more ranch please

I love the Fan and Richmond’s historic neighborhoods so much that I started a blog, and attended two graduate level Architectural History courses at VCU to learn more about them. At one time I proclaimed that I’d never move out of the Fan. It was home for life.

Then life happened.


Perhaps the results of one too many HGTV marathons, I found myself craving a more modern space offering one story and outdoor living, with room to grow and accommodate future roommates (who have since arrived in the form of husband, stepson and munchkin), and that I could update and remodel to my liking. I was rewarded with a mid-century ranch on the south side of the James built in 1962. That’s a big change from early 20th century row houses, but my curiosity for a home’s history remains intact.

I recently noticed a typo on my city assessment records so emailed the city to correct it. An assessor responded fairly quickly and along with my thanks I inquired where I should go to get any records of plans, blueprints or easement plats of our property. The individual I corresponded with was such a help, and found some spare time to scan and email me back everything they had there in the assessors office. I will say nine out of 10 of the city employees I have ever dealt with have been incredibly kind and helpful, usually willing to go the extra mile. This was luckily another one of those occasions.

My hopes are to document the history behind this home: who lived here, who built it, what the original structure was, and what this parcel and area was prior to it being a residential lot. An old assessment record card is an awesome start.

Appraisal and Record of Ownership p2

We know it was actually constructed in 1962 because that’s the first year with a figure recorded in the “Value of Buildings” column on the right. Under record of ownership on the left, we have:

  • Sidney B. Frank, et als
  • Windsor Corp.
  1. 1961: Joseph & Peggy W. Rudder. Purchased June 20, 1961 for $2,500. Looks like they purchased the lot and had the house constructed. Lived here six years.
  2. 1967: Hugh Edward & Barbara F. Joyce. Purchased March 30, 1967. Lived here seven years.
  3. 1974: Marc C. & Joanne M. Smith. Purchased August 20, 1974. There was a relative transfer to just Joanne Smith in 1980. Lived here nine years.
  4. 1983: William R. Jr. & Marjorie I. Dennis. Purchased May 27, 1983 for $65,500. This matches up to the oldest record transfer date on the city’s online property search tool. Only lived here 3 years.
  5. 1986: David E. & Carolyn C. Cox. Purchased Jan. 17, 1986 for $77,500. Lived here seven years.
  6. 1993: Rinaldo J. Diloreto, III. Purchased for $105,000. Lived here 11 years.
  7. 2004: Martin Williams & Nancy Mammarella. Purchased Dec. 7, 2004 for $150,000. Several relative transfers, perhaps refinances and adding Nancy to the deed between 2004-2014. Lived here 10 years.
  8. 2014: Steven G. & Jessica (Bankston) Brooks. Purchased Oct. 24, 2014, and we had one refinance in 2016.

Eight owners in 56 years. Interesting!

As I started this post over the weekend, I wondered if I could find an illustrated elevation perspective of a similar mid-century ranch style to post here. I googled ‘mid-century ranch exterior plan’ and couldn’t believe my luck with this inquiry either:

The Delray, a ready-cut home by Liberty Homes, 1960.

This is essentially my exact house! The only differences are that the left side of the plan has been pushed out to accommodate a formal dining room, and we don’t have a carport. But even the doorway out to the carport is the same style door we had prior to replacing it with a full glass door. The original picture window in the front of the house remains in tact.

Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 3.58.31 PM
Liberty’s picture window.

The entire Liberty Homes Catalog is on, and is a fun interactive click-through. The Delray is featured on page 29. The floor plan is similar in that the bedrooms, kitchen, living and family rooms are essentially in the same area of the home. But there’s a lot of tweaks from the inside. My guess is these types of plans served as a starting point for a local builder to go from stylistically and then adjust the dimensions for a real buyer.

So this is all very exciting and seems like a lot all at once! I have a couple of to-do items for myself, as follows:

  • Who is Windsor Corp. I reached out to the Home Building Association of Richmond to see if they could put me in contact with Windsor Enterprises and if that way I could inquire if this was the same company. I did get a reply from the latter and they have only been around for about 20 years or so. So, perhaps the city permits will have some records.
  • Who was the builder and where are the original plans. City permits and building inspections?
  • History of the parcel. This will include some history of our neighbor’s property at the end of the street, which was an old stone antebellum courthouse. It will also include some history of Pony Pasture, architects Haigh Jamgochian and Edward Durell Stone and the old Rockfalls Estate could be a Colliers model home plan of the year from 1936.

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