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Louis Atkinson Hardy House
326 East 5th Avenue
Welcome to the Hardy House, home of Rear Admiral Stephen Seabrook Israel and Mrs. Patricia French Creswell Israel. Steve and Pat have worked since the Spring of 2003 to renovate this lovely circa 1909 home, a significant contributor to the newly-created Fifth Avenue Historic District in Kenbridge. Hardy granddaughters, Elizabeth (Libby) Hardy Hutcheson and Eugenia (Genie) Hardy Carpenter, join the Israels in dedicating this event to all of the Hardy family.
Steve and Pat are natives of Maryland, where their paternal families arrived in 1699 and 1749 respectively. Steve graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1967 and received a Master's degree in management from the Naval Postgraduate School in 1973. He spent 11 years on active duty as a Navy line officer on destroyers and 25 years as a Navy reserve engineering duty officer. He retired as a 2-star rear admiral in November, 2002. Steve's civilian employment included 17 years as a general contractor in Orlando, Florida and 8 years as a consultant to, and director of marketing for, a defense electronics company in Fort Worth, Texas. Steve is presently employed as a Professor of Business Management for the Department of Defense at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He will retire to Kenbridge in the Spring of 2006. Pat graduated from Old Dominion University in 1969. She has held several positions in education, marketing, and transportation.
Steve and Pat wanted to live in Southside because the family of Steve's mother, the late Virginia Lee Israel, had resided there for 6 generations, most recently at Lee Hall (c. 1818, enlarged c. 1850s), formerly located on Brickland Road. Steve's Lee ancestors were farmers, ministers, and attorneys who also proudly served in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. Steve plans to write several books chronicling the lives of his family members. The Israels are members of the Episcopal Church and several local historical and genealogical societies. They enjoy traveling, gardening, cooking, reading, and genealogy.
The Hardy Family
The home you was probably built by W. R. Castle for Louis Atkinson Hardy, who was born in Lunenburg County on May 3, 1851 and died in Kenbridge on April 4, 1915. The Hardy family is descended from John Hardy (b. 1613, d. 1670), who came from England to Virginia before 1666, and who was of “The Old House,” Isle of Wight County, Virginia. 1 Louis Atkinson Hardy was educated at Randolph-Macon College and had a career as a lawyer, farmer and timber dealer. He married Sallie Hatchett Mathews of Lunenburg County in 1879. He and Sallie raised five children on a farm on Rt. 652: John E. Hardy, Mary Hardy Purdy, L. A. Hardy Jr, Thomas G. Hardy, and Natalie Hardy Graham. Louis Atkinson Hardy, Sallie, and several of the children are buried in a family cemetery at that farm. By the time the house was completed the Hardy children were all grown and on their own. 2 Louis Hardy was selected to represent Lunenburg County in the Virginia State Constitutional Convention of 1901-02. A composite photograph of the members of this convention always hung in the front hallway of his Kenbridge residence. A copy of this photograph and early tintype prints of Louis and Sallie now are on display in the home's center hall as gifts from the Hardy family. Louis A. Hardy was active in the Methodist Church,3 and was one of the founders and original directors of the Bank of Lunenburg, where he served as a Vice President from1912 until his death.4
As stated in the Fifth Avenue Historic District description, the Hardy house is perhaps the largest and best articulated example of the Queen Anne style in the District. The house was one of the first residences to be built in the newly incorporated town of Kenbridge. In 1908, Mr. Louis Atkinson Hardy purchased Lots 10, 11, and 12 from Mr. and Mrs. W. F. Kennedy for $450.00,5 and during 1909 he built the house that Kimberly Chen describes as a “carpenter built” folk Victorian. It is a 2½-story, three-bay frame dwelling featuring a wraparound porch with Scamozzi capitals and fluted columns, a complex hipped and gabled roof with rectangular and octagonal (fish scale) slate shingles, a box cornice with applied roundels in the frieze, and a roof balustrade with square posts and turned balusters. The 1”x 6” lap pine siding is applied over 1”x 8” diagonal sheathing forming a rigid and weather tight exterior that has lasted nearly 100 years as has the slate roof. A hidden gutter system provides for storm water drainage. Of particular note are the three sets of rounded bow windows with bent glass. Twin brick chimneys supported 6-8 fireplaces and/or heating stoves.
The first-storey floor plan is a center hall with two parlors and a formal dining room adjoining. Ceilings 11' high and 3' by 7' windows are elegant but also practical. The second storey features a similar center hall, four bedrooms, and 10'6” ceilings and 6'6” windows. Most interior six-panel doors have a transom for air circulation. Other original interior features include pine floors, ornate mantelpieces, and figured picture mould. One original coal firebox with spring front remains in the formal dining room, surrounded by original Trent tile. Doors, baseboards, and windows exhibit two- and three-piece mouldings which were found in good condition except for multiple coats of paint applied one over another. Various heating systems have been utilized over the years: wood-, then coal-burning fireplaces; an oil-fired hot water radiator system; and finally gas forced air systems for the later apartments. The original electrical service was knob-and-pole, and fixtures were minimal: “Would you believe a wire and a bulb?” says Eugenia.
The residence was converted into four apartments sometime after Sallie Hardy's death in 1936. The original rooms basically survived the apartment conversion, although baths and kitchens were added, entrance doors were reconfigured, the center halls disappeared and the main stairway was completely removed. Hardys owned and occupied the house for nearly 70 years. Judith Hardy Bagley Gue owned and resided in the apartments from 1957 to 1977; then the building was sold out of the family. It had several other owners until the Israels purchased the property from Tom and Carol Inge in January 2003. Many Kenbridge residents have lived in one of the four apartments over the last 60+ years.
Steve and Pat Israel have completely renovated and modernized this fine old home while restoring the floor plan and saving the charm of original wood trim, doors, door hardware, and transoms. Lathe and plaster were removed to facilitate structural repairs and installation of new plumbing, electrical, HVAC and insulation, but the replacement drywall was textured to resemble an older look. A new foundation was constructed for the front porch and additional structural support was added for the main house. Original pine flooring and 3 fireplace mantelpieces were restored to their original stained condition. The center hall was restored, and a stairway matching the original footprint was installed. Access to the useful rear stairway was re-opened, to connect the first and second storeys. Each bedroom has its own bath with bead-board wainscoting and period-style tile and bath fixtures. Other decorative features include 1908-era phones in the parlor and entry hall and a reproduction 1850s wood cooking stove in the kitchen. Under construction are a rear deck and garage/”carriage house” that will conform to the house style. Grounds and gardens are scheduled for completion in 2006.
Many of the furnishings are from the Israel-Lee family. Three items, the leather key basket, the dining room's framed mirror, and a walnut bedside table are from Lee Hall. The Israels have collected Civil War art and weaponry, antique clocks, and original art and prints from around the world. They are especially proud of the Eldridge Bagley 2005 oil painting, Loading the Slide.