Carr’s Hill is the home of the University of Virginia’s President — a place known to donors, faculty, and students alike as a coveted invitation. Stanford White’s 1909 contribution to Grounds is listed on the National Register and the Virginia Landmarks Register, but stood for more than a century without any significant renovation — even if the need had been apparent for some time. The university hired Glavé & Holmes Architecture and associate architect John G. Waite and Associates to assess the existing historic structure, its conditions, and the risks of intervening. The team came up with a surgically precise plan to minimize disruption while bringing the building’s systems into the 21st century.

Carrs Hill Interior
Glavé & Holmes Architecture and associate architect John G. Waite and Associates returned Stanford White’s residence for UVa’s president to its former glory with structural rehabilitation, a cosmetic overhaul, and systems upgrades. Photo by Virginia Hamrick Photography.

Complete interior and exterior rehabilitations of buildings are like skin grafts, blood transfusions, organ replacements, and skeletal mending all in one. Every move matters, every element is revealed and made vulnerable, and every piece must be returned to its original appearance while vastly improving the functionality and integrity of the systems.

​”​The most significant and urgent elements were the steel trusses in the attic, which we had to address so the weight loads could be better distributed for the building​, ​and that was no small task since there were three trusses total​,​” says Susan Reed, AIA, Historic Preservation Studio Director at Glavé, whose team also made some unexpected discoveries. “We found the dining room’s original mahogany and leaded glass pocket doors in the garage, which we reinstalled and later discovered related to the leaded glass china cabinets that had been moved to the third floor.”

The team at Glavé also reinforced floor joists to keep party revelers and reception dignitaries from falling through the floors. They corrected persistent water issues — perhaps the deadliest threat to any structure short of fire. New Buckingham slate on the roof, a replacement balustrade, masonry repointing and cleaning, and rebuilding White’s terrace on the east side on the exterior brought the building back to life from its perch behind the School of Architecture above University Avenue and Rugby Road.

Importantly, mechanical, engineering, and plumbing upgrades not only made the building safer, but more efficient. Wiring, pipes, and fire safety and security systems were all upgraded by the design and restoration teams to join other 21st century buildings on Grounds.

“We had an exceptional group of consultants and great care was put into all of the drawings and into the choices we made, from UVa’s preservationists to the team at John. G. Waite,” says Reed. “We all fundamentally understood the importance of getting this right, and I think we did.”

About the Project Team

Architecture Firm: Glavé & Holmes Architecture
Owner: University of Virginia
Associate Architect: John G. Waite Associates
Contractor: Alexander Nicholson
Photographer: Virginia Hamrick Photography
Landscape Architect: Wolf Josey Landscape Architects
Upholsterer: Potter Upholstering, Inc.
Plasterers: Custom Finishes
Historic Restoration Mason: Traditional Masonry, Inc.
Exterior Walkways and Landscaping: Bricks and Stones Masonry LLC
Roofers: CHU Contracting, Inc.
Millwork Company: Gaston & Wyatt LLC
Exterior Painting: Piedmont Paint & Finish & Managed by C’Ville Construction
Interior Painting: H. J. Holtz & Son, Inc.
Historic Window Restoration: Centennial Preservation Group LLC & Managed by C’Ville Construction
Historic Wood Restoration: C’Ville Construction
Sitework: A.G. Dillard, Inc.
Structural Steel: Liphart Steel
HVAC: ColonialWebb Contractors Company
Electrical: Design Electric, Inc.
Floor Finishing: Duprey’s Fine Floors
Historic Brick Supplier: Watsontown Brick Company
Landscapers: Landscaping was done by the owners

About the Author
William Richards is a writer and editorial consultant based in Washington, D.C. From 2007 to 2011, he was the Editor-in-Chief of Inform Magazine.