Rescuing a Classic Greek Revival from the 1830s

by hookedonhouses on February 27, 2014

Saxton Hall Greek Revival House NY BEFOREAreader named Nancy wrote me about her wonderful old house in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York. When she and her husband bought it, “It was in a complete state of disrepair.” But this house story has a happy ending. Here’s how it looks since they restored it and brought it back to life…

Saxton Hall Greek Revival in New York AFTER

Wow. I mean, seriously. They deserve a round of applause!

Saxton Hall, as it’s known, was built in 1830. Here’s an old photo Nancy found of it from when it was still a spring chicken back in the 1800s (I edited it so you could see the house better — you can see the original here):

Old photo of Saxton Hall in New York 2

The house was renovated in the late 1930s by Harvey Deuell, who was managing editor of the New York Daily News, and his wife Peggy Hull Deuell, who made history as the first woman war correspondent in WWI.

Since then, however, “virtually nothing had been done to it,” so you can just imagine the amount of work it needed by the time Nancy got to it. (She’s a former CNN journalist herself and the founder of the local news website Cornwall-on-Hudson.com, so the house seems to be a magnet for writers!)

Old photo of Saxton Hall in New York

Nancy says, “On the outside, pieces of the cornices and trim had rotted and the original wooden shutters had been removed. The roof of the rear porch had collapsed on one side, and the kitchen and ground floor bathroom were wrapped in blue tarps, with the paint partially scraped off.”

Saxton Hall restored Greek Revival NY BEFORE

The back of the house was in rough shape, too:

Saxton Hall restored Greek Revival side of house BEFORE

It looks about a million times happier today, though, doesn’t it?

Saxton Hall Greek Revival in New York side AFTER

Six huge Corinthian columns line the front porch:

Saxton Hall Greek Revival in New York (1)

Saxton Hall restored Greek Revival NY (1)

The ornate inlaid wood floor in the center hallway was once in such bad shape that you could barely see the pattern.

Saxton Hall restored Greek Revival NY (12)

It’s looking like new again now, though. Here’s a close-up:

Saxton Hall restored Greek Revival NY (16)

You could still see the original charm in rooms like this one (below), but “most of the walls had been stripped down to bare plaster, some of it with huge cracks.”

old dining room before remodel

Gotta love all the original fireplaces the house has, including these two that are side by side in adjoining rooms:

Saxton Hall restored Greek Revival NY (22)

“The marble fireplaces and plaster friezes of grapes and arbors reflect the high level of craftsmanship that went into building this house.”

Saxton Hall Greek Revival in New York (4)

At least two dozen window panes were cracked when they bought the house.

living room before remodel

The house has 4,615 square feet with 6 bedrooms and 3.5 baths.

Saxton Hall restored Greek Revival NY (11)

The second-story staircase:

Saxton Hall restored Greek Revival NY (4)

The house has 12-foot ceilings on the 1st floor, 10-foot ceilings on 2nd, and a very cool cupola on the roof with 360-degree views:

Saxton Hall restored Greek Revival NY (10)

I read that when Peggy Hull lived here, she spent a lot of time writing in the cupola. I can see why!

Saxton Hall restored Greek Revival NY (20)

When they bought it, Nancy says, “The kitchen had old cabinets, a 1950s electric stove and wood floors that gave you splinters when you walked barefoot.” Yikes.

old kitchen before remodel

It’s a lighter and brighter (and splinter-free) room today:

Saxton Hall Greek Revival in New York (5)

old kitchen before remodel 2

Saxton Hall restored Greek Revival NY (23)

It sits in the village of Cornwall-on-Hudson, named one of the “Best Places to Live in the Hudson Valley” by Hudson Valley Magazine.

Saxton Hall restored Greek Revival NY (5)

A barn with a two-car garage was added to the property in 2005:

Saxton Hall restored Greek Revival NY (21)

Saxton Hall Greek Revival in New York (3)

The house sits on nearly 2 acres. When they bought Saxton Hall, Nancy says, “The landscaping was a mess — we filled two one-ton containers with debris, including chunks of concrete, fallen trees and trash.”

Saxton Hall restored Greek Revival NY (25)

It’s undergone quite a transformation since then.

Saxton Hall Greek Revival in New York (2)

Many thanks to Nancy for sharing the story of her house with us! They’ve put it on the market for $799,000. For more photos and information, check the listing and the Saxton Hall Facebook page.

Saxton Hall Greek Revival for sale NY (4)

Just a reminder that I moderate the comments, which is why they don’t show up right away. I’m trying to make my corner of the Internet a friendly and spam-free place where people feel free to share their “real houses” with us. Thanks for understanding!

