December 1, 2022

Gari Melchers Home and Studio Receives Restoration Award

 

L-R: Steve Stokes, owner, Stokes of England Blacksmithing Company; Scott Harris, Executive Director, UMW Museums; Tim Winther, owner, Dominion Traditional Building Group (with daughter Lillian); Hunter Shackleford (UMW ’20), Lawrence King (UMW ’20), and Sam Biggers (UMW ’16), all of Dominion Traditional Building Group.

L-R: Steve Stokes, owner, Stokes of England Blacksmithing Company; Scott Harris, Executive Director, UMW Museums; Tim Winther, owner, Dominion Traditional Building Group (with daughter Lillian); Hunter Shackleford (UMW ’20), Lawrence King (UMW ’20), and Sam Biggers (UMW ’16), all of Dominion Traditional Building Group.

At its annual meeting on March 27, 2022, the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc. presented the E. Boyd Graves Preservation Award to Gari Melchers Home and Studio for restoration of the ca. 1850 Horseshoe Staircase at Belmont. The museum shared the award with project Dominion Traditional Building Group of Marshall, Virginia and Stokes of England Blacksmithing Company of Keswick, Virginia. The award publicly recognizes notable preservation achievements made by groups or individuals during the previous year that contributed to the protection, understanding, appreciation, and revitalization of the Fredericksburg region’s history and historic resources. Originally known as the Preservation Achievement Award, the name was changed in 1988 to honor the late E. Boyd Graves, a founding member of HFFI, for his many years of service to local preservation and the instrumental role he played in the protection, restoration, and adaptive reuse of some of Fredericksburg’s most recognizable historic landmarks.

The Horseshoe Staircase at Gari Melchers Home and Studio.

The Horseshoe Staircase at Gari Melchers Home and Studio.

The Horseshoe Staircase is believed to date to ca. 1850, when Belmont’s owner, Joseph B. Ficklen, expanded the house. While the iron railing was likely fabricated in Philadelphia or another Pennsylvania community, initial construction of the stone steps almost certainly involved the Ficklens’ enslaved workforce. The staircase was included in the inaugural list of Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts in 2011. Nearly 30 individual and organizational donors funded the $100,000 restoration project. Stokes of England completed conservation of the iron railing in March 2021, and Dominion Traditional Building Group undertook disassembly, repair, and reinstallation of the stone staircase from August to October 2021. Completion of the stonework, delayed by the onset of winter, is anticipated in April 2022, with a public unveiling to be announced.