Historic homeowners get by with a little help from their friends

Published 8:21 pm Thursday, April 26, 2018

With historic home ownership comes responsibility: to renovate in a historically responsible way; to stay true to the era in which the home was built; to keep up with repairs and regulations determining how those repairs and exterior renovations can be done.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.

The music was pumping and the paint was flowing at the East Second Street home of Elle and Brian Reapp last Saturday, as friend and family chipped in to help the young couple scape and paint the exterior of their 118-year-old home.

“We offered beer and pizza, and I think that was the big selling point,” Elle Reapp laughed. “But, really, everybody’s been really helpful through this entire process.”

The process started in November of last year when the couple closed on their new historic home. Reapp’s mother, Colleen Knight and her husband Vann had moved to Washington a couple of years ago, and when Elle and Brian visited, they started considering a move.

“We just kind of fell in love with the community,” Elle Reapp said. “We fell in love with the Turnage (Theatre), the downtown and this whole area.”

SINGULAR WORK: Brian Reapp takes on the home’s western side, scraping generations of paint from the exterior walls to prep for repainting in Sherwin-Williams “Mermaid’s Tale.”

Elle was born and raised in Beaufort, South Carolina; Brian, in the Florida Keys — being near the water again was a huge draw for the couple. The deal was only sweetened by the chance to own a home in Washington’s historic district.

“I’m not a fan of the cookie cutter, the kind of ‘throw-them-up’ houses that are built in two to three weeks. I wanted something with character; I wanted something that kind of had a history,” Elle Reapp said.

They found it in the circa-1900 two-story home that spent at least part of its long history as a beauty parlor. With age, comes the need for repair. The two have been hard at it since the purchase. From a home base of the Knights’ home around the corner on East Main Street, the couple has been paying daily visits to their home in the evenings to paint interior walls, clean, refinish the floors and much more.

As part of their loan, the couple has replaced the AC unit, ductwork — including installing ductwork upstairs where none had previously existed — installing a tankless hot-water heater and appliances, replacing rotted wood on the exterior of the house and reconfiguring a hall to include a closet, in addition to scraping and painting the home’s exterior. A further requirement for the work is that it all must be completed by next month, so the couple is working on a deadline that has been stymied by the difficulty of removing generations of paint.

“It took us a lot longer to scrape the house than we anticipated,” Elle Reapp said. “It’s been a lot more difficult to get the paint off because we do have be so careful because it is lead paint.”

The color to replace it was a compromise: her favorite color is green; his is blue. They chose something in between.

“Honestly, we chose (Sherwin-Williams) Mermaid’s Tale because of the name, but we really like the color,” Elle Reapp laughed.

She said they’ve been pleasantly surprised by so many people’s offers of assistance with loaning them pressure washers and floor sanders, ladders, trailers, and other equipment the couple didn’t already own.

“Everybody’s been really helpful through this entire process,” she said.

Now, it’s on to another big project: renovating the kitchen. She’s planning on a new one by Thanksgiving.

FRIENDS AND FAMILY: Though it’s been in the works for months, the Reapps sped up the process by enlisting the help of family and friends to scrape and paint the house.