 1989.

Barbara Kesser, secretary of the museum’s board of directors, said that project focused on restoring the house’s plaster walls, woodwork and 18th century moldings and floors.

“It was a tremendous effort because the house basically had been well-used,” she said.

Although the project was a massive undertaking, a lot can happen to a building in a quarter-century.

Earlier this year, workers cut down two large cherry trees growing in front of the home.

“One of them was so rotten that you could touch the trunk and see it move,” Kesser said. “We had to cut those trees down because they were either going to fall down or fall apart soon.”

As soon as they cut the trees down, they started to notice more and more spots in need of attention.

The museum board hired a painter to apply a fresh coat to the house, and before long all kinds of problems were coming to light, including the squirrels, termites and birds finding shelter within the structure.

“Every little hole possible the critters were getting in,” Kesser said, “so we expanded the project quite a bit.”

The result was a comprehensive restoration project totaling about $11,000 that dealt with the unwanted visitors, resolved the moisture issues plaguing the house and replaced the gutters and and fascia boards.

“So a small paint job kind of exploded into ‘Let’s restore the house a bit,'” she said.

A reception honoring Wickham and celebrating the refurbished home will be held on the property from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. The lawn party will feature refreshments and live music. It is open to the public and free to attend.

The Wickham House still lacks a heating or cooling system, something Kesser said could be installed in a future project.

Donations for the project included Valspar paint from Lowe’s, and painting and restoration work from Joe Stump of Handyman Services.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com