Julia-simple teal signature

Hooked on Makeovers? Visit my Before & After page to see more of my favorites, including…

Cartwright-House-Victorian-in-Texas-BEFORESaving a Grand Old House in Texas

Want to get my weekly newsletter via email so you don’t miss anything?

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Are You Hooked on Houses?

Get Your "House Fix" with My Weekly Newsletter:

Layout and Design Customized by EightCrazy Design.

{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

AHOP February 27, 2014 at 8:35 am

Wow! Just looking at the ‘before’ pictures of the kitchen, it’s like….where do you even begin? I can see how it could have been very overwhelming (and depressing) very quickly, but the owners made it happen. I hope their home is blessed with happiness and laughter always. They’ve earned it!

Reply

Carrie S G February 27, 2014 at 8:36 am

Gorgeous!!! Stunning!!! I love everything about it. Well done renovation and best of luck to the sellers – I’m sure it will be snapped up quickly.

Reply

Kim February 27, 2014 at 8:40 am

One word, WOW!

Reply

Alie B February 27, 2014 at 8:45 am

What a wonderful old home! These homeowners have restored it to its former grandeur and done so with grace and respect. I love the inlaid flooring and woodstove in the kitchen! Actually, there are too many things about this property that I love, to list them all. To summarize in one word….FABULOUS.

Reply

Rachel February 27, 2014 at 8:51 am

Wow. This one sure is amazing. Loved it!

Reply

Dean February 27, 2014 at 9:25 am

Fantastic! Looks like a happy house for sure. Love to see people tackle a project like this and restore a beautiful property back to it’s former glory. Considering the location, size of lot and restoration, the price seems kind of low.

Reply

Amy in New Orleans February 27, 2014 at 9:32 am

Oh, this renovation is simply gorgeous! A touch of Southern Louisiana in New York… Perfect!

Reply

Jennah February 27, 2014 at 9:35 am

You had me at cupola! Incredible transformation! Kudos to the owners for keeping the character of the home. So many beautiful restorations to ‘ooh and aah’ over. I would immediately claim the cupola as my reading nook. Those fireplaces are stunning! Thanks for sharing, Julia!

Reply

Mandy February 27, 2014 at 9:53 am

Those columns…swoon! What a beautiful home!

Reply

Jen February 27, 2014 at 10:54 am

I truly gasped when I saw those hardwood floors. what an amazing job the homeowners did. GORGEOUS!!!

Reply

hookedonhouses February 27, 2014 at 11:58 am

I did, too, Jen. Those floors are incredible!

Reply

Rick S February 27, 2014 at 11:15 am

Julia,
What a fantastic restoration. They took a house that many would have torn down and brought it back to what it should look like. It looks like it was always loved and cared for. The part I love most is it looks “right” not new pretending to look old or over-the-top elegant. Just a beautiful home.
rick

Reply

Luciane at HomeBunch.com February 27, 2014 at 11:21 am

Julia,

This is EXTRAORDINARY! My jaw dropped many times while seeing this! Wow!

Have a wonderful day, sweetie.

xo

Luciane at HomeBunch.com

Reply

lauren February 27, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Wow. Such an impressive transformation! I’m so thankful that there are people in the world with the vision and stamina that it takes to pull something like this off. Bravo!

Reply

tammyCA February 27, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Ah-mazing! A beauty saved and restored..hip hip hooray for Nancy. I can’t fathom how such incredible, rich houses fall into such neglect…what is the backstory to this one? Maybe, another Gray Gardens situation? Well, at least it is saved and shining again.

Reply

Chrissy February 27, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Wow, they did an awesome job! That old picture you restored is amazing. That has got to be framed and put up somewhere in that house.

Reply

hookedonhouses February 27, 2014 at 12:50 pm

That’s a cool idea. I just love old photographs of houses like that!

Reply

Aimee February 27, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Wow! You can tell they worked really hard to honor the history of their home. Even the garage/barn looks amazingly appropriate. Every old house should be so lucky to have such thoughtful renovators.

Reply

Anne February 27, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Beautiful!!!

Reply

Liz February 27, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Wow, that house is gorgeous and what a magnificent job they have done of the restoration. Stunning!

