|The William Lightfoot House, constructed before 1782, Williamsburg, Virginia. (This photo and the next two are from Colonial Houses: The Historic Homes of Williamsburg by Hugh Howard.)|
|View from other side. This is a good view of the details of the front with its Mansard roof.|
|Floor plan of the house, more or less present day, but with the structure (size, interior walls, fireplaces, etc.) of the original, to the best of my knowledge.)|
A step back in time (Fall 2008):
Back in the fall of 2008, I was in a funk because the dollhouse I wanted to buy from DHE was no longer being made and the RGT one that I could have used as a substitute (with modifications) was too expensive. It was to be a glorious Edwardian. It wasn’t as if we didn’t have houses to finish, it’s just that I like to be thinking of the next project, be it however far down the road. Thinking about the next house is always relaxing – no pressure to start it; no pressure to finish it--just something to think about while watching the grass grow.
While I was in this “bad mood”, I decided to re-read Colonial Houses: The Historic Homes of Williamsburg (by Hugh Howard and published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. in 2004) as therapy. (I love the houses and gardens of Colonial Williamsburg.) All of a sudden, on page 107, my eyes rested upon the most delightful little colonial -- the William Lightfoot House (constructed before 1782) on Duke of Gloucester Street. This house was nothing like the Edwardian that I had wanted to contemplate, but I was charmed! To heck with dollhouse manufacturers and their whims, I would just scratch-build. I discussed this with my family and they immediately wondered where we would put this house--but for the moment we didn’t need a spot since this was a house for planning and daydreaming!
The build of this house will follow our usual: my husband cuts the wood (the woodworker’s shop also offered to cut some of the wood), I build, and my sister furnishes.
The design and floor plan of the William Lightfoot house was used as the model. I will take the spirit of the house but make some changes as my whimsy takes me. I wanted to keep the house small and I thought I could keep the footprint at 24” wide by 28” deep but the kitchen addition required a “bump-out” to have a proper size. I didn’t like this look, so the house grew to 28” x 28”. Besides the photos from the book, I have actual plans and historic references to the house from various Virginia archives and the Library of Congress.
The house will open front and back for the main floor, and the Mansard roof will flip up. I am considering a two-door opening front: one from the left edge to the hall wall and the other from there to the right edge. I still have a lot of thinking to do for how the house will open on the main floor since there are porches front and back
The house is being built from 3/8” Baltic Birch plywood. The house is two rooms deep. The outside will look as close to the William Lightfoot house as possible. MDF clapboard siding (from HBS) will be used on the exterior and the roof will be wood shakes. I will build the corner fireplaces, or I may buy them from Jim Coates on eBay. (I love his fireplaces). I will buy standard “pinned” doors and change them to hinged doors. The ground floor windows have been purchased from the Dolls’ House Emporium and are 6/6 wooden, working windows. I had wanted to use Timberbrook 6/6 wooden working windows in the attic, but the company seems to be no longer--too bad, the company made great products. Since the roof is a Mansard, I will build my own dormers; I think that this is easier than trying to modify the size and slope of the standard commercial 45 degree dormers. I had to do that once before for Hawthorne’s Rare Books bookshop, and was doable but tricky
Fast forward to the present (December 2011):
I have been following a numbers of builds of houses this year and I am thinking of a build also. I have much to do yet on a number of my houses but…so I have pulled out my project notes (transcribed above) for William Lightfoot. Since this house is in private hands, I am calling mine the Abner Raleigh House and it will be, as all my houses are, set in the present, and as a renovated ca. 1792 house.
Shortly, I will post some more pictures.
A couple of years ago, my sister surprised me with a RGT Foxhall Manor so that at some point in time I could have my Edwardian! It is lying flat in its boxes under the guest room bed until its time comes.