After a summer of controversy and sticky negotiations to preserve what some believe is Richmond's oldest frame house, the verdict is in: The Patteson-Schutte house on Westover Drive, built before 1800, will be spared the bulldozer.
"The house will stay up," says John Nolde, the developer who has decided to donate the property to a preservation group.
Local historians believe the Patteson-Schutte plantation house was built by James A. Patteson (1723-1767), who was an agent of William Byrd III sometime in the mid-1700s. But the small house doesn't appear on any state or historic registries.
Earlier this year, however, it did stand in the path of developer John Nolde, who purchased the plantation house and surrounding properties to make way for a 44-unit subdivision called Westower Ridge.
Nolde says he's "not a rehab guy," and when he first saw the home, it just seemed like an old dilapidated building. He requested a demolition permit on June 3. The Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods wanted to protect the home for its historical value and offered to purchase the property, but those negotiations didn't lead to any workable solutions.
But Nolde had been in contact with Councilwoman Kathy Graziano. When she heard there were problems with the development, Graziano encouraged the developer to work with the Historic Richmond Foundation and find a way to save the house.
"Nolde changed the whole layout plan of that subdivision to allow us to save this house," says Tom Fahed, who sits on the board of the Historic Richmond Foundation and guesses the building is one of two pre-Revolutionary War structures in the city.
His group will pay $212,000 for the home "plus donations in-kind from the Noldes far in excess of that."
"Actually, when I think about it, if it wasn't for Nolde trying to develop the property, nobody would have noticed [the house], and it probably would have fallen apart," says Graziano. "John's a very responsible builder."
Nolde declined to comment on the failed negotiations with ACORN.
He credits the Historic Richmond Foundation with educating him on the historical value of the property. The foundation, Nolde says, also assured him that the revisions he needed to make on his subdivision plans, in order to preserve the house, wouldn't require refiling of building and site plans with the city.
He expects the property to change hands by year's end.
"Isn't it fun?" says Graziano. "It all worked out." Amy Biegelsen
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