There's reason to celebrate whenever a historic home is saved from the wrecking ball or the ravages of time. After all, as a venerable sage once said, "Old homes cast long shadows." Unfortunately, it's only after these structures are gone, and their shadows fade from our surroundings, that we truly feel the loss. Such was the seemingly inevitable plight of Mount Ida Plantation. But that's just the beginning of the story.
Built in 1795 in Buckingham County, Virginia, Mount Ida held the reputation as one of the South's finest late-Georgian style homes. Set on a hill overlooking the James River, the house was enlarged around 1850. This addition gave balance and near symmetry to its imposing front facade of whitewashed clapboard siding and stately Doric porch columns.
Though listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register in 1986, and later on the National Register of Historic Places, the house fell on hard times. By 1995, Mount Ida sat abandoned and dilapidated. All seemed lost until a Charlottesville businessman took on the cause.
Moved and Improved
Assembling a dream team that consisted of Frazier Associates Architects--including Bill Frazier and Kathleen Frazier--from Staunton, Virginia, supported by architect for interior details Candace Smith and renowned restoration architect and friend Floyd Johnson (now deceased), the new homeowner quickly established his goals. The group of professionals was entrusted to preserve the house as exactly as possible, while retaining its integrity and creating a fully livable home. The owner commissioned Floyd and Candace to design a sympathetic addition with an updated kitchen and modern amenities.
The most ambitious part of the plan hinged on one major problem. Mount Ida was to be dismantled and moved 50 miles to a farm just outside of Charlottesville. In an unprecedented decision, the Department of Historic Resources agreed that if the relocation and preservation proved successful, the house's historic registry would be reinstated. Thus began an exhaustive process by Frazier Associates of documenting the house with drawings, photography, and other records. "Without Kathleen, Bill, and their staff's expertise and contact with the Department of Historic Resources, we couldn't have accomplished this feat," says the owner.
Now located at the end of a scenic, meandering drive, Mount Ida lives again to shelter a new family.
Why it Won
"Acknowledging Mount Ida in this manner serves as a standing ovation to the homeowners for being such responsible and conscientious stewards of this notable property." Cynthia Stewart, AIA, ASID
"To not only have dismantled and moved a historic house, but also to have regained historic registry status is an absolute triumph!" Philip Morris, former Southern Progress Corporation Editor-at-Large