Couple restore 1915 Washington home

Published 10:37 am Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lifestyles & Features Editor

Woodworking has been a hobby of Jerry Creech since he received his first hammer from his father years ago.
That hobby proved to be handy when Creech and his wife, Sue, set out to restore the historic 1915 Henry Bridgeman home on West Second Street in Washington.
“My dad was a contractor, and I still have that first hammer,” Creech said during a recent tour of the house. “I began getting serious about woodworking about 10 years ago, but it’s always been there because of him.”
The Bridgeman house is filled with evidence of Creech’s talents, including a pencil-post bed, Chippendale chairs, blanket chests and a corner cupboard that houses part of his wife’s extensive collection of antique glassware.
He even honed his skills by attending a class hosted by Hobbs Furniture in Hertford.
But don’t get any ideas about contacting him for commission work; Creech said he only tackles projects for his family.
The couple purchased the Bridgeman house after it had been on the market for about two years. At first glance, it was hard to image the showplace it would become.
But the “bones” were there, and the couple recognized the potential. They purchased the house in April 2007 and began renovations, which included restoring the front hallway to its original appearance. Previous owners had divided the house into apartments, and the hallway became a bathroom in order to make the most of the available space.
The couple researched the property and spoke to as many former owners as possible, planning to restore the historic property to its original beauty. Linoleum was ripped up, paneling came down and shag carpeting ended up in the trash heap.
Working with what they called “loyal and patient” contractors, the couple charged head on into the project. But it wasn’t easy — it wasn’t at all easy.
“Everyday was a different challenge,” Jerry Creech recalled. “We had to rewire, replumb and we took out all the old gas pipe. There were three loads of old, black iron pipe.”
But there were even more daunting issues to address. The couple wanted to not only repair the house, they wanted to restore it.
“The overall challenge was to keep in mind how restoration work would have been done in 1915,” Jerry Creech said. “So, we used the same tools that would have been used a century ago as much as possible — planes, handsaws and bits that were characteristic of the time.”
He matched original cabinets in the kitchen and butler’s pantry and the original sinks remain in the house, as does much of the original flooring. Fireplaces, once closed off for the modern convenience of heaters, were reopened and repaired. Even wood paneling was replicated to match the house’s original interior.
Soon, their labors bore fruit.
Not only did the couple move into the home in February 2009 — when renovations were all but complete — but their planning and hard work paid off in another way.
The Bridgeman House became the latest property to receive a plaque from the Washington Area Historic Foundation, recognizing its place in local history.
For more information on the Bridgeman House, see today’s Pamlico Horizons page.