Reply

tammyCA February 27, 2014 at 1:22 pm

I just came across this fascinating info on Peggy Hull Deuell: http://www.democrats.org/news/blog/peggy_hull_deuell_a_human_perspective_on_war

Sounds like I need to find a book on her now, if there is one. One of the things I always think about with old houses is how much history was going on in the world…this was years before the U.S. Civil War even, when this house was brand new…this house was built years before ELECTRICITY…no power tools built this house, just skilled hands of craftsmen.
I mean, we humans will come and go, die off, but these houses (if lucky) will keep on “living” for a long time. It is with that thinking I especially appreciate those who respect and restore the houses & buildings. If this was a house torn down and then a McMansion put up then look how much is forever lost.

Reply

hookedonhouses February 27, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Thanks for the link, Tammy!

Reply

Gur February 27, 2014 at 1:32 pm

What a wonderful restoration! Such love and care (and expense, I’m certain) went into that home. I was seriously expecting a much, much higher price.

Reply

Brandyn | Southern Distinctions February 27, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Absolutely wonderful! I love these posts. I think it’s so important that people save the beautiful and historic homes.

Reply

Gaynell February 27, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Amazing! Love the exterior and grounds, the interior is beautiful. The kitchen to die for. The price is unreal for all that. They did an incredible job. Good luck with the sale.

Reply

Suzy February 27, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Absolutely spectacular! But, here’s the rub: the taxes on this beauty are almost 23,000 dollars a year!
But, if you’re a millionaire, no problem (NOT ME!)
Keep them coming, Julia!

Reply

hookedonhouses February 27, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Ah, taxes. They’re always the rub, aren’t they? Ha. Thanks, Suzy.

Reply

Debbie V. February 27, 2014 at 2:40 pm

What a stunning home !!! Those hardwood floors in the entry are breathtaking…

Reply

Eric Ross February 27, 2014 at 2:46 pm

WOW!! That was truly a pleasure to see! What an amazing transformation that is obviously a labor of love! I may have missed it somewhere along the way, but how long did this transformation take from the time she began renovations to completion?

Reply

hookedonhouses February 27, 2014 at 2:58 pm

If I recall correctly, Eric, they bought it about 13 years ago. I’m not sure how much of that time was spent on renovations, though. Maybe she’ll stop by and chime in! :)

Reply

Lorrie February 27, 2014 at 2:52 pm

This restoration was done with such respect and honor to the house. You can see all the love they put into it. Thank you for sharing.

Reply

Julie M. February 27, 2014 at 4:13 pm

What a wonderful project!

Reply

Becky February 27, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Thanks for sharing this w/ us Julia; it’s just gorgeous!

Reply

Kathy February 27, 2014 at 6:31 pm

That whole area has some wonderful old homes.

Reply

Rebecca C February 27, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Absolutely stunning restoration. Thanks to the owners for saving this beauty.

Reply

Cindy February 27, 2014 at 7:42 pm

I love the blend of tradition with comfort. The rooms look inviitng – like you would want to hang out there. Not museum-like. Great job! It exudes happiness.

Reply

Jonia February 27, 2014 at 7:42 pm

Very stunning! And yes, I too love those floors. Beautiful renovation. The amount of debris removed, not a surprise from a house that size. We just finished gutting our house the previous summer and it’s not nearly that size. L.o.t.s. of garbage. What a fascinating legacy that home has had!

Reply

Jano February 27, 2014 at 8:20 pm

What space in the house is associated to those small windows near the eaves? I looked through the images to see if there were any in the background of some of the 2nd story shots but I didn’t spot any.

Reply

wendy February 28, 2014 at 1:49 am

that is my same question! i kept looking for an explanation in text or a clue in a picture… and i’m checking the real estate listing and fb page for the house too and nothing so far.

Reply

Dean February 28, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Maybe it has something to do with ventilation? Considering it’s age, maybe it was a way of cooling the second floor by allowing air to circulate. It doesn’t look like that space is high enough to walk around in comfortably. It is perplexing.

Reply

Ken - the OldHouseGuy March 1, 2014 at 12:26 pm

The smaller windows are for the 3rd floor. The floor is not as shallow it it appears. The roof is hipped but the design is to make it appear flat and unnoticed from the ground. That floor could be used for storage, kids play rooms, or servants rooms.

The house can appear grand without becoming top heavy with a top floor appearing like a main floor.

As for ventilation, that is the purpose of the belvedere on top. It actually acts like air-conditioning for the house as it creates a draft removing the hot air.

Reply

hookedonhouses March 1, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Interesting! Thanks for explaining that, Ken!

Reply

Dean March 1, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Thanks for the explanation. It makes sense now, especially the possible uses you point out.

Reply

Lisa T. from NC March 4, 2014 at 9:29 am

I still want interior pics of them!

Reply

Annie February 27, 2014 at 10:25 pm

Gorgeous. Stunning. Impressive. Thanks for sharing your house, Nancy!

