This is a rural, river-front family farmstead, nestled between Cacapon Mountain and Cacapon River. The mountain is quite steep, but the land between the house and the river is fairly flat and is used primarily as pasture.
This property is located between Cacapon Mountain and Cacapon River. Cacapon River Road (Route 14) runs at the base of the mountain, and the house and pastures are downhill across the road toward the river. A dry laid stone retaining wall separates the shallow U-shaped driveway from the front yard.
Standing in front of the house facing it, there are mountains at your back and off to each side. You are facing due east, as the house is laid out on the cardinal coordinates. The house was built in two sections, the original 1835 portion to the right, and a 1910 addition to the left.
The 1835 portion is approximately 20 by 40 feet with a standing seam metal roof. On each gabled (north and south) end there is a stone chimney (the north chimney is hidden within the 1910 addition). The upper story has five evenly spaced 6-over-6 double hung windows, the lower story has four 9-over-6 windows flanking the centered door. There is a three-pane transom over the door. Operating wooden shutters flank the windows. There is a stone porch approximately 10 by 10 feet in front of the door with a front-gabled metal roof that starts at the house just under the center upper floor window. The south end has a window on each side of the chimney, again 6-over-6 on the second floor and 9-over-6 on the first, with shutters, plus two 4-pane attic windows.
The back (east face) features a full-width veranda on each floor across the main section. The windows and door are similar to the front, except that the second story has a door opening onto the veranda in place of the center window. There are two walkout cellar doors.
The 1910 addition is also two stories but it starts lower and has shorter stories. The front of the addition is flush with the front of the main section. The addition has two 6-over-6 windows on the each floor, with shutters, and the first floor has a door centered between the windows. The north gabled end has one door on the first floor opening out onto a roofed porch, and one 6 -over-6 window on the second story directly over the door, plus a small attic window. The rear of the addition has two 6-over-6 windows on each floor. Since the site slopes down from west to east the rear stone foundation of the addition is about six feet high, versus one foot in front.
This house has seen remarkably few alterations. The only indoor plumbing in the house as of the late 1980’s when the last of the Brills moved out was a kitchen sink, and that was supplied with water piped from the nearby springhouse. The electrical system consisted of one outlet and one overhead light in each room.
When the house was auctioned off in the early 1990’s the purchaser began a round of renovation that included upgraded electric service, a septic system, a drilled well, indoor plumbing (with 2-1/2 baths), electric baseboard heat, refinished floors, and new veranda railings. These renovations were not completed, however, and a number of necessary maintenance items were neglected.
When the current owners purchased the property in 1998 it was in need of extensive repairs and renovation. The historic nature of this house is important to the current owners and they made every reasonable effort to maintain and restore historical elements of the house. The recent, but cheap and modern, master bathroom was gutted and redone in a more appropriate style using beadboard wainscoting and a clawfoot tub. The unique door frame molding details were recreated in the master bath doorway and in the closet for the plumbing/electric in the front hallway. The entire interior was painted in a color scheme designed to accentuate the architectural moldings, chair rails, and mantels.
Some historical compromises were made, especially in light of the fact that the house is now being used as a full-time residence for two adults and two children. The old, leaky double-hung window sashes were replaced with insulated vinyl window units, but in deference to the appearance of the house the original 9 over 6 style on the first floor windows was maintained, and the windows include integrated sculpted muntins. Additionally, due to extensive rot, the rear verandas and the front porch were rebuilt using modern methods and materials, but the unique “fin” details at the eaves were salvaged in the rear and recreated in the front.
An addition to the original two-story house was build circa 1910. A grandson of Smith Brill recalls that Smith had built or at least completed building this addition. The addition is sited on the north gable end of the original house. It encloses the north chimney. It is similar in appearance to the original house in that it is two stories, has a stone foundation, wood clapboard siding, and metal roof, however the foundation and the stories themselves are not as high as the original. It includes a small porch on the north end.
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