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Elegant Air

Circa-1952 Williamsburg Revival.



Lucian Minor Dent worked as an architect on the restoration of Williamsburg, the 18th-century capital of Virginia. By the 1940s, Dent was busy in Memphis but his eye for classical massing and detail shows. In 1950, he began St. John's Episcopal Church at Central and Greer based on Bruton Parish Church, built in 1715, in Williamsburg. Two years later he designed this story-and-a-half Colonial Revival home just south of the estate of the cotton merchant Hugo Dixon and his wife Margaret.

The home has only had two owners in its 50 years of existence and certainly has not suffered under their tenure. The floor plan begins with a center-hall entry flanked by living and dining rooms. Classical details (not typical of Williamsburg), which enrich the facade, include Tuscan columns at the entrance portico and main windows that run almost floor-to-ceiling. The venerable old boxwoods that flank the porch are typical of Williamsburg and don't hurt either.

More room was ultimately needed, and this is where the true ingenuity of the plan shows. To preserve light and air while adding a sizable addition, two exterior spaces were carved out, one each behind the original living and dining rooms. As a result, all the original and new rooms have cross-ventilation, and most share a delightful view of the paved and landscaped courtyards.

The entry has a striking black-and-white marble floor. Public rooms have random-width, pegged oak. The living-room fireplace has had an 18th-century mantel lovingly installed. The dining room has a commodious china closet in addition to an adjoining butler's pantry. Doorways were raised to eight feet tall, which enhances the flow of space through the public rooms.

A large, brick-floored den was added to the rear. Poplar beams were installed at the ceiling and wide old planks were used for wall paneling. An overscale, brick firebox with timber mantel is the appropriate focus. In addition to a wine closet and an ample bar, there is a small greenhouse and a perfect screened porch looking down to a pool surrounded by lush plantings. Not too shabby.

One wing of the new addition contains the master suite and guest bedroom. The master has a wall of built-ins (including media area) and a fireplace finished with a slate mantel feather-painted to look like marble. There's a study, two bathrooms, and tons of closets. The guest room overlooks the pool and its bath has hand-painted walls featuring a delicate pattern of bamboo trellises.

The other wing holds kitchen, breakfast nook, mudroom, game room, and a four-car garage. The kitchen has been renovated to accommodate two cooks with two sinks and two stoves (one gas, one electric). The breakfast room overlooks one of the courtyards and its small fountain. Flourishing gardenias and creeping fig are protected by the microclimate of the surrounding brick walls, just as the inhabitants of this remarkable home have been sheltered by its elegant air.

1092 Audubon Drive
5,175 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 4 baths

Realtor: The Hobson Co., 761-1622
Agent: Mary Frances Pitts, 312-2942

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