This month, the Alexandria Historic Preservation Commission is pleased to showcase a beautiful home in Alexandria’s Local Garden District that has remained in the same family for 100 years. Nestled onto a lush and shaded lot on Barrister Street, the Scott-Thomas-McDaniel House perfectly illustrates the power of a single historic structure to connect generations of family, past and present.
In 1914, Nauman Scott had a one-story “planter cottage” constructed for his new bride, Sidonie Provosty, on a large tract of land owned by Judge Horace White. Judge White subdivided the land and named many of the streets for his children—Julia, Polk, and Franklin. The area attracted many lawyers and eventually, Julia Street—on which Nauman and Sidonie’s cottage was located—was renamed Barrister Street. The Scotts diligently cared for their home and yard, even with the addition of five children by 1925. In 1923, they added a sleeping porch to the front left corner of their two bedroom cottage to accommodate their growing family, and discussed the possibility of adding a second story.
In June 1926, Nauman Scott, Sr. died tragically from an accidental gunshot wound. The next summer, while Sidonie and all five children were in France visiting cousins, a fire destroyed the garage, laundry house, and the roof of the main house. Sidonie saw this tragedy as an opportunity and drew up her own plans to remodel the home to ensure her family would always have plenty of room to gather. Soon, their charming cottage became a grand colonial home, complete with a curving interior staircase designed and constructed by Mr. Pospisil, a Czech cabinet maker. Sidonie assigned all five children the task of bricking the front walkway and other areas of the yard. The children’s handiwork remains intact today, greeting every visitor that wanders up the front path.
Sidonie and Nauman established their home at 1244 Barrister Street as a trusted gathering place for family and friends. Sidonie lived there for almost 60 years, followed by her daughter, Sidonie (Be’) and husband LaVerne Thomas, who lived in the home for 30 years until Be’ passed away in 2005. In the last year of her life, Be’ finally agreed to the installation of central air conditioning in the downstairs of the house and to sheetrocking two rooms. However, for a woman in her 80’s who had lived through the depression and seen the world change one hundred fold during her lifetime, spending this kind of money on a house seemed fairly outrageous. A few friends later said she had secretly been hoping that this would encourage family to continue its tradition once she passed on.
Be’s hopes were realized. In 2006, Be’s daughter Sidonie and husband John McDaniel faced the decision as to whether to take on the wonderful old home, which now was desperately in need of some updating. They ultimately decided that the tradition was just too rich to let go, and the restoration began. Sid and John wanted to give the house the “TLC” it deserved without destroying its integrity or covering up many lifelong memories. They spent time carefully planning and choosing a contractor that they felt shared their vision to restore, not just renovate. That diligence led them to Steve Soileau. Their restoration included:
1. Rewiring the whole house, as there were still the old cloth-covered wires in the walls.
2. Adding lighting and fans throughout to “brighten things up”
3. Sheetrocking the entire house (except for the two rooms already done), including half of the third floor attic, which stemmed from Sid’s childhood memories of cousin slumber parties up there.
4. Painting or wallpapering the entire house, except the kitchen.
5. Removing a wall between the butler’s pantry and the back porch, creating a counter for eating and visiting (where the family now lives!)
6. Removing at least a third of Sid’s favorite upstairs bedroom to move the laundry upstairs, also adding a small refrigerator, sink and microwave for convenience upstairs and creating a large cedar-lined closet to help compensate for lack of closet space.
7. Refinishing almost all the floors, except for the downstairs bedroom and back porch where most furniture was stored during the process.
8. Tiling the bathroom at top of stairs and adding a shower and new sink and vanity
9. Remodeling the master bath, which had been redone in the 50’s in a fashion not true to character of the house
10. Adding a balcony and rail outside master bedroom
11. Enclosing half of the third floor attic and creating a “grandkids” slumber room with bath.
12. Creating a “powder room” out of an old service bath on the porch off of the kitchen.
Numerous materials from the house were reincorporated, including old beaded board, glass, rewired and restored light fixtures, hinges, doors, etc. During the restoration, under a floorboard in the attic, among some old rolls of wallpaper, Steve found a cylinder containing the blueprints from 1923 that Sid’s grandparents had made with Barron and Heinburg of their expansion plans. They were grander than the actual adaptation done in 1927, but they were an exciting find.
This project, although completed in 2007, provides a rare opportunity to honor a family celebration of the centennial of the home, which occurred on May 31, 2014. This celebration brought together approximately 200 family members from as far away as France. The Alexandria Historic Preservation Commission commends the efforts of three generations of the Scott family–Scott, Thomas, and McDaniel–for having the foresight, commitment, and dedication to preserve a treasured family home. We celebrate that, because of your collective efforts, the true spirit of our Preservation in Progress award exists in 1244 Barrister for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.