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Welcome to the warmth of Ingleside

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Story and photos by Audrey Thomasson

Down a narrow lane in the village of Wicomico Church is a charming Federalist-styled c.1840 home. It’s name, Ingleside, was bestowed by the original owner, Hiram Ingram, and is Scottish for hearthside — appropriate for the warm and welcoming home which has wood burning fireplaces in nearly every room and retains a strong sense of its history throughout.

Current owners, Emma and Jim Voelzke of Washington, D.C., also bring a warm and welcoming charm to the home they’ve owned for about two years. The rooms are filled with youthful vibrancy from their three children and an abundance of friends. Emma explained they have as many as 16 people there on some visits.

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Saving part of the past helps to preserve the home’s character.

Jim is an architect who was attracted to the dwelling’s original features which were maintained even though the house has been through several renovations over 170 years. He believes it’s his responsibility to preserve Ingleside for future families to enjoy. 

Situated on 10 acres, the property includes five original outbuildings—a brick smoke house, an old abandoned laundry house, a carriage house, guesthouse with office and a workshop.

Ingleside is listed in Historic Sites in Virginia’s Northern Neck and Essex County. Author Thomas Wolf states the bricks and flagstones used in the structure are believed to have come from the ruins of Wicomico Parish Church across the road. 

Previous owners, Rob and Paula Ransone, purchased Ingleside in 1992 and enlisted the help of researchers to conduct an historical study. Their study revealed the wings were added to the home in 1851. Col. Lewis Tignor acquired it in 1867 and made extensive renovations in 1923 when it is believed electricity and steamed heat were added.

“Evidently, Ingleside was one of the first houses in the area to have electricity, which was evidently ‘all on’ or ‘all off,’” according to Paula Ransone. “Visitors have told us of driving down Route 200 in the 1930s and seeing the house completely lighted.”

The structure still has the knob and tube wiring and screw-in baseboard plugs for historical purposes, she noted. Also original— all the moldings, the staircase, paneling, many of the doors and fireplace mantels, and H and L hinges—some with leather washers.

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Beams outline the domed ceiling over the breakfast nook.

Ingleside and its outbuildings were in disrepair when the Ransones purchased it. Many floor joists had been eaten away and one chimney blew down in a storm while another, built directly on the ground, soon followed.

The Ransones hired an historical architect from Richmond to design a kitchen, laundry and utility addition that would harmonize with the original character of the dwelling, placing it at the back to keep from altering the front elevation. Cabinets were built to fit the home’s style, and were mismatched intentionally to give the appearance they were added over time. The old kitchen is now the “keeping room” or “TV room” to the Voelzke kids, Grace, 14, Maggie, 18, and Jim, 21.

Some features of the past renovations were removed, like the narrow oak veneer flooring in the dining room, and the original wide plank heart pine floors restored. Other features were retained such as a charming sink in the butler’s pantry. All the old claw-foot tubs were saved, as well, but gutters were removed and replaced with a Williamsburg-style brick drain system around the home’s foundation in keeping with the earlier era. The home was also fitted with ductwork to accommodate central air conditioning, not an easy feat for such an old structure. Energy efficient windows were added, also for comfort, while hexagonal tiles were installed to give bathroom floors a “dated” look.

After the Ransone’s sold the house, it fell back on 10 years of hard times, was foreclosed by the bank and again began to deteriorate. The Voelzkes added central heating, repaired and replaced plaster and plumbing and are currently working to restore the landscaping.

Jim noted the home’s wonderful original design of a long row of single-file rooms that allows light to stream in from all sides.

“It’s my favorite feature of the house,” he said.

And who better than an architect to save this little piece of the past and fill it with life, laughter, love and a dog named Boom?

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posted 03.23.2012

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