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Style · April 12, 2018

After extensive renovations, Eastwood returns to glory

As a builder, these opportunities do not come along very often.
— Ken Foster
• What: Two-story farmhouse built in 1853; restored and used as a small events/wedding venue.

• Where: 6195 Eastwood Drive, near Warrenton; across from the Fauquier County Fairgrounds.

• Owners: Reta and Steve Rodgers.

• Size: About 6,600 square feet; three bedrooms, two full baths and two half baths.

• Outbuildings/barns: 8.

• Property: About 180 acres.

• Events: About 12 last year; up to 24 per year with maximum of 250 attendees under conditions of special exception permit from county.

• Taxable value: $1.3 million for the house and 100-acre parcel.

• Facebook: Click here.

• Website: Click here.
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Staff Journalist
The simple, yet elegant white stucco farmhouse rises among bucolic fields just east of Warrenton.

For the last six years, Reta Rodgers passionately has worked to restore the historic Eastwood and the surrounding property to its former glory.

A modest 19th-century farmhouse, Eastwood stands across from the Fauquier Fairgrounds on about 180 acres split into five parcels.

“It was purely a restoration attempt to put some beauty back into this place. It reeks of beauty,” said Ms. Rodgers, 71. “I think it’s a lovely place and is one of the last few remaining large pieces of property with close proximity to Warrenton, because the others have been developed. It’s something I wanted to do because I love real estate, too.”

In recent years the property has dodged the threat of giant Dominion Energy power lines and development as a subdivision.

Ms. Rodgers owned the Eastwood property from 1995 to 1997, when she used it for a horse breeding business. When absentee owners decided to sell 12 years later, she jumped at the chance to buy it back and save the property.

Ms. Rodgers and husband Steve purchased the 100-acre parcel in 2009 for about $1.9 million, according to county real estate records.

“It had loads of potential and had fallen into disrepair,” Ms. Rodgers said.

Built in 1853 and updated in the 1930s, the house needed major repairs.

So she enlisted longtime friend Ken Foster, a carpenter and builder, to help with the restoration.

Through Fosterbilt, the Prince William-based business he operates with his son Ben, Mr. Foster has completed several historic renovations.

“We work with new tools but also 18th-century hand planes and quite a collection of 18th-century tools in reproducing pieces and parts we need for these structures,” Mr. Foster said.

“As a builder, these opportunities do not come along very often,” he added. “We are blessed to have had this opportunity.”

It took about two years to restore the main house to the specifications of its 1939 blueprints — found in the garage attic — while adding modern amenities.

Mr. Foster and his team replaced the heating and cooling system and installed a new roof of tile shingles, reclaimed from an old cathedral in Pennsylvania.

“We literally had to renovate from the inside out,” Ms. Rodgers said. “From plumbing to electrical, windows, roof, siding.”

They replaced the dilapidated wood siding with stucco.

“It needed a kitchen, because the original kitchen of this house would’ve been separate,” Mr. Foster said.

He took the 18th-century Sycamore Springs house — previously part of the Ball-Shumate house in Fauquier County — and attached it to Eastwood to use as a kitchen.

They also repurposed wood from the original kitchen to make cabinets and tore out a large indoor pool that stood near the formal dining room.

Eastwood’s notable features include an accordion door from Montpelier and original hand-painted Zuber wallpaper illustrating pastoral scenes in the dining room.

“All the stone is original, the floor joists, the big, wide pine floors upstairs,” Mr. Foster said.

Surrounding the home, Eastwood’s gardens feature boxwood “rooms” with sculptures and borders of perennial flowers in peak bloom. 

The property has a history as a working farm with crops, cattle and horses. Today, soybeans and corn grow in the fields.

“Part of the reason I thought it would be a good idea to save this place is it has a lot of history,” Ms. Rodgers said. “It’s been here a long time.”

A few prominent families previously occupied the property, but the Primes in the early 20th century made the most changes. They added a dairy barn and possibly gave the farm the name Eastwood, according to Mr. Foster and Ms. Rodgers.

“This house has gotten left out of the history books,” Mr. Foster said. “You cannot find a thing about Eastwood other than when you trace the deeds back.”

Today, three historic buildings from other properties in Prince William County — the Balch house, a granary and a smokehouse — have been reconstructed on the property.

“It takes about a year to reassemble one of these structures,” Mr. Foster said.

The four-story granary previously served as an apple brandy distillery and as a shelter for women and children during the Civil War Battle of Bull Run.

“Mr. Foster had contacted me in 2004 . . . . I started buying (historic) structures, and really had no place to use them at that time,” Ms. Rodgers said.

“I have a very sensitive feeling about those types of properties, and when they were going to be sending in the loaders and backhoes and ripping and tearing them down and forever going to be wiped off the face of the earth, I thought, ‘I’ll save this building. I’ll take it’,” she said. “It’s just a passion.”

A former teacher and real estate agent, Ms. Rodgers got into historic preservation while the family lived in Loudoun County in the 1970s.

“They were widening Route 50, and they had some lovely homes up and down the road. I decided to start following developers around picking up shrubs and trees and flowering bulbs that were never going to be used again,” Ms. Rodgers said. “I got a taste for salvaging, saving, rescuing.”

“Fauquier County is a better place because of what she’s done here,” Mr. Foster said.

In 2015, the Rodgers family decided to share the property with the public by opening it to host weddings and other events.

“I really didn’t set up the farm to turn it into any venue,” Ms. Rodgers said. “I felt compelled to bring the (historic outbuildings) here . . . . Once it started to take on its own personality, it lent itself to these things.”

Eastwood last April opened to the public for Historic Garden Week.

“I appreciate that she has tried very hard to preserve the character of the site,” said Wendy Wheatcraft, Fauquier County government’s preservation planner. “She’s doing her part by saving other buildings from other locations and bringing them there.

“Certainly, she has tried very hard to accomplish protecting the site and put a lot of effort into it.”

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BJ · April 13, 2018 at 9:12 am
Thank you, thank you, thank you Ms. Rodgers and crew! Such a beautiful house and outbuildings, and what a wonderful place to live.
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