Reply

Kate February 27, 2014 at 11:32 pm

Beautiful renovation both inside and outside! I’d spend so much time in that cupola!

Reply

Kim February 28, 2014 at 12:14 am

Amazing renovation! I love everything about it.

Reply

billy February 28, 2014 at 1:01 am

So did Mr. Peabody and Sherman use the way back machine to rescue the place?
(sorry but I had to)

Great house and the taxes oh my, but chuck’s house in Portland had a similar value to tax bill ratio.

Reply

Beth A February 28, 2014 at 4:56 am

Remarkable house, and remarkable people, who put so much love into bringing a gorgeous old house back to life. Hoping that whoever is fortunate enough to own it next has a close extended family and lots of friends. It looks like a perfect family home place where several generations could gather.

I simply cannot stop staring at these house photos!

Reply

Laura February 28, 2014 at 8:56 am

Bravo to the homeowners for an amazing restoration. It makes me happy when people rescue houses like this. Beautiful!

Reply

Mary Engelbreit February 28, 2014 at 10:27 am

That house must be so happy!

Reply

Erin February 28, 2014 at 11:00 am

Happy ending is right!

Reply

Ken - the OldHouseGuy February 28, 2014 at 11:35 am

It’s so refreshing to see a good quality restoration. I do old house consulting and makeovers and the ideas most homeowners and architects have are scary! They mean well but just don’t understand historic architecture and are under the influence of modern day builders and advertisements. They think they can add ornamentation anywhere on their house and it becomes Victorian.

Congrats to a homeowner for a job well done!

Reply

laurie February 28, 2014 at 12:13 pm

It would be interesting to know what the purchase price was and how much money went into it.

Reply

Katherine February 28, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Wonderful restoration. Such a beautiful house…the owners did it proud. Seems like a bargain, with all the money they must have put into it! And anything on the Hudson is just so pretty.

Reply

Fiamma February 28, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Holy Awesome! Their neighbors must have loved them for rescuing this diamond in the rough. And the taxes are par for the course in that part of the world. Trust me. I am a NJ resident. ;-)

Reply

Nita February 28, 2014 at 3:52 pm

I don’t think you can do anything more important in life, other than raising children, than to rescue an old house. Kudos. I could not bear to sell it, though.

Reply

Dana McDowell February 28, 2014 at 4:12 pm

What a jaw-dropping transformation!!!! Bravo Nancy for undertaking such a daunting yet rewarding restoration.

Reply

Esther George February 28, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Hi Julia this home looks so majestic and inside absolutely breathtaking. What I don’t understand is you go through all that renovating and then you put it on the market. I watch the English Grand Designs they go though so much because they do it from the heart and to let go after all that Ouch…. I couldn’t do it. Thank you for sharing this beauty, must go back and admire some more. Regards Esther from Sydney. PS hope you have a great weekend.

Reply

Wendy February 28, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Beautiful restoration. Hooray for the folks who did it! And hooray for you for posting this story. This is what keeps me coming back. It just makes my day.

Reply

Karen N. March 1, 2014 at 2:10 pm

I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said but did want to chime in. It’s a beautiful home in a beautiful setting. I hope it finds the right owner.

Reply

Patience March 1, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Greek Revival is my absolute favorite architectural style, and upstate New York seems to be a prime place to find this style. I love this restoration. Absolutely stunning.

Reply

Deb March 1, 2014 at 6:15 pm

WOW, that is beautiful!!! Great job!!!

Reply

Melissa Daly March 3, 2014 at 7:39 am

Thanks for sharing!
The kitchen kind of reminds me of the movie Baby Boom which I know you’ve profiled. I love the updated kitchen but it just shows how we have stretched our ideas of updating and renovating from earlier decades. The exterior reminds me a lot of President James Monroe’s home near Monticello. I wonder if they were built around the same time. Hey that’s a thought, what about doing a series on President’s homes?

Reply

Lisa T. from NC March 4, 2014 at 9:32 am

I’m so glad they kept the little wood stove in the kitchen. That made me smile :-)

Reply

hookedonhouses March 4, 2014 at 9:33 am

Me, too! :-)

Reply

Sara March 4, 2014 at 10:56 am

Do you think if I find myself in the area they’d let me hang out on that porch for a few hours?! Oh, the books I could read there! AMAZING.

Reply

Ellie March 5, 2014 at 8:51 am

I’m in awe at the courage and foresight it took to take on this project and how absolutely magnificent it turned out.

Reply

Niamh March 19, 2014 at 4:09 am

actually speachless omg such a beautful home <3<3<3

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: