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…
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):
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!)
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.”
The back of the house was in rough shape, too:
It looks about a million times happier today, though, doesn’t it?
Six huge Corinthian columns line the front porch:
The ornate inlaid wood floor in the center hallway was once in such bad shape that you could barely see the pattern.
It’s looking like new again now, though. Here’s a close-up:
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.”
Gotta love all the original fireplaces the house has, including these two that are side by side in adjoining rooms:
“The marble fireplaces and plaster friezes of grapes and arbors reflect the high level of craftsmanship that went into building this house.”
At least two dozen window panes were cracked when they bought the house.
The house has 4,615 square feet with 6 bedrooms and 3.5 baths.
The second-story staircase:
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:
I read that when Peggy Hull lived here, she spent a lot of time writing in the cupola. I can see why!
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.
It’s a lighter and brighter (and splinter-free) room today:
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.
A barn with a two-car garage was added to the property in 2005:
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.”
It’s undergone quite a transformation since then.
P.S. Visit Before & Afters to see more, including…