Owner Cristina Cadden shares the story of restoring The 1616 House.
In early 2019, my husband, Spencer, and I stumbled upon The 1616 House while on a quest to acquire a property in the Southeast. Our primary objective was to establish a luxurious wedding venue that would exude the charm of French elegance, offer ample interior space, and create a refined ambiance. Having previously operated a wedding furniture rental company in San Diego, we desired a more permanent location to host meticulously curated weddings and events, eliminating the need to transport our inventory to venues.
As only the third owners in 108 years, we consider ourselves fortunate to have forged connections with the previous owners and the local community. This has allowed us to immerse ourselves in the mansion’s rich history, through a treasure trove of photographs showcasing its evolution over the years. Upon acquiring the property in October 2019, we embarked on a mission to restore the mansion to its original grandeur after it had been unoccupied for numerous years. Our goal was to preserve its historical charm and make it available to others as a venue where they can celebrate their most cherished and significant occasions. Since opening in the spring of 2021, we feel very fortunate to be fulfilling our dream of bringing this historical property back to life and having the opportunity to share this architectural gem with others.
The restoration work of The 1616 House was projected to take two years of intensive, all-day restoration work with a five-year overall projection to complete the entire restoration.We began this project in February of 2020, but the pandemic ended up forcing Spencer and I to have to complete much of the restoration process ourselves. Our first major task was restoring the 165-double-hung window sashes that took roughly a year to complete. We had to remove every sash out of the frame, remove the paint down to the bare wood, reglaze the panes, repaint each sash, source antique glass for repairs, and re-hang each one by hand. There are still a few that we have left to complete, but overall, that was a portion of the restoration that we are very proud to have completed ourselves.
Our local community has been an incredible pillar of support for us from the very beginning of the restoration journey. Their unwavering encouragement throughout the years has played a pivotal role in sustaining our determination during challenging times. They have expressed their gratitude repeatedly, emphasizing how thankful they are for our efforts in rescuing this property from further disrepair, and for our wholehearted commitment. We also live right next door in the house originally constructed by the Pelzer family in 1902 to witness their dream house come to life. For the first time in many years, this corner of South Perry Street has regained its vibrancy, and our community members have conveyed how significant and positive this transformation has been.
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