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31 s coalter street after renovation

31 S. Coalter St, Staunton

– Guest Contribution by Morgan Claborn

I have an affinity for old houses, so when Shannon asked me if I wanted to paint the interior of 31 S Coalter St this summer, I was super excited!  I was thrilled at the prospect of being a part of bringing this home back to life. There is something about an old home that just speaks to me. Touches me actually – as I see them as the caretakers of generations past, keepers of history and real, live vestiges of a long-ago tradesman’s handiwork.

the history of 31 s coalter st

Knowing that I would be a part of rehabbing this beautiful home, I wanted to learn more about it. The Historic Staunton Foundation ( was a huge help in providing information about the house and the area it is in.

A late-nineteenth-century Vernacular Frame home, 31 S Coalter St does not appear on Staunton maps before 1886. It did appear on maps in 1891, estimating its construction between 1886-1891.

According to Wikipedia, vernacular architecture is “based on local needs, construction materials and reflecting local traditions.”  It started out by not using formally-schooled architects. Instead, they utilized local builders. I love this house even more knowing that it had a humble beginning.

When surveyed by the historic foundation in 1976, it had corbelled (arched) chimneys, decorated architraves, and an entry door with transom and sidelights. The original transom remains with the home today and is beautiful. Major alterations noted were the addition of the front porch between 1891-1894 with millwork. I believe some of that original millwork remains today and will be replicated to maintain the historic integrity of the home.

gospel hill historic district

31 S Coalter St is located in the Gospel Hill Historic District. It’s a residential neighborhood with great historical and architectural significance. Within the district’s boundaries are the site where Staunton was founded by Sir William Beverley; the birthplace of President Woodrow Wilson; and the homes of many prominent Virginians. Residents whose contributions ran the gamut of local, state, and national levels.

Architecturally, the district represents a diversity of building styles. From sophisticated and elaborate late-nineteenth-century residences, built during Staunton’s “boom years”, to modest, simple vernacular structures.

31 S Coalter St represents one of the modest, simple vernacular structures which are common near the southwest boundaries of the district. The presence of which aids in keeping the district remarkably free of contemporary structures and non-conforming intrusions. Neighborhoods like this are why I love this city!

I can’t wait to hang out in this house over the summer! I truly wish walls could talk. 31 Coalter St will be available for its next life sometime mid-fall 2016.

– Morgan

Heavily active in and around my hometown of Charlottesville, as well as beautiful Historic Staunton/Augusta where I currently reside. I'm a huge fan of the enjoyable transaction, and aim for creating them in all aspects of my life.

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