The centuries-old Fredericksburg home is being updated with a two story great room, attached guest house, and even an elevator

Growing up in Fredericksburg, Jan Dwyer has always loved the classic look of the Texas Hill Country houses with their limestone walls, large verandas and gable roofs.

At least she loved her on the outside.

What she didn’t like was the “old Victorian” decor she often saw in these houses.

When she bought a rundown, two-story stone house from 1906 just blocks from Main Street, she knew she wanted to combine the old charm of the exterior with a new, mostly modern, interior.

To turn her concept into reality, she hired the restoration architect John Klein together with the designer David Ross and the builder Daniel Jenschke.

The result, she said, “is exactly what I wanted, both modern and comfortable. Something that looks old but isn’t. “

The mix of old and new is best seen from the front foyer, where the visitor is surrounded by centuries-old limestone walls, but can also see the ultra-modern great room at the rear of the original home.

“It’s fantastic the way you did it,” said Dwyer, a retired manager of a commercial title company. “You get a feeling for old and new as soon as you enter the house.

When Jenschke, a local builder, saw the house for the first time, it had been empty for about 10 years and was a mess. The exterior walls of the first floor were long ago covered in cement slurry that had to be chiseled off to reveal the beautiful, faceted limestone blocks below. Inside, the stone was also covered in plaster of paris and wood paneling from the Brady Bunch era. And upstairs, the porch, which was part of a 1930s second-floor addition, was all but rotten.

In addition to the renovation of the historical part of the old house, Klein’s plan also envisaged a modern addition to the back of the wedding. This included the addition of a modern great room, new kitchen, attached two story guest house, as well as a back yard porch and swimming pool.

When the work was completed, the extended house had four bedrooms and 4½ baths.

From the foyer there is a formal dining room on the right and a small drawing room and study on the left. After widening the narrow, 3.5 meter high doors that led to both, the entrance looked surprisingly light and airy, despite the imposing limestone walls that were also exposed during the renovation.

The new oak parquet also harmonizes well with the original 31.5 meter high beadboard ceiling that Jenschke’s crew was able to save.

At the back of the house and in the two-story great room, the oak floor is being replaced with poured and sealed concrete.

“It’s a very popular look here in Hill Country these days,” says Jenschke. “It’s easy to keep clean and doesn’t cost much more than most other floor coverings.”

The room’s penny-gap ceiling adds a modern twist to the beadboard at the front of the house, and the large, gas-fired fireplace dominates the room with dark ceramic tiles that are 5.5 meters high.

There are also plenty of windows to keep in sun all day, including a wall of glass doors that open to the covered seating area on the terrace.

Dwyer wanted an unobstructed view of the terrace and the pool beyond, so Klein designed a cantilever that should shade the seating area without support posts.

“And it’s amazing how the back doors open all the way,” said Dwyer, who has three grown children. “I can use it to entertain family and friends and it’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of.”

The kitchen that adjoins the large room is completely new, built from a former bedroom in the historic part of the house.

The stained wood cabinets on one side of the room contrast nicely with the cream colored cabinets on the other. A barn door slides open to reveal a large pantry.

The center island has an overhang on one side to increase seating comfort. A modern, round pendant lamp stands above it. The same style of lighting appears in several bathrooms in the house.

From the great room an open staircase winds around the elevator shaft that was added during the renovation.

“Jan is originally from Fredericksburg and is retired here,” said Jenschke. “She wanted the elevator as a convenience.”

On the second floor there are two bedrooms, including the master suite, which has been completely modernized, including a tiled, free-standing shower, bathtub, quartz worktops, a walk-in closet and completely new fittings.

“We took a large part of this area up to the stud farms so that we could rearrange some of the rooms up here,” said Jenschke.

The second floor porch was in such poor condition that it needed a complete renovation. The handrail spindles, for example, have been thoroughly rotten.

“We got the original sample and had new samples made that correspond to what was here,” said Jenschke.

They also replaced the rotten pine floor with composite that was supposed to last for years, and painted the ceiling a sea foam green, which they researched was the original color.

“Whenever possible, John Klein was happy to restore it to its original state,” says Jenschke.

Klein, co-founder of Stehling Klein Thomas Architects from Fredericksburg, died at the beginning of the year.

Back on the ground floor, a short walkway leads from one corner of the great room to a 1,500 square foot two story guest house with two bedrooms and bathrooms, a powder room, laundry room, and small kitchenette.

“It’s connected to the main house, but separated so that everyone can have their own space when people come to stay,” said Dwyer.

A wide veranda runs the length of the guest house and overlooks the pool in the back yard. There is a spiral staircase at the other end so guests can come and go without having to go through the main house.

The house hides an interesting secret: a cellar built by the original owners as a root cellar, which today serves as a wine cellar with four coolers for the family’s Texan wine collection. In contrast to the rest of the house, the underground room has a ceiling made of reclaimed wood that is only two meters high.

While it causes claustrophobia, it’s also another way to successfully connect the house with the new.

[email protected] | Twitter: @RichardMarini


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