By Estella R. Fullmer
For Hometown News
NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- The New Smyrna Beach City Commission honored Randy and Jennifer Williams Tuesday for their work restoring a 1910 Victorian home at 508 Ball St.
They were awarded the Donnadine Miller Memorial Historic Preservation Award in the residential category. The Southeast Volusia Chamber of Commerce was the winner in the non-residential category for the rehab of the Chamber of Commerce building at 115 Canal St. Chamber Executive Vice President Samantha Bishop accepted the award for the city-owned building.
"I am very honored," Mr. Williams said. "I love this city and these old homes."
He bought the house in the early '90s and said he has been "chipping away at it a little at a time." Mr. Williams did the work, along with his wife, and restored it room by room. "The windows were a major undertaking, but we felt it was very important to keep the originals," he said while demonstrating how easily the original pulley and lever window system works now.
Another major project on the house was the porch railings. Mr. Williams restored the spindles to their original design by hand cutting each one with a jig saw and installing them himself. "I just came home from work each day and cut five or six until I had enough. It took a while," said grinning. "Some people said I was crazy, but I think it was important to keep the original look and character of the building."
He and his wife enjoy the dark wood, hand-carved stair railing the most. "I think this railing is really why we bought this house. We just loved it when we saw it," Mr. Williams said.
He also pointed out the bricks going to the front porch from the road that were salvaged from Canal Street between U.S. 1 and the river. He recalled how much work it was to refurbish and install the bricks.
"We reused and recycled where we could and we salvaged things from other historic buildings around the area," Mr. Williams said. "We wanted to bring in some ties to other parts of the city."
One salvaged item was the closet door under the staircase, which came from The Albacore.
Although there were some surprises during the restoration, Mr. Williams declared the core of the house was good and the electrical and plumbing had already been upgraded. "It seemed like for every job I predicted it would take 5 steps, it turned out to take 15 steps, but we are nearly finished now," he said.
The Williamses tried to keep the original character of the house and Mrs. Williams picked the colors from a Victorian planner color palette. Decorated in soft gray-blues and pastel yellows the house displays a tasteful beach theme with hardwood floors and a hidden microwave and dishwasher. "We didn't want a modern look," commented Mr. Williams, "we wanted it to look old and yet have the modern conveniences."
The restoration of the Chamber of Commerce building began in the winter of 2010 and was finished in the spring of 2012. Funding for the project was through a CRA grant of $152,660 and an ECHO grant of $298,052. The goal of the city was to restore the building to its original look and it was number eight of their top 10 projects to complete in 2011. Gerard J. Pendergast, of Bender & Associates and a former chamber president, nominated the building for the award.
The Historic New Smyrna Beach Preservation Commission discussed the nominees for the Donnadine Miller Memorial Historic Preservation Award at its February meeting. City Planner Kevin Jameson submitted the nominees in each category and the HPC reviewed each property and forwarded its ranking to City Planner Gail Henrikson. The winners were awarded certificates March 13 at the City Commission meeting and will be receiving a plaque.