Feature > Restoring a Classic Colonial Revival Home

When H. L. Mencken wrote, “A home is not a mere transient shelter: its essence lies in the personalities of the people who live in it,” he acknowledged one of the most compelling aspects of owning an old home—its history. Perfectly appointed rooms or antique furnishings aren’t what make a home interesting; it’s the people who live there.

John David and Terry Heinzmann sought that sense of place when they relocated to New Hampshire from northern California in the late 1990s. They found just what they were looking for upon discovering the stately circa 1890 house in northeast Manchester that is now their home.

John David, a mechanical engineer with a discerning eye for detail, grew up in an eighteenth-century Colonial home in Connecticut. He was especially interested in older houses “with character” and was thrilled to find a home where he could indulge his appreciation for the past.

“To me, there’s so much (history) in these old homes,” he says. “We wanted to honor the builder’s original intention by bringing the house back to what it was.” John David’s research of the home’s history and its building materials informed the Heinzmanns’ decisions during renovations.

The Home’s History

With its stately columns, porches (including a widow’s walk) and symmetrical facade, the Heinzmann home is a classic example of Colonial Revival style. Built by a local businessman, John Campbell, the house was a grand residence with large public spaces and servants’ quarters. In 1894, the home and property were transferred to Elizabeth Stark, the greatgranddaughter of Revolutionary War General John Stark, to settle a judgment against Campbell. Shortly thereafter, the building was divided into a two-family home, which is how it remained until the Heinzmanns bought it in 1998.

“The house had never been lived in the way it was intended to be, so, as we were restoring it, we wondered about the intent of its original design,” Terry says. “We had a lot of history to reclaim.”

One of the fascinating aspects of the Heinzmann home is how different materials were used in different rooms, depending upon whether they were to be used by servants or the public. “The finest wood, possibly gumwood, appears in the downstairs and upstairs foyer, as well as the grand staircase—the areas the public would see,” Terry explains. ”Many of the doors have different woods on opposite sides, depending on which areas of the house they face,” John David adds. “You’ll find oak, a finer wood, in the butler’s pantry where the family would go. But on the other side that faces the servants’ pantry is southern yellow pine.”

Assembling a Local Team

Whether sitting in the Heinzmanns’ sunny kitchen or standing on one of the home’s grand front porches, looking west toward Mount Uncanoonuc, it’s apparent why the Heinzmanns love their home.

A similar spell was cast over others who worked on the twelve-room home’s renovations. Ron Piecuch, a carpenter, and Michael Duffy, an old-house painter with experience in historic building restoration, worked extensively on the house. Ironically, both lived in the neighborhood. Piecuch grew up two blocks away and walked by the Heinzmann home daily as a child on his way to school. Duffy, who lives down the street, recognized the home as “one of the best houses in the neighborhood” even though it was in disrepair when the Heinzmanns purchased it. “The house has architectural charm without attitude,” he says.

After interviewing many craftsmen, the Heinzmanns retained Duffy and Piecuch not only because of their expertise but, more importantly, because they honored John David’s acute eye for detail and respect for the historic structure. “By business standards, it made no sense to remodel the house back to its original state, but the Heinzmanns did it anyway,” Duffy says. “They did good work and didn’t rush it.”

A Tour-Worthy Kitchen

The kitchen, which is featured on the Palace Theatre Kitchen Tour on June 3 (see bottom of this page), was originally an open space. It’s reached via the former butler’s pantry, which is striking for its floor-to-ceiling oak cabinetry and acts as an anteroom (and occasional bar area) for the home’s side entrance.

With their love of the home’s history foremost in mind, the Heinzmanns gave a lot of thought to kitchen design. “Our goal in designing our kitchen was to honor the era of the house by restoring the rooms back to their original function while creating a convenient, usable kitchen space.”

Sue Booth of Vintage Kitchens in Concord helped the Heinzmanns develop a solution: three spaces. The butler’s pantry is used to welcome guests; the main kitchen is for cooking, eating and congregating; and the servants’ pantry is for clean up, additional cooking space and storage. The result is a relaxed, welcoming space, with nostalgic appeal and modern amenities.

“The kitchen was well thought out,” Booth says. “Terry and John David made it easy. They understand and value the gem (of a house) they have.”

All the kitchen cabinetry was built and installed by Piecuch, as were the windows over the sink. The original back door was removed to make room for a refrigerator. A focal point of the kitchen is the 1950s-era O’Keefe and Merritt stove and oven—found on eBay® and in working order since John David cleaned it and replaced a few parts. A kitchen counter and stove hood are copper; the counter adjacent to the stove is soapstone.

In some cases, walls and rooms that had been created to divide the house into a two-family home had to be demolished or reconfigured. The servants’ pantry is a good example. Previously used as a bathroom, the space was gutted. The Heinzmanns discovered (piled in the basement) some of the pantry’s original southern yellow pine cabinetry, which mirrored the oak cupboards on the other side of the wall in the butler’s pantry. Using this original cabinetry and shelving, Piecuch reconstructed the servants’ pantry choosing fir for countertops around the pantry sink and cabinets on the opposing wall. (Since quality old-growth southern yellow pine is no longer available, John David finished the fir with enough coats of garnet shellac so that its color matched the original southern yellow-pine-cabinets and used marine spar varnish on the counters to protect the shellac.) A wall oven and dishwasher also are located in this area.

The Surrounding Rooms

The surrounding rooms Off the butler’s pantry are the sitting room and formal dining room, which face north and west, and allow for ample sun in the summer. The Heinzmanns switch the two rooms seasonally, so visitors can sit by the fireplace in the winter and then enjoy the sun from the front room in the summer. A bay window in the front room is filled with plants and surrounded by the couple’s art collection, including several of Terry’s vibrant watercolors.

The hallway, set off by a beautiful archway and carved paneling, leads to a grand staircase. A room with a piano and television is off the hall, as is a small bathroom tucked under the stairs. Behind a door beyond the grand staircase is the back staircase, originally intended to be used by servants to avoid disturbing the family in the main part of the house.

Happy at home

Outside, the Heinzmanns painted the house a warm, ivory-tinged yellow with a creamy white trim accented with dark green details at the doors and windows; repaired and improved the slate and copper roof; and restored three of the home’s five porches. The front walkway was rebuilt, and a side porch that had been enclosed was opened to become a side entrance. Inside, there’s more the Heinzmanns want to do, such as replace wallpaper and restore the upstairs bedrooms.

Still, the couple is happy with their home. It accomodates their needs, their style of entertaining and their desire to preserve history. “The character of this house and the original materials used to build it,” John David says with a pause, “it just soothes my soul.”

Take the Fifth Annual Palace Theatre Kitchen Tour

The Heinzmann kitchen is one of seven featured on this year’s Palace Theatre Kitchen Tour—scheduled for 9a.m.-3p.m. on Wednesday, June 3—where visitors can savor the sights of Bedford and Manchester’s finest kitchens. Lunch (catered by O’s Restaurant in Lakeport and served at the Manchester showroom of Baron’s Major Brands) is included, and tour maps are available at Granite State Cabinetry (384 Route 101 in Bedford) the day of the tour.

Tickets are $45 or $50 day of the tour, and are available at The Palace Theatre (668-5588, www.palacetheatre.org). All proceeds benefit youth programs at The Palace Theatre.

Tour sponsors include Baron’s Major Brands Appliances; Granite State Cabinetry; Holloway Motor Cars of Manchester; Mir Sultan Oriental Rugs; New Hampshire Accents, Fine Crafts; Not Just Kitchens; and Vintage Kitchens.