Home: 30 Years in the Making

Published 3:40 pm Saturday, March 18, 2023

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By Clark Curtis for the Washington Daily News

It was thirty years ago that Carroll and Edith Jenkins purchased their home at 412  East Main St. The Queen Anne Victorian with the only Box Tower in Beaufort County, was built in 1893 by Carmer Cordon, who is believed to have been with the Metropolitan Opera. “The home was actually built in McNair Town, which was only one block from the city limits of Washington, but considered out in the country,” Carroll said with a grin. 

Carroll worked at then Texas Gulf as a systems analyst and Edith, a Duke Seminary graduate, was a Methodist minister serving churches in the area which couldn’t afford ministers. Both were captivated by the Cordon home. Edith grew up in a three story Victorian in Hyde County. And at a young age Carroll and his family lived in a home in Richmond, Virginia, which was built by Dr. Hunter McGuire, the former physician of General Stonewall Jackson. “To this day I can remember the huge sweeping staircase and the curved wall around it,” said Carroll. “Because of our upbringings and where we lived, the Cordon house was the type of home we were looking for, as it had a lot of unique character and style. Every room had a front facing windows, which in the day probably looked right out at the river.”

The abandoned home was in need of a lot of work. It was quite rundown and there was a lot of termite damage. It was also known as a haunted house. “We pulled off some of the old sheetrock in the entry way and underneath it looked as if everyone from town had written messages on the wall,” said Carroll. “All of them said things like Joan and Clair were here. We also soon discovered that we had bats and lots of them. One night I remember seeing 300 fly out before I stopped counting.”

But despite the bats and it being a “haunted house” the Jenkins persevered. They lived in the home for over 25 years doing the necessary repairs as need. Three years ago, they decided it was time for a complete rehab. They moved into their home next door after their tenants moved out. “After I retired I decided we needed to to it right,” said Carroll. “We have done everything we can to preserve the original home. If it can’t be restored we make every effort to replace things with historic replicas of the time.”

They have preserved as much of the original wood flooring as possible, and Carroll himself restored the double sashed windows so that they are once gain totally functional with ropes and weights. The beautiful handcrafted wooden archway remains intact, as well as the elegant wooden staircase that makes it way to the second floor. And the fireplaces throughout have been restored and as you enter each room you feel as if you’re stepping back in time. “I’ve also refurbished and de-rusted all of the rim original rim locks, as well as the chandeliers,” said Carroll. “I’ve also ordered vintage cast iron spring locks for the front doors. And in both bathrooms I used some of the ceiling wood from the original outdoor kitchen to build cabinets for the sinks.”

Throughout the process, the Jenkins have also been collecting unique period pieces of furniture that will be meticulously placed throughout the home. “I have purchased an old victrola, a grandfathers clock, and even a 1910 3-D arcade machine that rapidly flips through 15 cards, for just a penny,” grinned Carroll.  “And that’s just a sampling of what we have been collecting. We are trying to decorate the home with as many period pieces as possible in the front of the home and leave the modern stuff in the back.”

With fingers crossed, the Jenkins are hopeful that they will be in their “new home” in the next month or so.